Sparky keeps an eye out for squirrels, not realizing the real danger is from raccoons.
Or, Further Adventures in Repatriation.
There are no raccoons in Britain. And in southern England, our deer were small, about the size of the average dog, and they didn't jump over the fence and eat my hostas. And our potatoes, despite the fact they came from the New World, were much better, with more varieties than you could ever possibly learn to spell.
First, the raccoon problem: Our yard here is much bigger than our yard in Britain, and hence, when Sparky takes his Kongs outside and drops them, as he is wont to do when he's excited (which is most of the time), they become lost. And the leaf cover doesn't help. If we send him out to look for them, he can find them, despite the leaf cover, but only if we realize they're out there before nightfall. Several times, they've just disappeared, but then I found one in an unexpected place: in the woods, about twelve feet from the fence.
And yesterday, I found the latest lost Kong in the same spot.
I suspected foxes, or maybe the large buck that's skipped over the fence a time or two. According to the neighbor, he's there to nibble the hostas, not hard rubber Kong toys. I really couldn't imagine how the Kongs got across the fence, unless somehow Sparky had learned to manipulate the latch on the gate and was taking himself for off leash walks in the woods every day.
Then the same neighbor suggested raccoons might be responsible for the Kong abduction. I'd lived in England so long that I completely forgot about the existence of raccoons. Badgers and hedgehogs, yes, but as far as I know the only badgers in North America are in Wisconsin, and hedgehogs never made the trans-Atlantic voyage. But apparently raccoons are dexterous enough, sneaky enough, and probably desperate enough, too, to take a Kong toy under a chain link fence.
I suspect Sparky knows they've been there, too. He's mainly concerned about the deer, who are the size of cows here, and unlike the cows, they actually do come over the fence. We saw a young buck one evening, and by the time I let Sparky out he'd already cleared the fence, and was standing in the neighbor's yard, calmly munching on foliage while Sparky barked for all he's worth. Deer do not scatter like the cows do when a dog barks at close range. I suspect raccoons don't either.
On a completely unrelated note, I still haven't found potatoes that are anywhere as good as Maris Piper, Roseval, King Edward, or Charlotte, or my favorite for mash, Mozart. I would plant a garden and try to grow them, but I suspect that would only give the deer more reason to coast over the fence.
I wonder how raccoons feel about potatoes?