For the past week it has been 15 to 20 degrees below the norm for this area. If it weren't for global warming I suspect we would all be frozen in a giant block of ice. This "Arctic Blast" ( as our local media has named it) has caused some concern about my other animals. While I haven't set up my chicken coops yet I have been reading lots of information on adverse weather conditions that could cause a problem. As it turns out I understand that cold weather is not really that much of a problem for my feathered friends soon to grace our farm, but I also have a K-9 rescue settlement. While nature has provided them with some natural protection, this arctic blast demands that I contribute to their well being. We have mostly small dogs: 8 to 15 pounds. Most have double coats and are long haired. Nonetheless, learning this arctic blast was on its way I under pinned our deck, insulated it with R-19 and placed a ceramic heater in it to maintain a minimum of 60 degrees regardless of the outside temp. Well, Lobo is the largest of our rescued clan and weighs in at about 22 to 26 pounds. He was small when we adopted him but grew into a giant compared to the rest of our mix. He is the Alpha male, no contestations. Although penned, he feels it is his responsibility to police our territory as we sleep. He climbs in and out of the pen as he so desires. Due to the cold weather I get up about every three hours to stoke the fire in the fire place. Our kitchen window overlooks the back of our property and lately as I looked out I could see that Lobo is not in the pen, but rather patrolling the grounds outside of the fenced in area. How he gets out and why I don't discourage his patrolling is to be explained at another time. What is of interest here is the cold weather and what I have learned about raising my brood of chickens. BYC has offered me a wealth of information regarding natural predators of chickens. Three days ago before the aarctic blast set in we had about 16 hours of a steady rain: the ground was soft. As a matter of routine Hatchie ( my K-9 side kick) and I would walk around the property each day. After the rains we noticed many tracks in the soft soil. Deer tracks, lots of them. Cat tracks, just a few and we suspected they were from our neighbor's cat; but then we came across some tracks I was not familiar with. The print was small and obviously padded. What seemed odd was that it was narrow and claws sliced the mud in front of each toe. The slice marks of the claws were almost half the size of the paw-print. That's a long claw! The print was, as I said, narrow, not unlike a rabbit but not hand shaped as a coon or opossum. The claw marks themselves were as thin as a scalpel. I don't know what type of creature could have left this print but I suspect Lobo does. At 15 degrees the ground was completely frozen this morning as Hatchie and I went out to feed our K-9 friends and family. Lobo was standing at the gate and as usual the bright lint in his eyes and the long stretched smile indicated he was happy to see us as he is every morning. Despite Lobo's delight, something was amiss. His left ear was matted and the side of his face and neck were crimson red. He was obviously favoring one of his hind legs. Lobo stood to great us as we entered the pen: most of his underside was soaked in blood. Although he was rather calm I was a hysterical wreck. I turned him every which way to examine the wounds. There were no gashed or slashed areas except s small chunk of flesh missing from under his right thigh but there were hundreds of tiny puncture marks all over his underside and around the neck and left ear. Much to his chagrin Lobo is currently in isolation in a pen with a roof and will remain there for the next two weeks for observation. As of tonight he is moving about as though nothing had happened but I am concerned about a possible rabies infection even though he had his shots just four months ago. The ground is frozen solid and there is no blood trail so I have no idea as to where the skirmish took place. BYC members, any idea as to what type of varmint Lobo sparred with last night? Lobo is not a large dog: 12 to 13 inches at the shoulder. Due to the bites on his underside the varmint had to be very low to the ground. There was no odoriferous scent lingering so I doubt it was a skunk. This concerns me for I doubt my chickens could fare as well as Lobo should another encounter take place once I set my coops in place.