My dog is dumb as dirt, but he’s hyper and insecure. He barks at everything, and has no concept of home-territory. He yaps at butterflies and birds if they enter his yard. He barks at and chases, but never catches the resident bunny, who always escapes through a tiny hole under the six-foot wooden fence between us and the neighbors.
I’m sure he barked one day when a cloud went in front of the sun. Birds on the power lines across the street irk him, and, when hot-air balloons used to launch from a nearby park, we almost had to put him in the basement and feed him Valium. That’s HIS SKY!
When I have to rush out through the French door to shut him up, and pacify the neighbors, especially at night, I have developed a technique to push it closed. I don’t want it to slam into the frame, so I give it just enough of a quick push to just touch, or remain an inch or two ajar….usually.
When we’d had our little female cat just over a week, Dumb-Dog got mouthy one afternoon. I rushed out, got him shut up, and forced him back inside, not realizing that the door had been open three inches. Several minutes later we heard the most piteous yowling outside.
Not used to freedom, little Contessa had gone exploring, down off the deck, and into the basement window-well below the living-room window. I went out to bring her back in. Already skittish about being picked up, and overwhelmed by the Great Outdoors, she wanted to get in the basement window. When I tried to reach her, she started leaping for the living-room window, six feet over her head.
On about the third or fourth jump, I caught her in mid-air, and quickly turned for the door. It was like catching the Tasmanian Devil. She shredded both hands and wrists. I put her back down as quickly and gently as I could. She went back to the window-well. I went back inside, dripping blood across the deck and kitchen floor. The wife washed me down, applied antiseptic salve, and used up a First Aid kit worth of gauze and tape.
With her still yowling outside, I went to the garage, donned a pair of welding gauntlets I own, and sallied forth again. Again, after several leaps, I caught her in mid-air and headed for the door. She left marks in the heavy gloves, but settled down soon after being tossed in. Total time spent – more than a half-hour. Total blood lost – ???!
Fast-forward to about a week ago. I let the dog out about 3:30 AM, as we were getting ready to go to bed. He immediately began barking and facing the fence. I thought the rabbit had escaped again, but he kept it up. I went out to smack his butt and shut him up. He wasn’t looking down the rabbit hole. He was staring up at the neighbor’s pear tree, just beyond the fence.
I thought perhaps he’d seen a bat, so I looked up….and came eyeball to eyeball, a claw-length away from a possum as big as a refrigerator. Okay, a bar-fridge! Not exactly running, I headed the dog towards the house. The door was gapped a tiny bit, and three male cats crouched inside, watching – and then I heard MEEOOW from the front gate. Oh Shit!!
With the dog inside, I grabbed a flashlight and went back out. Sure enough, a little pair of green eyes watched me from the fence corner. Slowly I advanced, so as not to spook her. Just as I leaned down to pick her up, she scuttled towards the house, and stuck her head in a spot between it, and one of my water barrels. Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, if she can’t see danger, it can’t see her.
I dropped the flashlight, grabbed her with both hands and headed for the door, post-haste. She’s become habituated to me handling her. She didn’t like it, but this time she didn’t force me to leave DNA evidence behind. In fact, the transfer went so quickly and easily that I had time to wonder if I’d just dumped somebody else’s lost cat into my house. That’s all I’d need, one more, in a house with four cats and a dog.
Possums are not common this far north, and not in the city. The wife says she’s seen one on the sound-berm. I’ve seen the rare one as road-kill, but never a live one, and definitely not at moustache-hair range. I’m lucky it was just a possum. The neighbor lady says we now have a racoon, half as big as the dog, in the neighborhood. All’s well that ended well, and, of course, I was able to go straight to bed and to sleep immediately, after that double-header heart-stopper.