Saturday, April 17, 2010

Killer Dogs, A Love Story

This is not an amusing tale, so don’t laugh. This is a story of death and mayhem, and what happens when creatures venture into unknown territory. It’s also a tale of redemption and the struggle of the human spirit to survive in a world of chaos and destruction.

Or not.

Anyway. I live happily with one husband and two dogs. Last night charming husband was away for his one night a week in Seattle, and I was out late. Not late for some people, but late for me, who is never out much at all. I was at a fabulous birthday dinner, and met lots of wonderful people, and got to sit next to the birthday girl. It was a great evening.

Then I drove myself home. I was looking forward to getting home because I always look forward to getting home and it’d been a long day. This was especially true since I’d taken the day off and hadn’t done a lick of work. (What is a lick of work? I don’t even lick envelopes – I get the self-sealing kind so I don’t have to.) It was a nice night out and was, as it typically is at 10 pm, dark. It took just over an hour to get home.

The dogs, who had been left out in the back yard while I was gone, weren’t their usual barky selves when I pulled up. They know the sound of our vehicles, and the UPS truck, and bark enthusiastically when they hear any of them. The UPS driver doesn’t appreciate it much, but it’s not as if they jump over the fence and attack him or anything.

I thought this was odd. They never go anywhere without me or charming husband.

I went into the house, and then heard one of them scratch at the back door. I’ve asked them not to scratch at the door, but I might as well ask birds not to fly. I opened the back sliding door and let them in. They ran in as they usually door, in a hurry, which is only allowed if they’re feet are clean. Since it’s been dry, they rushed in, told me how happy they were to see me, ran around for a few seconds , and then asked to go back outside. I thought this was odd since they’d been out long enough, six hours anyway, that whatever needed to be done outside should have been done.

Then they came back again, and wanted back out again. This time I looked out in the back yard. It’s extremely dark out there, at least during the hours when the sun isn’t up. We have only the back porch light, and it doesn’t illuminate much of anything. But I saw something on the ground. Or did I?
There’s no grass in that section. The dogs have made sure of that, and we’re going to put river rock in the area this year so they can run back and forth all they want and not kill anything. It’s the area right outside the door.

It could have been a shadow. It could have been wet dirt next to dry dirt, though how just that one area got wet . . .  maybe someone peed on it? In the shape of a dead animal?

Highly unlikely. I got a bit closer. Not that I wanted to, mind you.

Dead animal, with long black tail. Or long tail. Hard to see what color it was in the dark, but it looked to be all black. And not moving. I wouldn’t expect it to be moving, had it been in the yard any length of time. 

And it wasn’t.

I made the dogs come back into the house. At this point they weren’t bothering said poor animal, but running around as if the night were still young and they were ready for an all-nighter.

They came back in, and were disappointed when I wouldn’t let them out again. Too bad for them. I told them I was very disappointed in them, to which they responded, “Yeah, but did you see what we DID?”

I called charming husband in Seattle and told him what had happened at the homestead. I don’t know why – I needed to tell someone because I was feeling a bit queasy about having a dead animal of some sort in my back yard. And I was afraid it was a cat.

I love cats. I love dogs, and have them, and I don’t have cats, but I bear them no ill will. One of the dogs, Ash, doesn’t either – he bears no one ill will, but he doesn’t know cats and thinks they’re toys. Honey, on the other hand, bears much ill will toward cats. I chalk this up to her abusive puppyhood before I rescued her. I think she was severely traumatized by a renegade kitty, which would explain her aversion to cats.

I was sad.

Charming husband advised me how to proceed in the morning. I had no intention of venturing back out in the dark to figure it out. “Put on two pairs of gloves,” he said, “And, if you need to, there’s a clothes pin you can put on your nose.”

The gloves I can understand. We have a box of the medical laytex gloves that we use for sensitive medical procedures and other things that go on around here. But a clothes pin? Why would we 1) have a clothes pin, and 2) why would I want to put one on my nose?

“But that’s going to really hurt my nose,” I said, stating the obvious.

“Yeah, but you won’t be able to smell anything.”

“I don’t care, I’m not putting a clothes pin on my nose.”

“Okay, but just in case.”

Where does he get these things?

After sitting up for a couple of hours watching reruns of Criminal Minds, in which many people dye gruesomely (and this does not bother me in the least – these are fictional tv people, after all, and even so, they’re still just people, not cute little kitties or doggies), we went to bed. I told the dogs to keep their distance from me because I was not pleased. They were so tired from their adventures they didn’t really care anyway.

This morning they started making “go outside” noises, as in, “Let us out right now! We left a toy out there and we want to play!”

I told them no way and suited up. The big plastic garbage bags were not where they belonged. In their place was a box which once held big plastic garbage bags, but it was empty. So I took a smaller kitchen garbage bag , double gloved, and ventured outside, telling the dogs to stay put. They actually did so, which was a huge surprise.

I approached the poor dead kitty, for kitty it was, carefully. Not that I thought it might jump up and attack me after feigning death all night, like some demented kitty in a slasher movie, but to show respect. I then apologized to said kitty for its tragic fate. I told said kitty, who had actually been quite lovely in real life, that I thought she was a lovely kitty, and that I would seek revenge on her behalf.
Perhaps that last phrase isn’t quite true.

Kitty had a hole in her side, a big gaping hole, as if someone had cut into her with surgical precision and then decided, halfway in, to just start ripping out intestines.

I picked up kitty by her pretty black tail. She was stiff as a board. For all I knew, someone had thrown her into the yard already dead. I’m not sure who would do that, or why, but I’ll take any sort of implausibility as a sign my dogs aren’t killers.

Getting her into the bag was a bit tricky, but nothing my years of accounting hadn’t trained me for. I then double bagged kitty, and took her out to the garage for charming husband to dispose of. If I’d had yellow crime tape I would have marked the scene of the crime, but I’m all out.

Then the dogs were free to go outside, and they rushed to where they’d left their new toy and then looked at me, disbelief on their little doggy faces.

“Life’s tough,” I said, “Get used to it.”

Their response was to look at me with that “What the hell?” response I’m so used to from them.

I hope kitty wasn’t someone’s much beloved pet. I’m not in the mood to go door to door asking if someone has misplaced their kitty just so I can announce, “I found it! And it’s dead!” Of course, then I could hand over double bagged kitty. My insensitivity knows no bounds.

I have a very plausible scenario for how kitty ended up in our backyard. Work with me here. I think kitty is new to the neighborhood, and therefore didn’t realize that this is one of those yards she should avoid. So she’s out doing her thing, walking along the fence perhaps, when suddenly, due to poor nutrition and a reluctance to exercise, she experiences a massive heart attack. And then plop, she falls into the yard, already dead. I’m going to go with this one I think, because it helps to alleviate my guilt. I know the dogs didn’t leave the yard to go out hunting. Despite their best efforts, they’ve yet to figure out how to get out. In this one thing, we’re smarter than they are. It’s not much, but sometimes it’s all we’ve got.

The dogs are grounded for the time being. No play dates, no Internet access, no telephones. Just wait till their father gets home.

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