Midnight in the Garden of Dogs and Spiders

27 Sep

I am a dog owner: not to be confused with a dog lover.  Dog lovers swoon over their dogs, snuggle with them in private, and secretly wish all people were more like dogs. I am not that. I know a lot of dog lovers,and I don’t want them to think I am cold-hearted or mean because of my limited affection for four-legged creatures.  I think what I lack for pets, I more than make up for towards children. Regardless, I am a very conscientious and responsible dog owner who takes really good care of the animals, is always kind to them, and is thoughtful about their needs.  So, when I returned to the States a few months ago and commenced a stent of living alone with my 22 year-old, two dogs and two cats, it was important to establish some respectful boundaries for all of us.

The first rule I had to enforce was no dogs in the bedroom overnight. The scratching and ear flapping wake me up and I sleep a little uneasily anyway, so its a reasonable limit.  I bought two crates and two dog beds and re-crate trained the canines to sleep alone downstairs.  I feel just guilty enough that I let them stay with me until the absolute latest moment I can remain awake, then take them down,let them out one more time, give them a  milkbone and then into the crate they go until I let them out around 5 am.

Unfortunately, that’s not how the series of events unfolded on Tuesday night.  At around eleven, I let them out and immediately heard the lapdog tear off into the wooded part of the lawn.  The leaves crunched rhythmically beneath his paws as he tore a path along the fence, back and forth, back and forth, crunch, crunch, crunch. When I called them in, only one appeared. I groaned with frustration, crated the dutiful and obedient beagle and went back for the pest.  “Oscar.”  I pleaded, cajoled, commanded,  but nothing worked.  Crunch, crunch, crunch, the sound of his feet trotting the quickstep back and forth through the foliage was all I heard.  “Oscar!”  I yelled one last time and then gave up. I went upstairs and asked my son to try again in a few minutes.  Almost immediately, the barking started.  Short, sharp, and incessant.

The next thing I heard was my son on the phone explaining that he was going out to see about the dog agreeing that the barking was odd.  From my bedroom, I heard “Oscar, come here. Get over here. Come here, you bastard.”  My son too was out of patience and getting no response.  The barking was relentless.

In a huff, I put my clothes back on, put on my tennis shoes and descended the stairs, resigning myself to having to physically retrieve the damn dog from the backyard.  When I got outside, Aaron had the flashlight from his iPhone trained into the wooded part of our lot and he filled me in.  Oscar was squared off with a possum. “Get me a stick so I can shoo him away and we maybe we can go to bed.” my son offered.  I went back inside and got a broom.

We quickly concluded that he would hold the light and I would do the shooing.  What happened next was the culmination of my slow reflexes and my serious lack of previous experience with vermin known as possums.  From a safe distance, I pushed the broom toward the possum’s face fully expecting it to simply run away.  Wrong.  The possum stood its ground and gave me a loud open-mouthed hiss revealing an obscene number of needle-like daggers in its ridiculously huge mouth. The hiss clearly cued Oscar that he and I were on the same team, and since the possum was now out-numbered, his moment to attack had arrived.  In a split second, the two became one ball of fur and teeth rolling through the woods.  I let out a scream and started beating the heap with the broom hoping to limit the damage to my boutique, freshly groomed, a-hole of a dog. Running through the woods, wielding a broom, screaming “STOP IT! STOP IT!”  with each blow of my broom – it was not my finest moment.  After three or more swats, Oscar dropped the possum. Finally, it acted the way I expected it to – it played dead. I chased the insolent dog into the house and tried to regain my composure.  Standing in the kitchen, panting and cursing, I caught a glimpse of my sweater sleeve in the light.  I was covered with spider webs and even had a few hangers-on dangling from my arm.  More screaming, clothes stripped off, hair shaking – a full-blown, heeby-geeby, freak-out ensued!

There is nothing like a midnight adrenaline rush. Just as I regained my wits, my cellphone rang.  It was my neighbor, Peggy.  “Allison, you okay?  I can hear the barking and screaming all the way over here!”  “I’ll be just fine as soon as I kill a dog and take a shower, Peggy.  How are you?”

One Response to “Midnight in the Garden of Dogs and Spiders”

  1. Paul September 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    Jeez, lucky he wasn’t rabid instead of just rapid. I’ve come to dislike opossums–they mess with your chickens and your head.

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