January 10th, 2018

The pup and the bird of prey

Here’s a story about a dog snatched by an eagle:

Felipe Rodriguez says he thought he was hallucinating when an eagle snatched his sister’s little white dog from her yard, flapped its massive wings and disappeared over the trees.

Did he really just see that?

He had. Zoey the 8-pound bichon frise was gone, taken by a hungry raptor Tuesday afternoon not 50 feet from his sister’s house on the banks of the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania, Rodriguez said.

“It seemed like something from the ’Wizard of Oz,’” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I’m a city boy. This doesn’t happen in my world.”

Zoey was playing in the fenced yard when he heard a loud screech, hurried to the door and looked out.

“The bird was holding onto the dog. There was flapping of wings and then it was gone,” said Rodriguez, a 50-year-old healthcare executive visiting from Chicago.

Let’s pause to check out that “Wizard of Oz” reference:

The special effects there are quite primitive compared to today, when it would all be done through computer animation. And yet I love the more primitive effects, which still send a shiver of fear through me in a magical way that modern, more realistic-looking movies don’t even begin to summon.

As in “The Wizard,” Zoey’s story has a happy ending:

Zoey’s rescuer was Christina Hartman, 51, who said she was driving on a snow-covered back road when she spotted a furry white lump ahead and pulled over to investigate.

“I notice this little frozen dog, icicles hanging from all over. It could hardly move,” Hartman said.

She scooped up the whimpering pooch, wrapped her in a blanket and took her home, feeding the dog two bowls of chicken-and-rice soup. Gradually, the bichon warmed up and began to show some spunk.

…She spotted Newhard’s public Facebook post Wednesday morning — Newhard had uploaded a photo of Zoey — and made an excited call.

“I said, ‘It’s a miracle! I have your dog!’”

Zoey had bruises and a few missing patches of fur. It’s not clear how far the eagle might have carried the dog, but Rodriguez said he can’t believe Zoey survived.

“She is not really herself, but she is getting lots of love,” his sister, Newhard, texted the AP late Wednesday. “She doesn’t want to go out. … I really can’t blame her.”

Zoey must think there are eagles everywhere. My guess is that the dog was too heavy for the eagle and after a while she was dropped.

I have a special interest in this story, because I owned a little white dog much like a bichon in size and temperament. We had a fenced-in yard, too, and when he was a pup he was gamboling around in it one day when a workman came to look at our yard.

I can’t remember what the man was there for—I think it was an estimate on work that had something to do with trees—but he was a very laconic New Englander of the old-fashioned type. As he looked around the yard, he pointed at my adorable pup, who was no more than seven pounds at the time although full-grown he ended up being about 23.

“Better watch out,” the man said.

I had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked.

“Hawk could get ‘im,” he answered.

Much like Rodriguez, I was a city girl, and that didn’t happen in my world. But I could well imagine it happening, and so until my dog got big enough to fend for himself, I watched him like—like a hawk.

Here’s a photo of me holding him, probably taken when he was around 2 or 3. What a great dog he was! He lived for about fifteen years [1988-2003]:

30 Responses to “The pup and the bird of prey”

  1. BrianE Says:

    Our golden retriever had a litter of nine pups last summer. After some time in a pen indoors, they were moved outside into a pen that could be moved around the back yard.
    A friend noticed a large owl perched on a power pole at the edge of our property. We immediately added a cover to the pen, just in case the owl thought the pups looked like a tasty meal!

  2. Oldflyer Says:

    I am less surprised that the eagle grabbed the dog, than that it dropped it. There are videos of them carrying salmon that probably weigh more than the dog. Great story though.

    Here in SoCal the threat to small dogs and cats comes from coyotes. They are bold, and they are vicious. My daughter, who lived in one of the canyons, lost cats; but, there are recurring episodes of coyotes coming deep into neighborhoods, jumping walls into back yards, and making off with a small pet. A state sponsored web site makes the untrue statement that coyotes are “not interested in pets”; and suggests that if coyotes are in your neighborhood it is the fault of humans. (Typical California attitude.)

    On morning walks I have occasionally seen one trotting down the street without the least concern about me or anything else. I suspect that one or more live in municipally controlled green spaces that encompass above ground drainage systems that traverse most neighborhoods. We are less than a half-mile from a national forest, and I also see them skulking along the trail that separates the wilderness from a neighborhood. Our own old cat is not allowed to venture into the walled backyard unless I promise to stay within three feet of her; and defend her with my life if necessary.

  3. AMartel Says:

    Adorable dog! Zoey, too. Lucky dog. I’ve never had a dog that small. I pity the raptor that tries to carry off a german shepherd. Cats must be carried off on a regular basis but I’ve never seen a story about that.

  4. Mac Says:

    Our little bichon, Andy, is about twelve pounds. Too big for the ospreys and other hawks we have around here, but I have been a little concerned about alligators. Never seen a gator big enough right around here, but it’s not impossible. As one of my daughters remarked rather heartlessly, he would be a nice little gator snack.

    He’s sixteen now and it’s pretty moot, anyway. Doesn’t get around much, half-blind at least, hearing much reduced. And having issues with issues, if you get my drift. A lot of trouble but I’m looking at this as a sort of test–how I treat him in relation to how I would hope to be treated if I get similarly old and incapacitated.

  5. Brian Swisher Says:

    When we lived in Susanville, we had friends whose cat came home one day acting loopy. When they examined him, they found odd wounds on his back and figured that some raptor had tried to carry him off. There are certainly plenty of raptorial species in the Susanville area.

  6. arfldgrs Says:

    It was lucky to survive.

    the same happened when the city hired people to bring their hawks and they killed a few small dogs

    i just warned my friend who has a miniature daschound about that…

    [im waiting for a mountain lion or bear to eat a kid, since they wont let those be pared back now in urban areas. they have attacked adults in cali… ]

    on another note:
    Democrats at the Left’s premier think tank have finally admitted in a leaked memo that illegal immigration is key to their party’s future electoral success. Republicans may not be angels but they have never wielded compassion as a cudgel the way Democrats do. But this memo ought to end Democrats’ phony compassion shtick for all time. Power is the only thing that matters to them. They don’t care about America or Americans. They care only about winning. Honest observers have known this for years.

  7. neo-neocon Says:


    My in-laws lived in southern California in the LA suburbs, and one summer I was visiting (with my dog) and in the wee small hours of the morning he got agitated and wanted to go outside. He didn’t usually do that, so I looked out the window (the front window that looked out on the street). Strolling up the middle of the street was a pack of coyotes, five or six or so, as calm as you please.

    I didn’t let him go out.

  8. kevino Says:

    RE: Oldflyer: I agree. The dog is lucky. The hawks and eagles in our area probably would not have dropped it. Although they seem to prefer cats as they are lighter weight. Owls will apparently go after cats, too. A cat’s night vision is good, but the owl’s is better. [The Owl and the Pussy-cat went away, and it wasn’t in a pea-green boat.”]

    The fisher cats in our area like cats, too. I had to help out the neighbor’s cat at about 1am year before last. Two fishers wanted her. I was cold; they were hungry; and it took me a while to talk them out of it.

    RE: neo: “Strolling up the middle of the street was a pack of coyotes, five or six or so, as calm as you please.”
    I’ll bet they were calm. We have coyotes, too, and they can be a problem. Many aren’t particularly afraid of humans. [There’s a way to change that.]

    In our town a lady went out for a walk one day with her little dog. Next thing she knows, she’s holding a leash with a coyote on it. Well, the other end of the leash had her soon-to-be-dead dog, and the coyote had the dog. She dropped the leash and went home.

    She then sent her husband to investigate. [!?] He looked around and reported that he couldn’t find the dog. But he did find several dog collars, none of which was theirs.

    Mother Nature can teach us many things.

  9. Kyndyll G Says:

    I live in a big city somewhere west of Missouri and east of the Pacific Ocean and we have coyotes here. I love the blatant lie that coyotes are “not interested in pets”. I have coyotes here, and at my previous house, which was not that far from here and only a bit more rural, they ran in packs. No one near where I used to live lets cats or small dogs roam unattended, because coyotes will kill them or hurt them badly. The people we bought that house from had a small dog mauled horribly; we heard about it from a neighbor the day we moved in. In fact, we had a 40+ pound dog attacked in our yard there, behind a six-foot block wall – which doesn’t even delay coyotes, much less stop them.

    Coyotes are intelligent and opportunistic: they’re also interested in your pet’s food, if you were unwise enough to leave it outside. But frankly, yes, yes they are, interested in your pets … as a meal. And the fact that they attacked that medium-sized dog of ours, who was not a meal opportunity for even the biggest coyote, tells me that they also sometimes attack pets for sport.

    I have no desire to eradicate coyotes from this place, where coyotes lived before my house was built. But it’s better for everyone not to lie about them. Coyotes do very well living on the edges of our cities and they do so by considering everything about human habitation, including our pets, as a meal.

  10. Susanamantha Says:

    We live near Dayton, Ohio, and our neighbors had a small Yorkshire terrier killed by some bird, an owl or a hawk. They found parts of the dog in the yard. So sad.

    We have coyotes and foxes and have seen them both in our yard. Two of my dogs are larger than the coyotes and would probably put up a good fight if put to the test. My other dog is 20 pounds and older. Our back yard is fenced but I understand that presents no challenge for coyotes.

  11. parker Says:

    As a country boy I can attest to the fact that nature is both beautiful and deadly. Reality is not for the faint hearted. Beyond humans, mosquitoes are the harbringer of death, but take second place to the havoc of bacteria and viruses.

    Botton line, birth kills all.

  12. Sloppy Steve Says:

    I’m so glad that little Zoey was found.
    Hate the idea of cruelty to animals – especially to our best friends.

    Very worrying to hear of the threat posed by your native dogs, the coyotes. If memory serves correctly, Paris Hilton lost one of her “purse dogs” to a coyote in California a few years ago.

    A lot of your readers appear to be campers so it is a useful exercise to run a story like this every once in a while to remind us to be mindful of the risks to beloved pets – and worse- in the wild.

    My country’s native dog is the dingo. It closely resembles the coyote in size, weight and habits.

    Horrendously, one snatched a 2 month old baby girl from her tent at the base of Uluru in the 1980’s, dragging her away by the head and killed her.

    City-dwelling people, understandably, found it incredibly difficult to credit this as possible and so her mother, in addition to dealing with her enormous grief, had to deal with social ostracism, several murder trials and many years imprisonment before eventually being exonerated – 32 years later.

    A miniscule risk is not the same as no risk at all and we do well to remember that.

    As usual, Elaine Benes is on hand with some good advice:


  13. parker Says:

    When I was a kid a neighboring farmer fell when feeding his hogs, hit his head on a feed trough, and was eaten by the hogs. An uncle was nearly killed by a bull. Coydog packs were a menace to barnyard dogs and cats, raccoons to domestic fowl. I am amused, not in a good way, by ‘city folk’ who believe nature is cuddly and pristine. Perhaps ‘liberals’ need to be required to work with the peasants to be vaccined with reality to learn Mao style how clueless they are about reality.

    Just kidding, sort of.

  14. DNW Says:

    “Here in SoCal the threat to small dogs and cats comes from coyotes. They are bold, and they are vicious. My daughter, who lived in one of the canyons, lost cats; but, there are recurring episodes of coyotes coming deep into neighborhoods, jumping walls into back yards, and making off with a small pet. A state sponsored web site makes the untrue statement that coyotes are “not interested in pets”; and suggests that if coyotes are in your neighborhood it is the fault of humans. (Typical California attitude.)”

    I don’t like the damn things even if the pelts of some of the healthiest ones are beautiful.

    Not too many years ago there were flocks of wild turkeys numbering 50 to a hundred or more roaming the properties . The hillside would seem to move.

    Now, with coyote dens eroding the south faces of the moraines, the average group of turkeys one sees are 5 to 10 or so.

    I’ll shoot a coyote on sight, and it’s rather disturbing to hear them yelping in the night 50 yards away from where we sat around the firepit at night in our teens and twenties.

    And now there are new and strange tracks in the woods that look like wolf tracks, though there are not supposed to be any wolves in the area.

    These may be hybrids according to our DNR; though the NYT makes a big production out of asserting that it was the small footed Algonquin wolf that hybridized to form the new Eastern Coyote.

    I don’t want a damned 50-60 lb deer killing predator around the cottage, be it a Coyote or whatever.

  15. Mike K Says:

    About 25 years ago, I was taking my five kids on a two week camping trip in Alaska. We had a motor home and when my older sons complained about the tight quarters, I offered to let them sleep on cots outside. No takers. We were parked in a beautiful RV camp in Palmer and the people next door had a bigger motor home that was their full time residence. They alternated between Florida and Alaska. The week before, they informed us, an eagle had taken their small dog. Lots of eagles in Alaska.

  16. vanderleun Says:

    Here’s an inspiring bit of dog bio from my joint today:

    Something Wonderful: Memories of Piper, "They also serve who only chase and bark." – American Digest

  17. vanderleun Says:

    That’s a border collie trained to move birds along.

  18. steve walsh Says:

    Wow, I wouldn’t have expected that either. We’ve lost a couple of cats over the years to fishers but I’ve not heard of birds of prey taking dogs. Wow.

  19. blert Says:

    Coyotes have NO fear.


    Most shocking nature event I ever saw: Golden eagle swooped down from the Heavens — and snatched a hare — had to be ten pounds — and vaulted the meal straight into the sky — with extreme wing effort.

    No, it was not dropped.

    By her size, she was a female — and — no doubt had young’ins to feed.

    Never ever saw a larger bird in my life.

    Astounding in wingspan… not 60 yards away.

    Like coyotes — absolutely no fear of man.


    My residence is over-run with deer, turkeys, you name it.

    They totally lack any fear of man.

    The ‘road scenes’ are bizarre to witness.

  20. blert Says:

    BTW, I’ve entirely given up on gardening.

    NOTHING green can survive deer.

    You name it, they eat it. Even stuff you can’t name.

  21. groundhog Says:

    Mention of coyote reminded me of this


    Happy Ending. Literally!

  22. Ray Says:

    My sister lived in Albuquerque NM in the foothills of the Sandia mountains. In the winter mountain lions would come into the neighborhood looking for food. You didn’t leave your children or pets alone outside.

  23. DNW Says:

    blert Says:
    January 10th, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    BTW, I’ve entirely given up on gardening.

    NOTHING green can survive deer.

    You name it, they eat it. Even stuff you can’t name.

    Got about a hundred foot long strip of “day lillies” running back from the road along the property line out by the ditch and fence.

    Last two years it occurred to me that I had not noticed them coming up. Figured it was because they were off in the side yard quite a distance from the house and I just was not paying attention.

    Then one day, leaving the house late morning I saw 7 deer in the strip ripping them up by the mouthful and contentedly munching away.

    The bucks will even eat poke weed which I allow to come up a couple hundred yards back on the property at the verge of the little woods. The plant is not even native to this area so far as I know, and certainly was was brought in locally by a neighbor because of his southern connection. Yet the big ones will rip at it in amazing way. I thought it was supposed to be poisonous. Apparently not for whitetails. In fact by the looks of the antlers, they are thriving.

    If I could shoot in my suburban neighborhood, I’d have a dozen trophy grade racks on my wall.

    Instead I drive two hundred forty miles north for crappy 4s and 6’s.

  24. steve walsh Says:

    We put up a split rail fence for my wife’s small vegetable garden. I’m pretty sure the deer could vault it easily enough but that there are enough alternative sources of nibbles that it is enough to discourage them from doing so. Of course, the fence doesn’t keep out the smaller, closer to the ground, critters, like rabbits and ground hogs, so we added wire mesh around the inside of the lower half of the enclosure. Seems to be working pretty well.

  25. chuck Says:

    > that they also sometimes attack pets for sport.

    A rancher reported that a coyote had gone through one of his sheep flocks and eviscerated them just for the heck of it, as the sheep weren’t eaten. I’ve heard similar stories of falcons scaring ducks by making “strafing” runs with no intent to kill, apparently just for fun.

    Wilderness is a function of size, you don’t need to go far to find it. The bugs and spiders are doing their thing as they have for millions of years, even in the most civilized spaces. Up in size a bit and there are the mice, cats, birds, etc., no further away than the back yard.

  26. AMartel Says:

    We had a couple of shepherd dogs growing up and coyotes in the area. The dogs (bigger and supposedly quite an intelligent breed) would see the coyotes and run pell mell after them, barking all the way. The coyotes would run them in a circle until they were exhausted and panting and then trot off back into the woods.

  27. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    We live by a lake and have seen bald eagles grab big fish outa of the water. The eagles swoop down with talons extended, grab their prey and flap away slowly, close to the water, lugging the struggling fish away. Some of those fish appear to weigh at least as much as a cat or a small dog. The eagles also try to grab goslings, though the goose parents are good at fending them off.

    My mother had a big, overweight cat that she used to let out at night (she kept him indoors during the day so he couldn’t prey on the songbirds at her feeders.) One morning he turned up desperately ill, with several deep puncture wounds on his abdomen. The cat got the feline version of peritonitis and nearly died. My mother and the vet figured that the predator might have been a large owl, since it happened at night and the wounds looked to the vet as if they were made by claws rather than teeth. Luckily for the cat, he was apparently too big for the predator to lift — but that didn’t stop it from trying.

  28. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    out, of course, not outa!

  29. Larry Says:

    As a Navy brat, I lived on the island of Adak, Alaska, way out in the Aleutians (there was almost nothing there except for the Navy, Navy dependents, and contractors working for the Navy). Bald eagles were ridiculously common, and despite the largish perches built well over power line poles, a few managed to fry themselves every year when wingtips got too close to two different cables. In winter, when times were tough, eagles commonly took cats and small dogs from the housing areas. I saw in fresh snow once a set of cat tracks, a confused flurry of displaced snow, and a couple of drops of blood on the snow. Small dogs were at risk, too, and not just from eagles. I had to rescue my brother’s black cat from a flock of ravens that had him backed up against a garbage dumpster. Whichever way he faced to ward off a threat, one or more ravens would come in from behind and peck him HARD. I have no doubt they’d have taken him in the end, the same way that a wolf pack will bring down a full-grown moose in the end. A bald eagle would’ve just carried him off, but a (murder?) of ravens can be just as deadly. A fly fisherman had a salmon he had hooked snatched by a bald eagle. Between the weight of the salmon and the drag of the fishing line being pulled out of the reel, the baldie sank lower and lower until wingtips were touching water and he grounded a couple of hundred feet up Thumb Creek. The eagle kept the salmon, and hopefully had no trouble with the treble hook in the salmons mouth. Off-topic, it was amazing wonderful how top brass like CINCPAC and/or the CNO had to inspect bases in Alaska during the salmon run and no other time. Obviously a case of evolution and pre-programmed responses to mating urges, right? It made sense since serious issues like reproduction and seasonal feeding, not the primate dominance displays in which much “leadership” specializes, come to the fore.

    Seriously, though, I think the bald eagles were almost as common as sparrows out there (but even sparrows are much bigger than in Florida, California, or any place with lower absolute latitude because without the extra mass to retain heat, they couldn’t survive). Sparrows, ravens, gulls, and bald eagles seemed to be the only birds. And all but sparrows would prey on pets < 15 lbs, but even they would feed on a corpse, just like chickens will (which has turned my F-i-L off chicken ever since he was a Marine in Vietnam in '66-'67).

  30. Ymar Sakar Says:

    One of the reasons why I don’t agree with vegans is that animals being killed happens all the time. While they may not want to financially support the slaughter houses and farms, the cycle of life and death will continue until the Earth and all things on it is remade into a resurrected format.

    Whether one eats animals or not from human farms, they will still be dead. If there was a way to do things otherwise, that might be feasible, but the economic game is more of a salve to individual guilt than something practical.

    Meat also produces more toxins when digested, so fruitarians and vegans can often times purify their bodies, although not their spirits. Some of them treat it as a religion, thus instead of bible thumpers, they are now vegan religion thumpers. Humans being humans, no surprise.

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