Monday, October 29, 2007


Jack London doesn't have to worry about copyright infringement from me, but I did have a backyard animal adventure that Steve Irwin and Marlon Perkins would appreciate.

Even if you aren't one of the people I've told this story to, you won't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what happens in the end.

My dog Roxy has two different calls of the wild. The first is how she expresses her need to go potty. This "call" takes place with her quietly standing still at the back window and staring into the backyard. When she is allowed out, she proceeds at a leisurely gait and sometimes she changes her mind and doesn't go out.

Her other call of the wild occurs when she becomes agitated by her spirit of territoriality. This is not done quietly or still, She'll continue pacing and/or going nuts barking, until you let her out. Once the door is opened just a crack, she runs out like the Dickens to the part of the yard that needs "protecting." (Did Charles Dickens run particularly fast? If so let me know).

This animal stuff is all new to me. I'm a city boy and while living in Brooklyn I was limited in seeing varmints. Actually, it wouldn't be that much of an exaggeration to say that other than loose domestic pets, my neighborhood offered little more than dead rats and little brown birds. So, coming to South Jersey and having rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, moles, voles, snakes and possums running (and slithering) around is kind of refreshing. I even saw a fox for the first time in my life a few months ago.

The refreshing part ends when you let the dog out and she dashes with malice at one of these uninvited guests. I sometimes worry what would happen if she ever ran down one of the critters. The point is moot because, luckily, no self-respecting squirrel, rabbit or chipmunk is ever going to be tracked down especially when they have the luxury of a head start..

Now its time to tell Watson to fetch your pipe and deerstalker hat, (that's a Sherlock Holmes reference).

A couple of weeks ago a new denizen of our backyard moved in and has taken refuge under our deck and shed. Andrew, Sue and I have all seen it and thought it might have been a gopher, hedgehog or a groundhog. We have these clues, it's not nocturnal, the backyard isn't full of holes and it's rodent-like. Its kind of big maybe 10-15 pounds, has solid brown fur but not the small eyes of a burrower.

We sometimes call him Sonic (the hedgehog) or Ralph. But I lean towards Waddles or Waddles Canal because from the back, the only way to describe his walk is; waddling.

We had a few days of rain and Roxy wasn't getting out as frequently as she liked to do her business. When the rain let-up, she seemed to be jones-ing to go out. Sue let Roxy out and instead of flying towards the fence where the squirrels hang out, she ran to the middle of the yard. Unfortunately for Waddles, that's where he was...about 75 feet back, (25 feet in front of the shed.)

Apparently Waddles is neither a heavy thinker nor an Olympic sprinter. In his life or death moment of decision with so little distance between him and the sanctuary under the shed, the moron never moved! In less than 5 seconds the dog pounced and savagely took the schmendrick in her mouth. Sue screamed as Roxy viciously twisted her head from side to side. I guess that's an instinctual maneuver to disorient their prey before killing it. This attack and Sue's screaming went on for ten seconds.

From our vantage point in the Florida-Room, it looked like the dog was ripping Waddles to pieces. Roxy finally dropped the ignoramus but Waddles did NOT waddle towards the shed. The dog picked it back up and started the process again but she lost her grip. At that time Waddles, with no sense of urgency, waddled under the shed.

Since then, I haven't seen Waddles, but I haven't seen any U-Hauls out there or rodent-size luggage either. I think he got off easy, took the hint and moved in the middle of the night. Hopefully for every one's sake, we've seen the last of Waddles Canal.

Drop me a line and give me your guess on what animal he was (is). And I'll give you whatever updates that come across my desk.

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