Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Pack

The mood in New Haven in the last day has been tense. Not overtly angry, but as if every person is clenching their fists in concert. We never lost sight of the things the Exiles have done to us, but it was jarring to have them give such a stark reminder. That guard dying like that, as an example to others.

Well, that just pisses me off. But I have been asked not to focus on that. Which only means that cooler heads than mine realize pushing the issue, considering how it upsets people who are already high-strung, is probably a bad idea.

One thing that probably helped people relax a little yesterday was Jess's solution to the massive flocks of birds going after our crops and seeds. At first she sent people out among the rows to bang together pie pans (which work a lot better than pieces of firewood) but that was still inefficient and a waste of manpower. It left the walls low on sentries and guards, so we put our brains to coming up with something else.

Again, Jess was the one that came up with it. We've spent a lot of time and effort to gather and slowly breed dogs. We have to be careful of how many we have due to food concerns, but when it comes to early-warning systems for zombies, you don't get better than a dog's sense of smell. My own two, Bigby and Riley, have saved my life a couple of times.

Riley was already fixed before The Fall came, which is a real shame. For all the destruction his over-energetic ass caused back when my biggest concern was paying the mortgage, he's turned into a first-rate guard dog since. He has the nearly unlimited vigor of a growing puppy, and he fucking hates birds. If he had hands instead of paws, I'd give him a fist-bump.

Bigby, on the other hand, was not fixed. We've bred him once already, and the puppies were awesome. Riley is half Golden Retriever and half Great Pyrenees, and it makes me sad to know that he won't pass those beautiful looks on. But he's also lanky and somewhat awkward, so not ideal for what we need.

Bigby is half Chow, half Norwegian Elkhound. He's massive and built low to the ground. Hit mate was abandoned by one of my neighbors early in The Fall, a pure Malamute. The puppies have grown to be meaty, strong adults.

So Riley, Bigby, and his progeny (six of them) are spending their days under the supervision of two people scaring the living crap out of birds. I can't help smiling when I think about it. Watching them gambol and play even as they put the fear of god into their prey makes my heart a bit less heavy. It's another example of how we have to utilize every resource we can. My ferrets and cats are great for controlling vermin from bugs on up to rats. Our large pack of dogs are good for a lot of tasks from guard duty to scaring birds, even acting as pack animals from time to time.

Of course, my boys and their pack out in the annex do have to be watched. All of them are prone to digging, and that wouldn't be a very good thing. Still, with so many targets to keep their attention, it's not a bad situation. Plus we can let some of the kids out with them. Makes the kids happy, which makes the adults happy, which we all need.

Zombies still wander around outside the annex walls, but the dogs seem to be keeping any New Breed among them from risking a climb. That's a lot easier to do in that part of New Haven given how bad the damage is to parts of it, but apparently it's more than birds my boys can keep in line.

Maybe not the most important or moving thing to talk about, but it's better than the alternative. Some days you have to force yourself to avoid the bad, no matter how much you want to dwell on it. So I think I'll had over to the annex and let my pups knock me over and give doggy kisses. That kind of loyalty and love can do wonders.

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