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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Post #23: PD the Hunter

Of all the hounds we have owned (three dachshunds and a beagle), I think PD has the best nose.

Henry was our hunter of possums, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and birds.  PD was a just a little too small to chase the bigger animals, and he didn’t really have his heart into chasing squirrels and birds.

PD saved his nose and his hunting skills for nasty critters that tried to invade our house.  He could smell and track these critters even when we had no idea they were in the house with us.

We were living in a pier and beam house that was built sometime around 1919 or 1920.  Certain times of the year brought an invasion of large tree roaches.  They would come into our house in search of water, food, or a change in temperature.

In the mornings I would sit in the study and read the newspaper with PD and Henry on my lap or next to me.  Our routine in the evenings was for me to sit on the recliner, again, with PD and Henry close by, on my lap or next to me. 


One evening PD arose from the blanket with his nose in the air.  I watched as he sniffed the air in different directions.  Then, he zeroed in on the scent.  PD launched himself out of my lap and ran into the other room to the china hutch, his nose zig-zagging across the floor, tail held high, and his bark reverberating off the walls.

I was convinced some evil creature had come into the house.  What was it?  A snake?  A possum? A rat or mouse?  I followed PD to the hutch and got down on all fours.  I looked under the hutch, but couldn’t see anything.

PD turned and looked at me like I was stupid!  Then, coming to the conclusion that I really WAS stupid, he turned back to the china hutch and started barking while pawing at one corner.

“Do your job, Dad!  You have the hands.  Move this hutch.  It’s right here, under this corner!”  I got the message, so I moved the hutch.  And there it was, a really large tree roach, right where PD told me it would be.  PD chased the roach into the middle of the room and I stomped on it.

And so, the Great Roach Hunting partnership was born.  Now that I understood what was going on, I could be prepared for the next event.  If there was one.  After all, that could have just been a fluke.

Just in case there might be more hunts, I gave some thought to how to best deal with those large tree roaches.  They made a really big mess when squished.  I didn’t want to squish one on the throw rug.  We had a “grabber” in the kitchen.  It was about 3 feet long with a handle and trigger on one end.  The other end had a pair of suction cups attached to spring metal.  The cups were about a hand’s width apart when the grabber was at rest.  When I squeezed the trigger, the suction cups would be squeezed together.  I could use this to pick up objects off the floor or from high places.  I decided this might be useful if I could master it.
The tree roaches usually live in the large oak trees outside of our home.  But sometimes they venture inside either because it is too hot, too cold or too dry.  Pesticides can usually keep them out, but there are always times when even the pesticides won't work.

As it turns out, there were more hunting events.  The next time PD caught scent of a tree roach, he tracked it to its hiding place and I took off for the kitchen.  I grabbed my grabber while PD found the roach.  I’d move the furniture to expose the evil critter.  PD barked the roach into submission and I captured the roach, carrying it outside where I could squish him on the sidewalk.  PD followed me to make sure I ended the roach’s career of evil-doing.

Future events were very similar.  PD learned to chase the roaches toward me to make it easier for me to catch.  Sometimes they would try to make their escape up the wall, but I could get them with the grabber. 

The grabber was a great tool.  Unlike trying to pick up a roach with your fingers (disgusting), the roaches didn’t really seem to know it was there.  I could simply close in on them, and they wouldn’t try to escape.

It was fascinating to watch PD track a roach.  He would sniff around roach’s hiding place and let me know which side or corner of the object I needed to lift or move.  Sometimes I would move the object, a desk, hutch or bookcase, and the roach would run off in a crazy zig-zag motion. PD would track it, nose to the floor barking.

I could tell that he trusted his nose more than his eyes because he would follow the same path that the roach ran, rather than going directly to the next object that we both saw the roach scurry under.

Sometimes PD barked the offending roach into submission.  I would go into the room only to find the roach laying on its back, feet wriggling in the air, and PD barking loudly at the roach.  It looked as if PD were able to stun the roach, making it easier for me to pick up and dispose of.

Unfortunately, our hunting days are now behind us.  We have since moved into a home with a concrete foundation.  We no longer have tree roach intruders bent on doing evil things to us and our home.  I still have the grabber, just in case.  But for the most part PD and I spend uneventful evenings in front of the television watching the make believe adventures of others and only dreaming of our own exciting hunts.