Wild Life Alert


When we see the dog stand up suddenly from the porch with his eyes focused intently across the pasture, we know it is far more likely we have four-legged than two-legged visitors–usually deer–and at times, he won’t even bother to challenge them.But when we see the dog stand up suddenly and look straight up into the maple tree just beyond the mailbox, our guests are certainly not deer.

While our arboreal drop-ins are most usually squirrels or chipmunks, this time we looked out the window just as Tsuga was about to get a mouthful of raccoon tail.

And here is where our marital dimorphism (a subject for later this week) cut in: she grabbed the rifle, I grabbed the camera.

“It might be rabid!” she warned.

“He seems healthy enough to me” I hollered back, as I chased the uncooperative bandit back and forth from one side of the crotch of the tree to the other. “Hold still and smile” I pleaded.

Finally, he tired of our game, and backed down the tree, down into and along side of Goose Creek, minding his own business, and disappeared.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. The poor little thing looks sad to me that the dog can’t play. On the other hand, I think I would be like your wife, with a backup plan ready to roll! Love the pictures and the blog – still!