I’m sure you’ve all heard this expression before: “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
Basically, for me it means that when there is imminent danger, everyone circles the wagons (no matter their differences) and fights together.
Well, that old adage seems to be true for ranch animals as well – or at least the ranch animals around here.
Let me tell you what I mean…
SETTING THE STAGE
I’m sure many of you have animals other than horses. Cats, dogs, rabbits, cows, pigs, llamas… whatever.
You probably also know who gets along with whom. Or, more importantly, who doesn’t get along with whom.
For example, around here, everyone tolerates each other – especially when I’m watching. However, they have all made it known that:
The dogs hate the horses and the feeling is mutual.
The cats don’t trust the dogs (for good reason).
The dogs don’t trust the cats (for good reason).
The horses don’t know what to do with the cats.
The cats don’t know what to do with the horses.
Everyone steers clear of Norma (the donkey).
Norma is the exception to the ‘tolerance’ rule… She doesn’t like dogs or cats or any interloper that comes into her pasture. She will STOMP anything foreign in her rhelm. Unless you are an equine or a beloved human (not all humans are beloved, either…), if you are near Norma, prepare to be stomped. This is why donkeys are such good watchdogs.
There are the ranch animal categories, and then there is Buff Kitty. He is different. He flies under the radar.
Buff is our amazing barn cat – all sinew and muscle and the size of a VW. Buff is the Clint Eastwood of barncats. Understated but a force.
No one, not even Norma, messes with him.
However, Buff has one scary temptress. The OUTSIDE.
Our property is totally fenced with no-climb. Nothing bad can get in except deer and they don’t want to come in (the dogs). So, the animals who live here are relatively safe from predators. All they have to do is stay within our 10 acres. That’s it. Just stay inside.
Well, I cannot seem to convince Buff Kitty to stay inside. He smirks when I suggest it. You know the kind…
Buff purrs in the face of danger. He spends the night outside and then emerges at mealtime – from down the road or way up in the hills – yowling from so far away that he arrives hoarse. I don’t like it.
Buff makes me nervous. Even after 5 years, I still worry about him if he doesn’t arrive for breakfast.
THE DRAMA UNFOLDS
So, last night, probably around 3am, I heard a huge racket and some pissed-off yowling. I bolted up out of bed like a pop-tart. In an instant, I try to assess the situation.
Norma is bellowing at the top of her lungs:
Norma (huge bray): Get out here, here, here, here (big gulp) Now wow wowow wow!
OMG! What is going on that the cat is yowling/growling and Norma is bellowing?!
Then, the dogs, totally awake and on alert, start their over-excited naildigging dance on the hardwood floors:
The Dogs: LET US OUT – NOW! WE NEED TO SAVE THE WORLD!
Me (falling down the stairs in a slumber haze): Wha?? WHAT is going on?!!
The Dogs: THE WORLD IS ENDING AND WE MUST SAVE EVERYONE FROM EVERYTHING! IT IS DEFCON 1!!
I tried to determine if letting the dogs out will put them in danger or if letting them out will help stop whatever carnage is going on outside. The dog dance-n-whine was becoming unbearable as they yapped and fussed in front of the door.
The Dogs: HERE! OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT HERE! OPENOPENOPENIT! RIGHT HERE IS THE KNOB, JUST TURN IT!! NOW!!
With time compressing, I listen outside to see if Buff Kitty is in terror or fighting or what. Instead, I hear both of the previously wild mustangs sound off.
(As an aside, the wild mustangs have a different holler than any of my domestic horses. It is uncanny and very motivating. When they holler, you know something big is up.)
Mustangs (hollering very earnestly): HUMAN. COME NOW. FIX IT. THE END IS NEAR!! EVERYONE, RUUUUUUUUN.
At this point, I figure I need to let the dogs out. I barely have my hands on the knob as they teleport themselves from inside to outside.
I watch the direction that they run. They rocket to the farthest fenceline in Norma’s pasture.
After releasing the hounds, the growling and howling ceased. The dogs must have broken up the fight or scared off whatever was bullying Buff. I’m not sure what happened but I hear collars jingling as they shook off their rankled hackles. I hear Buff hiss his final statement as he turned to lick his upended fur. He was safe. Everyone was safe.
AND THEN I WATCHED AS...
The three dogs and Buff were all in Norma’s pasture. This trespassing would certainly be a stompable offense. Yet, Norma didn’t stomp.
I watched as the dogs trotted up right past the Mustangs – a total impropriety – yet the horses didn’t charge – unheard of.
Buff trotted up right through the pasture, under Norma, through the dog pack, around the feet of the Mustangs and up onto the porch. No one touched him.
All the waters parted for everyone. Suddenly, the rules of the game had changed… Kinda like Sam and Ralph from the Warner Bros cartoon. Tomorrow we’ll go back to the status quo – but for tonight, we emerge out of the foxhole as a team.
We circled the wagons and won.
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
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