Kage Baker was a cryptozoology fan. She followed strange, mythical, newly discovered or recently missing animals stories closely, finding a lot of fodder for stories in them. It amused us to keep track of “Company projects” in the news – a lot of our friends and family still do, and send their finds gleefully to me.
I got one today from an old friend, Tom Westlake – our own, our very own Lord of Misrule. He sent me a link to a fascinating chupacabra story, complete with video – and not the usual hairless coyote loping in front of a police camera, glancing over its shoulder at the astonished arms of the Law. It’s from St. George County, Maryland, where a group of people filmed and briefly captured a strange little creature. They claim it’s a chupacabra. What is is, certainly, is yet another “unknown canid” – feral, slate blue and extravagantly bald. What the hell is going on with chupacabras?
Kage was quite fascinated, not so much with chupacabras as with their swift, modern evolution in the news. What began as bad sketches of red-eyed insectile humanoids has changed universally to videos of hairless blue canids – at least in the United States. Here, though, they seem to wander back country roads and primly leave the goats alone; this one was trapped using leftover Chinese food – which it seems to quite enjoy. Far from the snarling little bidedal horrors of the original myth, what we see nowadays are usually pegged as coyotes or foxes with appalling mange.
Take a look:
Its captors immortalized it on video and then turned it loose. I don’t blame them; there is something a little pitiful about it. It’s so very bald … on the other hand, while I applaud not turning the chupacabra over to heartless scientists, I rather wish they had at least consulted a vet. Maybe something could be done about its mange. Or we could at least find out if some branch of the Canidae has thrown a mutation that is normally, healthily, bald as an egg and the colour of a walking bruise.
Frankly, I think it’s rather pretty. I also think it’s a fox – the long legs, the delicate facial bones, the huge ears. Also, at the end of the tape, there is the hint of a white tuft of hair still decorating its very, very long tail. All in all, it’s a rather fey looking wee beastie, and not scary at all. I guess a chicken or a mu gu gai pan might feel differently, but I can’t imagine this critter successfully menacing a goat …
A far cry from the South American versions, which attack goats fatally and make threatening gestures at distressed goatherds with huge, lobsterish claws. But it’s definitely the same thing seen in recent years all over the United States. So what it is? No one knows, it’s a mystery.
I must have watched this clip a couple of dozen times today, studying the beastie. That’s one of the reasons this post is so late. Also, though, I had to write that forward for Tachyon Publishing on Kage’s silent movie reviews – which I did manage to complete and get in on time! Took some family members shoe shopping. Waited by the door (biting my nails supportively) while nephew Michael took his first driving lesson, and applauded his triumph as he returned not only unscathed but more than ready to hit the road in the family car. Have cheered on the production of meatloaf, and failed to convince Harry the parrot that sugar cane is a nice treat and not a disguised parrot-eater.
Busy day. Kage business, writing business, ordinary life business, and a nice little dollop of weirdness just so I know it’s still my life.
And now, Dear Readers, time for a refreshing iced coffee drink and a dive back into “Marswife”. Because a volume of Mars stories is due next year, and I’m a little short …
It’s not that it attacks the goats – they just die laughing. Probably Cabra Muere de Risa didn’t look so good on the T-shirts?
I think what that canid might be is a Peruvian Hairless dog or some variant thereof. They’re not that common in Peru nowadays, but the shape and color are about right. The males often have a silly tuft of whiteish hair on top of their heads. I’ll go see if I can find a picture reference of them at home in Peru. I remember seeing them on an hacienda in northern Peru in the 1970s.
Easier than I thought – google on “Peruvian Hairless’ and all kinds of images come up. Apparently some have been imported to the US, and I’d guess the Maryland one is an escapee.Wikipedia says one of its alternate names is Peruvain Inca Orchid – oh dear!
Interesting, Margaret! The Maryland animal does resemble a Peruvian Hairless very strongly, and could well be an escapee. On the other hand, what accounts for the other blue, bald canids seen around the US? Texas, Minnesota, Maryland, Arizona … I admit, dogs get loose wherever they live, and a feral dog both blue and bald is certainly one that attracts attention! I’d still like to know for sure, because if they are not escapees, something weird is afflicting dog-kin all over this country.
As they’ve been around in Peru since pre-Inca times, they must have a talent for survival, despite the skin problems that the Wikipedia article says they’re inclined to get. Also, for me, the enthusiasm for Chinese food is the clincher – lots of Chinese restaurants (called ‘chifa’) all over Peru, started by Chinese people who built the railroads there in the 1880s. So much so that there’s a Chinese-origin dish (‘arroz chaufa’ – basically fried rice with egg, veg, and perhaps meat) that’s on the menu of many ordinary middle-to-low-range Peruvian restaurants. So the poor dog was easily tempted – Yum! Comfort food! So can we get this into the How to catch a Chupacabra manual?
I think Chinese food may well be the perfect general cryptid and feral animal bait – almost nothing *doesn’t* like it. Both our cats here, the Corgi (a notoriously picky eater) and the parrot adore it – Harry, in fact, will advance predatorily and simply open Chinese food cartons when he sees them and help himself. (Pets with hands …) I understand Pop Tarts, pancakes and beer are also universal bait.
As for the manual – oh, dear, we have to write it.