Fox Field Notes
Part 8

In the early morning light, foxes, particularly Mr. Fantastic, from behind can look like a bobcat. The coloring is different, but sometimes bobcats, especially the ones around here can look a little more grey than gold. I spotted Mr. Fantastic from our kitchen windows this morning following a flower bed along a stretch of dirt that sits between our driveway and house. I first saw his dark tail, which is about the same width and length as a bobcat. Bobcats can often look like ferrel cats until you realize that the tail is thicker, if not in muscle then in hair. Mr. Fantastic casually sauntered across the driveway creating a tight turn around the side of the house. As I opened the front door, he stopped. Not in fear, but as to pause and give a casual hey and morning salutation. I said hello and he continued to slowly walk across our patio into the low branches of a cypress tree. Normally one would assume that Mr. Fantastic was on his way down the rocky front slope and was finished with his morning constitutional around the house. That's what I assumed anyway. Fifteen minutes passed and it was time to put the dog out.

Sherman, our dog is more like a cat than a dog. He's the best, really. But he has a seizure disorder which makes him easily overstimulated and often challenges his communication. To cut to the chase, he can't read another dog's social cues to save his life. Because he is unable to really fend for himself I am always careful to do a quick check of the backyard before I let him out in the morning. I did so today, like every other day. A few minutes later I heard a gutteral scream. I'll tell you now that Sherman was totally fine, so feel free to read on. This noise, which after much research and debate with neighbors, Wild Care, and audio recordings, several weeks ago was thought to be a mountain lion. We had about three weeks at the beginning of summer where we would hear this sound in the middle of the night, around 3am or so. We would wake and run to the windows and doors to see what it was, but we never got a full look. The animal appeared big and based on all the evidence, we settled on the assumption that a mountain lion was making its way through the yard on a daily basis. So this morning when I heard this same sound coming from the backyard moments after I had let Sherman out, I kind of freaked. Well, to be honest, I grabbed a throw pillow, because all evidence points to throw pillows being a deterrent to mountain lion attacks. As I ran outside to grab Sherman, there was Mr. Fantastic, casually walking through the backyard. It was him! He had given Sherman a casual warning that he was moving through. Sherman was no more bothered than if the fox had been a stiff breeze. And the two just went on with their moments. Together and separately.

So mystery solved. The strange noises in the night were Mr. Fantastic himself. True to his nature, always full of surprises.

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