IN my other life, I am the Town Clerk of a scrappy community stuck in the Vermont woods. We’re not given to much drama here except during mud season when nerves fray over the ruts on Molly Supple. (That’s actually a road, not a saucy maid from Victorian erotica.) Or when some domesticated animal makes a run for it in the winter, which happens more than you’d expect in a season where temperatures frequently dip below zero.
The latest fugitive to grip our attention is Sole, a small collie who busted loose in December from a house in Middlesex while her owner was busy fixing Linda’s hard drive. Linda’s on our ZBA (Zoning Board of Adjustment), so she got on the horn to me and I got on the horn to Erika, the Best Animal Control Officer Ever, and we put out an APB for Sole.
She was spotted instantly and, unfortunately, several well-meaning residents tried to catch her. But as Erika will tell you, even the most pampered pooch will revert to her inner wolf when she suddenly finds herself in the wild, dodging hands and treats, leaping over fences with the agility of a tough coyote despite a prior life as a couch potato. Murphy the golden retriever eluded capture for over a year until Erika finally trapped him and then – poof! – he was instantly back to snoozing by the fire and snarfing Milk Bones.
And it’s not just dogs who go crazy. For example, a billy goat was terrorizing Middlesex for the longest time, raiding people’s garbage and emptying their compost piles. Tammy spotted him on Molly Supple (yeah, the road gets a lot of action) and tried to lure him back with a bucket of feed, but he bolted – only to ruin someone else’s garden a day later. Finally, he was spotted again and this time Erika called Sue who happened to have a rag soaked in nanny-goat urine (as one does) and the two of them went out there, waving the pee-rag over their heads in what essentially amounted to a goat strip tease that sure enough lured him to the back of the truck. Sucker.
Tiny the White Pig was being carted to slaughter last fall and decided, “Screw this.” Being some sort of porcine James Bond, he actually leaped from a moving vehicle onto the interstate and headed into our woods. This backstory was unknown to us when he first appeared by the side of I-89 on the first snow of the winter that was causing cars to skid all over hell’s half acre. The state police were concerned, and rightly so, that the pig might attempt to cross the highway and cause a multi-vehicle pileup, so they parked by the exit and kept a bead on it.
Shooting was out of the question. As one state police dispatcher told me, “Pigs shooting pigs. You can’t. You just….can’t.” The temps got really cold right after that and we were certain Tiny was done for until he approached a father and daughter deer hunting. They fed him a peanut-butter sandwich and let him tag along for the day, before taking him home. Supposedly, the slaughterhouse let him live. Supposedly.
As you can see, we have a lot of experience when it comes to dogs, pigs and goats on the lam. Unfortunately, all our knowledge has been no match for Sole who has been sighted as far as twenty miles from Middlesex and, lately, not at all.
So if you’re in the area and see a small collie wandering aimlessly or a pig by the interstate or a goat helping himself to someone’s recycling, take my advice: don’t try to catch it. Call your ACO and just hope he or she is handy with a pee rag.