1) Alligators - particularly ones that eat shih tzus for dinner
These are rational enough fears given that a gator was found in the pool of a neighborhood we considered and that there are five kinds of venomous snakes in the area.
As is typical in my life, my fears were misdirected, and I was oblivious to the real danger at hand. In this case: swans.
Yes, I know. Swans are beautiful. Graceful, elegant, and all that. What everyone fails to mention is how nasty these birds are. I don't just mean temperamental; we're talking full on aggressive. When it comes to "fight or flight", these birds pick fight and relish it.
I didn't think much when I first saw the swans swimming in the canal behind our house. I assumed they'd do their thing, we'd do ours, and life would go on peacefully.
Then on the night of August 17th, I noticed something large ... and white ... and angry staring in the window.
Ernie and Nelson ran to investigate and were issued several hostile warnings letting them know who was boss around these parts. (Unfortunately, Ernie doesn't speak hiss, and he remains under the delusion that he made a new bird friend that night.)
The swan hung around for a good 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe he expected to be allowed inside for a visit and a sample of our tasty little mammals? I didn't know, and I didn't want to find out.
When he finally left, we noticed a steaming black present on the patio. The whole thing was like the scene from a mob movie where the new business in the neighborhood is paid a visit and politely but firmly informed how things are going to work.
The meaning was apparent: don't mess with the swan mafia.
Message received, loud and clear. I've since taken to walking Ernie in the front yard and keeping alert when I spend time on the patio. I've noticed they do swim-bys and pause to stare at the house every afternoon. I was outside during yesterday's and found myself making a mental calculation of how quickly I could make it inside should they dart up the bank.
Gators and snakes? Child's play.