Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Stella Does it Again

It was late. Ruanita had already gone upstairs to bed. I had stayed up too late watching the Olympics and was beyond sleepy. I let the dog out the back door to pee and trudged to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I piddled around, plugging up my cell phone charger. Making sure my iPod was in my bag for work the next day. Watching a few more minutes of the Olympics. Eventually, I headed to the back door to let Stella in. Typically, she would have already done her business and would have been waiting patiently on the back step for me to let her in. Last night, however, she was not.

The back yard was dark. I called to her. “Stella! Come on in!” I got no response. No forty-pound boxer running at a full gallop from the back of the yard to crash clumsily into my shins. No response at all. I called again. “Stella! Come on! Let’s get a cookie!” No response. Where was that dang dog? I heard an odd sound coming from the left side of the yard. Eeek. Eeek. Eeek. It sounded quite a bit like the crescendo played during the stabbing scene in the movie “Psycho.” Eeek. Eeek. Eeek. I did not hear Stella at all.

I turned on the back porch light and found Stella under the bushes that line the left hand side of our back yard. She was staring at the ground. Intent. Completed riveted by whatever was on the ground in front of her. I called to her again. “Stella! Get over here!” She ignored me completely. She did not even look my way.

It was then that I noticed something moving on the ground below Stella. It was in one of the many holes that Stella insists on digging beneath the bushes. Great, I thought. She killed another rabbit. I was mad at Stella by this point, for killing Thumper in our own back yard again. But more importantly, I was pissed at her for ignoring me. I am her master. And she was completely disregarding me. Eeek. Eeek. Eeek. I yelled louder. “Stella! Get over her!” Again, she refused to even look at me. “Stella!” I screamed, ratcheting myself up for a good “crazy lady” show for the neighbors. “Get over here! Right! Now!”

Stella continued to fixate on the creature on the ground running in circles trying to get away from her. Stella was not malicious. She had no intention of eating the creature. She was in full-on play mode. Her little stub of a tail was wagging happily. She batted at the creature, knocking it around. She grabbed it in her droopy jowls and tossed it into the air. She buried it and recovered it in the same hole under the bushes. Over and over again. Eeek. Eeek. Eeek.

I ran into the house to grab a flashlight. Perhaps if I distracted her with a flashlight, she would come. And I could get a good look at the object of her “fun.” I shined the flashlight under the bushes. The creature sped toward me. I screamed and jumped. It ran back to the hole and the perceived safety it felt there. Stella still ignored me completely. I squatted down and tried ducking under the bushes to grab Stella by the collar. Stella, however, would have no part of that plan. As I was struck in the face with branch after branch, Stella grabbed the creature in her mouth and ran to the other end of the back yard.

After twenty minutes stumbling around the dark back yard attempting to get Stella back in the house, I stormed inside and grabbed her leash. That damn dog was coming in if it was the last thing I ever did! I walked to the back of the yard where she had her “toy” lying in the mulch. Eeek. Eeek. Eeek. I reached down to grab her collar. She took off like a flash, toy in her mouth. I eventually cornered her next to the air conditioner and hooked the leash onto her collar. I dragged her, kicking and screaming, into the house, cleaned the dirt from her nails (I hate when she digs) and left her looking forlorn in the kitchen. I went out to investigate her prey.

With flashlight in hand, I looked to see what type of poor, innocent little creature Stella had murdered this time. It was not a rabbit. Perhaps a mouse? No, it didn’t look like a mouse. It had a weird snout. It was only about four inches long. Gray and furry. Perhaps it was a baby possum. It kind of looked like a possum. Or a mole. As I feverishly tried to determine the exact genus and species this creature belonged to, I heard the back door open behind me. Before I could yell “No!” Stella was in the yard again, scooping the creature right out from under me and happily bouncing around the yard with it in her mouth.

“Shit! What the hell?!?!” I screamed. I turned and looked up to see Lucas standing sheepishly in the doorway.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

I was furious. “I have just spent thirty minutes trying to get Stella inside and you just let her out again!”

“I’m sorry, momma. I didn’t know.” I must have looked as deranged as I felt at that moment because Lucas started slowly backing into the house. Looking at me as though I was a viperous stranger perched in his backyard rather than his own mom.

I didn’t care about the fear in his eyes. I roared again. “Just go to bed!” Lucas ran from the kitchen.

I grabbed Stella by the collar with my bare hands. I was angry enough that a leash was not necessary this time. Stella could sense my anger and was finally paying attention to me. I dragged her into the house to find Ruanita standing in the kitchen looking at me as though I had morphed into Hitler during my escapades in the back yard.

“He didn’t know,” she said softly. Apparently, Lucas had spilled the beans about my hateful rampage in the back yard.

I should have been remorseful. For a moment, I did feel a twinge of regret until Ruanita stopped me as I began heading upstairs to apologize to Lucas.

“What are you doing?” she asked. “You can’t leave that thing outside.”

“What?”

“Seriously. You have to go pick it up. Dispose of it. Stella will just try to get it again in the morning when I let her out. You know I don’t do furry things.”

Despite my festering rage at that very moment, I knew she was right. It was the unwritten law upon which our entire marriage was based. She does not do furry things. She handles bugs. I handle all critters with fur. It had been the law of the land for fifteen years. Who was I to argue with the law?

I slipped my feet back into my flip-flops for the twentieth time that evening. I grabbed my flashlight and a doggie poop bag and headed back out into the dark back yard. I crouched next to the little possum/mole and shined my flashlight on it. Oh shit. It was still breathing. It looked dead. It wasn’t moving. But there it was…the distinct rhythmic rise of its little chest. Oh, God. I thought I might puke. Whose job was it to clean puke from the back yard? I couldn’t remember.

It is nearly impossible to pick something up without touching it. But dammit, I tried. I spread my hand out as far as I could, wrapped it in the poop bag, and grabbed a good six inch radius of dirt and mulch all around the creature. I turned the bag inside out, afraid to tie it. I held the bag by the very tip, trying with all my might to avoid feeling the creature’s little chest move. I gingerly placed it—bag, mulch, dirt, and all—in the alley trash.

Later, after I had apologized to Lucas for my misplaced rage and had climbed into bed, I turned to Ruanita and let out a loud “Eeek! Eeek! Eeek!”

It may be foundation upon which our marriage is based, but I do not like handling furry creatures either.

3 comments:

Madgew said...

I was captivated by your midnight adventure. I don't do furry things unless I have to. I once had a dog who killed a family of opossums in my backyard. I called for my teenage sons and they came out and stood on lawn chairs saying they weren't going to help. They went inside. I called my divorced neighbor and she and I scooped up the dead animals and placed them in the trash can. I still remember it and it was probably 20 years ago. EEEEEEEEEEEEk is right. That Stella.

Sam said...

Our boxer's are expert bunny killers. It's nasty. Poor Sara. Clean up of any remains ALWAYS go to her. Bleck!

Anonymous said...

Cracking up about your "good night" to Raunita! Good humor.

~Mariah

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