The garden gnome, the fox and the cagey dog

On EDGE: Opinion

Peter Sheldon

We didn’t mind our husky pulling so hard on her leash. After all, we’d trapped her in the Trailer all day, and there really isn’t much in the Trailer for an animal like this except that big plush couch, and admittedly she wasn’t too upset about that, until the prospect of her going outside and rolling in a pile of mystery poop presented itself — and that’s just what she was off to do.

We didn’t even mind when she broke free from the leash at the front door and crawled under the deck frantically chasing nothing. Dogs get excited about weird things; Blueberry hates balloons for instance. I’m sure at least one hamburger missed the plate on the deck this summer and ended up under the Trailer, so be it; lots of things end up under the Trailer, it’s our open concept basement. “Enjoy the Pattie Blue! And could you grab the tongs?”

We didn’t even mind when we started noticing smaller footprints, like a sprinkling of raindrops in the snow, leading out from under the deck and past our compost bins to some green space behind the neighbour’s place. I mean, we felt a little silly at first for thinking that the dog was chasing historical burgers – I guess we could have assumed there was something living under there. It certainly wasn’t little house leveling gnomes walking back and forth with some extra insulation for the sewage pipes, though these are the sorts of things you think about in weak moments as a Trailer owner in Yellowknife.

We didn’t even really mind when the Environment and Natural Resources official showed up with the trap, and the cans of spam, and promised that he would catch the fox building a den under our deck, because, well, you can’t have that!

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And we didn’t even mind when he caught it. It smiled even. And this time an ENR lady showed up and put the cage in the truck, and I even helped her carry it there. And the fox smiled again at me, and it was clear that SHE was eating spam for more than just herself.

And it was all fine and dandy until the ENR lady slammed the gate on the truck and I asked where she’d drop the thing down the highway, and she said there would be no dropping, and that it would be killed just as soon as they had a chance.

And I thought, do I mind?

And she said I shouldn’t. The fox would have had kids, and they could have dropped it past Behchoko and it would have made its way right back under my deck. And they’re cute, sure, but they’re none too friendly with dogs, and since I wasn’t about to give up my poop-covered husky I’d better cage any awkward emotions around this little episode. Cage ‘em good.

But I did mind, eventually, and briefly, because someone said: “You could have done that yourself.” And it’s true, I guess I could have, if I had a trap, and didn’t mind breaking the law, and I guess I could have leveled the house too, and wrapped the pipes, only sometimes we think these things are harder than they are, especially in this land of Trailers.

And it took that little fox to remind me of this. She’d done more around here getting ready for the winter than I had. I was sitting around dreaming about garden gnomes, with their sacks full of insulation, and jacks, and, well, you can’t have that!

Peter Sheldon is a writer, snow fort aficionado and faithful producer for the public broadcaster. He took a lot of heat for declaring himself a “philosopher” in a previous bio for Edge YK. In truth, he doesn’t know the first thing about being a philosopher. He had a friend who called himself a “philosopher” once, and he thought it sounded kinda’ cool, so he stuck it in there. He apologizes for any trouble this has caused. 

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