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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Post #34: Pack Animals


Seeing the dogs at the Buda races reminded me of the beauty of the Pack.
It is always amazing to watch two dogs hunting together.  Several times Henry would start the chase against a possum that dared cross his back yard.  PD would join him as soon as he heard Henry’s first bark.  The two dogs would act as a team to herd the possum into an impossible predicament, and then begin the attack.

Henry and PD would take turns lunging at the possum, wearing it down until one or the other could make a debilitating bite.

When I heard the hunting sound of my two dachshunds I would grab my gloves and whatever tool I thought might be useful to either save or dispatch whatever unfortunate critter they were hunting down.

Usually, I arrived too late, or was too slow to save the possums.  Then my job was to keep the dogs from bringing their prize into the house or eating it.  I learned from these experiences that fleas are extremely fickle.  As soon as the blood stops flowing, they abandon ship and look for a new source of food.  This is usually the dogs that killed the critter, or the man that stooped over to pick it up.  Everybody got a bath after a critter – kill.

One evening, I arrived home from work to the sounds of barking dachshunds.  It was after sundown and the backyard was dark.  Kathy stood near the back fence with a flashlight in her hands.  A couple of lawn timbers had been stacked up near the fence.  PD and Henry were taking turns lunging and barking at a small opening between the fence and the timbers.  “There’s a baby possum wedged in there!” Kathy told me.  “You’ve got to get the dogs in the house so we can free it!”

“Let me see, first.” I said while taking the flashlight from Kathy.

As I shone the light on the timbers, PD darted in and then ran back to the house.  I had just commanded the dogs to “get back, wait!” and was really proud that they were obeying me.  Usually, the dogs just ignore me when I tell them to do something and food or prey are nearby.

“He’s got it!  PD’s got the possum!” Kathy was shouting.  I told her, “No, I don’t think so.  I think I see it right there.  Let me move this log.”

“No! He’s gone in the house!”

“I think I see it right there.”

I moved the lawn timber and found … nothing.

“Hmmm   … well, maybe he did get it I said, doubtfully.”  Why do we always doubt our spouses?

This was unusual.  PD usually stuck to roaches, when it came to hunting.  Possums were Henry’s territory.  While PD would help Henry with the hunt, it was always Henry that made the kill.  If the creature looked dangerous at all, it was always Henry who was on the front line of barking the danger away and showing his teeth.

PD was the second line of defense.  He would hang back, close to the house, or close to me, and do his ferocious barking from a safe distance.

So, I really didn’t believe that PD had grabbed the possum.

I walked up the steps, through the back door, and into the kitchen.

PD was standing in the middle of a gruesome murder scene.  As PD savagely shook the possum back and forth, Henry sat calmly in the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room.  He gave PD an approving look.  It seemed as if Henry had become the proud instructor watching his star pupil perform the flawless slaughter of his first victim.

PD’s head shook violently back and forth.  The possum was flung from side to side.  Droplets of possum blood sprayed across the room.  Blood was splattered on the floor, the cabinets, the stove and the counter tops.

I have no doubt that if PD had been a taller dog there would have been blood dripping from the ceiling.

I ordered PD to “Drop it!”  Thankfully, he did.  I picked up the possum and carried it outside as Kathy was coming up the steps.

“You don’t want to go in there.” I advised. 
Of course, she had to go in.  She had to see the mayhem and the gore left behind.
Henry had done his job well.  He had trained PD, and PD was now a full-fledged hunter.