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Wild animals I have met

Here is a photo you may not have seen.

Who is the boss?

When I worked for The Edmonton Journal (Canada) in the summers of 1966 and 1967 I often covered some of the things that happened at The Alberta Game Farm.

See that little dog? Al Oeming, who started out as a wrestling promoter, was behind the farm’s success. He thought it might be fun to put a young dog in a cage with three or for baby tigers and other baby wild cats from from Africa.

The dog quickly became the alpha animal and those kitty cats were terrified of the little dog that would give them a good nip just for the fun of it.

With time the cats became ten+ times the size of the dog. But the pecking order remained. The dog would snap and growl and the cats would cower and slink off to the edge of the cage …. that way that dog always got first choice of the most tasty bits of steak at mealtime. I have no idea if that dog ever ended up as dinner.

Al also kept giraffes. Kept them outside. When it was Forty Below in Canada they grew coats with hair that was about two feet long. You might wonder if that’s Centigrade or Fahrenheit. Well, it’s the same. -40° F = -40° C Quite a coincidence.

Here’s another coincidence involving Al and me:

I grew up in a small village called Coronation. I had a dog named Cloudy, a Weimaraner.

My best friend ….

When I was 17 I took him with me to go duck hunting. You ever try walking a dog like that? It’s not going to happen because Cloudy could run like the wind. He could hit about 50 MPH. Some Weimaraners have been clocked at 75 MPH.

I trained Cloudy to run in the ditch while I drove on an old gravel road.

On a cool October day, after bagging some ducks, I was taking Cloudy for a ditch run when something went by him at about a hundred miles an hour. It was a damn cheetah. The first one I’d ever seen it Canada.

I saw it skid, turn around and head for Cloudy. By then I had stopped the car, whistled the dog back. He returned … the cheetah was on his tail and was gaining ground.

I grabbed my shotgun because I fully intended to shoot that big cat before it got my dog.

“Don’t hurt my best friend,” said a voice. It turned out to be Al. I hesitated and the cheetah ran past the most startled Weimaraner in the world and jumped into the back of Al’s vehicle.

Turned out he was taking the cat around to schools to drum up business for The Alberta Game Farm.

Al was quite a character. So were his friends. So was Cloudy.

It was an interesting week and the week I stopped hunting.




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