Cousins from the "wild" side

This is a TRUE story regarding the value of a sound recall, and about a dog's thought process...or lack thereof.

Once upon a time Ripley (Wicklow's cousin) and his humans were visiting us for an early Christmas. Actually, this once upon a time happened in December of 2021. When Ripley visits, we are guaranteed to a rough night of sleep on night one, as he fails to settle in well. Night #2 is customarily tranquil for all of us as we look forward to sleeping until near daylight.

However, this time morning #2 proved to be quite eventful. Both Ripley and Wicklow became restless in the wee hours, and we let them outside to do their duty about 4:45 a.m. Wicklow nearly immediately returned to the deck with a robust alerting bark. To avoid waking other sleeping family members, my son and I went to the door to bring the dogs in quickly. As I opened the door, Wicklow bolted in, however Ripley wasn't there and also hadn't been barking.

Ripley. Photo credit Joe Teigen

I ran outside calling for Ripley, in bare feet, with my son directly behind me at the door. As Ripley began a slow and playful hound-style lope back to us, my son then noticed the 5 coyotes in the yard. Suddenly Ripley's thought process, or lack thereof, urged him to turn back with a seemingly joyful jaunt toward his distant wild "canis" cousins.

I continued to call him (still barefoot), as my son and daughter-in-law both (in boots) also came outside to call him to come to us. Success in numbers! Ripley turned back toward us, again with his playful jaunt, and into the house.

Usually I hear only the vocals of one coyote, but I hadn't heard a thing. Our best guess is that the dogs heard something that we didn't at that early hour, or they simply had a sense of something being out there in the yard.

Ripley is a sizeable dog, and I feel that there is a bit of Rhodesian Ridgeback in his lines. The DNA test, however, states that he is 1/2 Boxer, 1/4 Pit Bull, 1/4 Retriever, and the remainder being hound. Regardless, his imposing stature at just shy of 80 pounds kept the intruders at bay. Most importantly, Ripley has a sound recall, not perfect, but sound. In his defense, he may have been doing what he felt was necessary to keep his people safe.

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