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Way Downstream …(June 6-12, 2019)

Animal mystery in the English countryside

      A CNN headline last week roped us in: Raccoon Dogs on the Loose in an English Village. People were told to be on the lookout for these dangerous creatures.

     A Daily Mail story warned that the raccoon dogs “terrorize locals and attack animals in Nottinghamshire.”

     “BLOOD CURDLING SCREAM,” a villager recalled hearing.

     Was this some kind of Brexit madness, lunacy in a land that is dividing itself like, well, like us?

    Had an unknown creature sprung up in the peatland bogs, something in the fog from a long-lost Mary Shelley manuscript?

  Turns out that raccoon dogs do exist, but we Americans don’t know beans about them. They’re not really raccoons, but they do have raccoonish markings and curved claws enabling them to jet up trees.

  Wild dogs are what they are, members of the canid family, which includes dogs and wolves. They’re also called tanukis, and they’re unsuitable as pets. They look like furry dogs, they gain and lose weight depending on the season (like many humans) and weren’t seen as a threat — up to now, at least.

  We didn’t know what to make of a line in one story: “They’re strictly monogamous.”