Saturday, April 30, 2011

The mighty hunter is back

There is a short window of time when walking my dog, Squishy, is actually fun. When the temperatures warm enough for the snow to melt, there's a good couple of weeks in there before little critters begin to stir, and the Squish and I can take to the streets and enjoy a nice walk together.

That time is over now.

The Squish is a slow, chubby, sweet, stupid lab-husky mix. She's got a goofy smile, she's great with kids and she's afraid of absolutely everthing, including, but not limited to: rustling plastic bags, the act of putting my laptop on my lap, adolescent boys, sunglasses, hats, and balloons being blown up.

This is why it is absolutely dumbfounding what happens to her in late spring: She becomes a cold-blooded killer. Last summer, she killed and ate five bunnies that made their way into my fenced-in backyard. One day, I walked into the dining room and there she was, laying down with the decapitated head of a rabbit between her paws, gnawing away on one of its ears. I thought I would faint.

So, on our walks this time of year, I have to be ever vigilent to make sure I see the bunnies or squirrels or birds first so I can steel myself and prepare for her to lunge forward with her full fat/strength and just about rip my arm off.

It's not the live animals that are the most bothersome, however. Luckily, when she sees a live creature, she tends to pause for about three seconds before she lunges. With dead critters, there is no pause. She turns into a gator and snaps them up instantaneously. Sometimes, she's so fast, I don't even know she has one in her mouth.

Like today, in the middle of our hour-long walk, I looked down, and she had the deadest, flattest squirrel hanging out either side of her mouth.

I can't even explain to you the rush of adrenaline and terror I feel when I have to deal with a situation like this. Today, I grabbed a stick and tried poking at her jaws to see if she'd open up and drop it. Didn't work. I had to take an empty plastic bag and pull on the dead head of the corpse until I finally won the tug of war. After years of playing tug of war with her with stuffed animals, she always thinks it's a game, so she growls and pulls. ... It was awful.

When it was taken care of, I was shaking from head to toe. I could still feel it's little claws against my palm with only a thin sheath of plastic between it and my hands. And the Squish was looking up at me with a sort of joie de vivre, anxious to sniff out the next dead thing to snap up.

Outdoor exercise just got more interesting.

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