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Where the Dogs of Society Howl
Back to the porch and plow
So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plow
~ Elton John
Last night, the coyotes began howling shortly after dark. Our beagle, Mattie, who loves to hear her own voice, spent the next hour on the porch, giving them her opinion on their presence in her territory.
Coyotes are a constant threat here, predators more than happy to eat our cat, chickens, dogs. In the darkness, on the porch, I have heard a coyote pack hunt and take down a fawn, and another time a feral cat. My mind, of course, created its own imagery to match the sounds, and I was haunted for days following.
It is pure habit now to respond to the pack’s song with, “Where’s the cat? Is she inside?” We’ve given up trying to hush the beagle. As long as the coyotes yip and howl, she will vocalize her complaints.
I realize now, I’m a beagle in society. I’m cute, smart, stubborn, obsessed with food, and can “smell” when something’s up even when others can’t. I have a “nose” for research and learning, an insatiable curiosity, and a drive to figure out things I don’t understand. And when the dogs of society yip and howl, I cannot help but vocalize my complaints.
I have the emotional intelligence of a two-year-old beagle.
Emotional intelligence is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. I have no problem perceiving, using, and understanding my own emotions and the emotions of others. However, my inability to manage and handle my own emotions makes it impossible for me to even attempt to handle the emotions of others.
Just as Mattie is set off by coyotes, I am triggered by idiocracy and disrespect. In this day and age, these things are as common as coyotes in the hills. And just as Mattie’s fits do little more than annoy the coyote, my fits are little more than entertainment and annoyance to the dogs of society.
We’ve all heard the saying, “If you can’t run with the big dogs, get back on the porch.” Well, I like my porch, thank you very much, and not all of us were meant to be big dogs. If you’ve ever lived with a Great Dane or a Saint Bernard, you know their immensity of size and personality alone (not to mention the fur and the drool) can destroy a house.
And if you hear coyotes at night, you should know they are still out there during the day, quietly padding along.
One year, after the second cutting of the hay, we started seeing coyote pups in the hayfield. They were accustomed to us and unfearful, leading us to believe they had been in the fields all season, we just could not see them in the waist-high hay.
Once, during a super-hot season, I saw a lone coyote come out of the forest down to the lake to drink from the water’s edge. A nearby deer apparently spooked at the scent and bounded directly toward the water’s edge, then spying the thirsty canine, leapfrogged over the coyote as it drank, and scampered off into the woods. It was gone before the coyote even registered what had just happened.
Another time, a short afternoon walk with our old beagle went a little further than usual because I let our slow-going wander as she wished, glad she was feeling a bit adventurous. When we came upon a pair of coyote parents teaching their pups to hunt, I realized I was unarmed, in flip-flops and short-shorts, with an aged, unleashed, fat beagle. I swept Miss Daisy up into my arms and we made a swift retreat.
This is my first summer homesteading and working from home in seven years. Instead of running with the dogs of our small-town society, I’m here on the porch seeing signs of the end of summer. Having gone to sleep last night amongst the yipping coyote and the baying beagle, and spending the morning in the tomato patch, I rest my eyes and listen to the insect songs serenading the season’s peak.
I know the coyote are out there, but they are out of sight and mind. I’m relishing in the rich scents, the breezes, and thinking of canning jars, afternoon walks, and winter crops. And I can barely hear the dogs of society howling. Like the coyote, they are of no current concern, even though I know they are there.