In the wee-hours of the morning on Sunday, July 20th, our brave little dog Ava ferociously faced off with one of the forest’s wild creatures, and lost her battle. We did not see the animal that took her life, so we cannot say for sure what it was, but we suspect that it was either a fox or a fisher. Since Keith saw the very large fox that made off with all but one of our five guinea fowl (the last one was dead, and we had her for dinner, lest her sacrifice be in vain) earlier in the season, we suspect the fox.
We adopted Ava from the Somerset Humane Society in February of 2012, a cross between a beagle and a jack russel terrier, she had the nose, mouth and bark of the beagle, and the energy of the terrier–we often joked about the combination of traits.
She wasn’t at all what we went into the shelter for–neither Keith nor I are big fans of small dogs–but the kids fell in love with her, and we knew she would make a great family dog, so we acquiesced. Ava has been a beloved member of our family ever since.
When we lived in-town, Ava liked to sit on the back of the couch so that she could look out the window and bark at passersby on the street. She got so accustomed to the back of the couch that it became her favorite place to sleep–right behind your head while you sat watching TV.
Ava’s death has hit Keith hardest of all–the kids may have picked the dog, but the dog picked her owner, and she chose Keith from the moment she arrived home. She was an anxious little dog, always wanting to be with her people, loathing being left alone, and she relished Keith’s calm, steadfast nature. He always denied it–but she was his dog, and I think she grew on him.
She had this peculiar habit of sleeping under covers–whether it was on the couch, or in her doggie bed–Ava liked to snuggle under a blanket. And when Keith slept, she would worm her way under the blankets to sleep beside him.
Since moving our farm into the woods, Ava has been our main line of defense against the wilderness critters. I often joked that she might not even know what she was barking at–it could have been a mouse rustling the leaves on the forest floor for all she knew, but she barked at it anyway. I know for a fact that her incessant barking has kept the deer out of the garden, and I am certain, that if it weren’t for Ava’s tenacity we would have lost many more of our chickens to that monster fox than we have.
I do not regret the life we gave her, that we saved her from the shelter, drew her into our home and hearts–but I do regret the horrible end that came to her. Keith tracked her into the forest, found the site where she was killed, still wet with Ava’s blood, only her collar left behind, and the distinctive path of her body having been dragged away. I can only hope that it was a quick death, but I do not know, and my mind and heart fears that she suffered cruelly.
Poor Ava. Alone in the forest in the dark of night, a gruesome death met this sweet, gentle little dog, and that is a burden I will carry with me forever. She loved this land–being free to run and roam, following her keen beagle-nose wherever the scent took her, she loved this farm and this family, and she died protecting it. She will always be a hero to us, she gave her life for Runamuk, for our farm and my dreams, and she will be missed.
Rest in peace Ava. You will always have a piece of our hearts. We love you.