Just before midnight, as I was putting the dogs out for one last bit of dog business, I opened the back door leading into the dog run only to see one of the crazy cat neighbor's feral cats standing there inside the chute leading to the dog yard proper. There's a little hole under the fence there where my drainage ditch runs under it that, while being way so small for the dogs, sometimes works for the cats as they travel around my property.
By the time I saw this cat, Belle was already out the door and Murphy was passing through it. They both saw it before I could react, with Belle spotting it first and freezing in place to contemplate this new addition to the dog pen.
Murphy saw it, too though, and he doesn't freeze. His wolfen predatorial drive kicked in and he launched himself off of the steps right for the cat, a furry missile of doom. I saw him rocket off and I knew that I be dealing with another dead or mortally wounded pest cat very soon; Murphy is nothing if not ruthless and efficient.
However, the cat gods were smiling on this trespasser tonight, because just as Murphy leaped from the stairs, Belle belatedly decided to go after the cat too, and she bolted for it right into Murphy's path. WHAM!! Two fast-moving dogs collided hard and went down head over paws in the slushy snow and the world's luckiest cat managed to escape before Murphy could get up and get back on it. And to his credit, Murphy was up in a flash and right after it, Belle on his heels, but the cat just needed a second or two. By the time I grabbed a flashlight and went out there, I found nothing but Murphy pacing the perimeter fence of the pen and Belle up on her hind legs staring up into one of the trees. The light revealed no cat on the ground or in the tree, but the tree's branches overhang the fence, so I figure that the cat made it up the tree and out of the pen. Murphy'd an old hand at this and clearly knows that cat trick, but it was all I could do to pry Belle away from that tree. Clearly in her mind, the cat went up there and was therefore still up there.
So that cat escaped, using up at least one of it's nine lives, and I'm left with two wet slush-covered dogs who are obviously going to have to tune their teamwork up a bit if they plan to hunt as a pack. Murphy would have had that cat if not for Belle and there's have been one less feral feline leaving cat crap on my driveway and paw-prints all over my vehicle.
Next time, you dingoes...coordination might help.