It was a morning last January; the kind of Northern Illinois winter's day that makes you feel like the wind is driving needles into your cheeks. I was at my day job and my wife was home taking our dogs into the yard to "do their thing" in the freshly fallen snow of the night before (cue Frank Zappa.)
That was when she says that an animal loped its way past them but two houses down. It ran parallel to their position and continued off into the subdivision at an easterly heading. The animal's appearance was unnatural enough to send her inside with the dogs. She described it as having the legs and body of a deer, but the head and the tail of a fox, only minus the bushiness.
Let me first say that my wife is a very good witness. She is not a believer in anything such as UFOs, cryptids, or the like. In fact, when she finds me sitting and writing for Strange Horizons, she usually turns around and walks away while shaking her head and muttering under her breath. That said, my guess to her was that she saw a fox with a terrible case of mange. She was uncertain, citing that the legs looked a bit too long for that explanation. Winter marched on and I gradually forgot about the sighting.
Then the following photograph showed up at www.coasttocoastam.com:
(photo from Coast to Coast AM)
This is an animal that has been visiting a backyard in eastern Texas. The homeowner snapped a photo and submitted it to Animal Control. I immediately remembered the sighting and then showed the pic to my wife. She tells me that this is very much like the animal that she saw, only she's positive that her sighting had gray hair. Looking at the photo, I still stick with my original hypothesis that this is either a fox or a coyote with mange. If you look at the poor thing's mid-section, you can see the rib cage just beneath the skin. It's obviously sick or malnourished.
Not so, say wildlife officials in Texas. No one has yet to make a positive identification of this creature, leaving said officials to shake their heads at the photograph, saying "never seen anything like it."
So how about, Strangers? Ever seen a beast like this? Especially in the Midwestern region?
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