Thursday, May 05, 2011

Gang Green and Death by Flying Flip Flop

Last night as I was unpacking the boxes for the linen closet, our dog Snappy quietly snuck up behind me, curled up in the sheets and fell asleep. My spell check thing underlined snuck so I looked it up and it is now generally accepted as the past tense or past participle for sneak, thank you very much Merriam-Webster. I just wanted you to know that I'm not an uneducated moron. I'm an educated one.

Anyway, when I called to Snappy to get her off the sheets she looked up at me for a second then she squeezed her eyes shut really tight so I would think she was asleep. She looked so dang cute all curled up snoozing and she knows that we generally leave her alone when she's sleeping so she'll fake it to keep from having to move from her comfy spot. She got me thinking about our pets and their odd behaviors.

Snappy was a stray dog when she adopted us about 10 years ago. She's a mix of breeds but we're not sure which ones. We know one is definitely Rottweiler and I think the other might be some kind of husky. She has webbed toes, confinement issues, and she rarely barks, just like a husky. But she's scary smart which is NOT husky at all. As far as my landlord is concerned, she is a 4 pound toothless Chihuahua.

Taylor was about 10 years old and was out riding her bicycle in the neighborhood when Snappy followed her home...with a little coaxing I'm sure. We tried for several weeks to find her owners but no one claimed her so we took her in. Once she joined the family I told Taylor she should think of a name for the dog since she would be part of the family. Taylor said, "Her name is Snappy." I asked Taylor if that was a name that someone else gave her and she said no. I asked her why she chose that name and she said, "I didn't choose it, that's her name," as if the dog told her what her name was. That was just too creepy to argue with, Snappy sounded good to me.

It took several months for Pongo, our Dalmatian named by Taylor when she was 2, to agree to let Snappy live but he finally gave up on tying to kill her and they both begrudgingly tolerated each other. Unfortunately Pongo's alpha dog status didn't last long once Snappy discovered his Achilles heel. Dalmatians are prone to hearing problems but Pongo never lost his hearing. He did suffer from chronic ear infections for the 5 years we lived in a house with a swimming pool. He was already prone to ear infections but we couldn't keep him out of the pool which kept his ears wet all the time and made it worse. Sometimes they would get so bad that they were painful to the touch and once Snappy discovered this she used it. Oh boy did she use it. If Pongo tried to assert himself or got in her way, she'd just whack him in the ear and send him to his knees.

When you have large dogs in your backyard, you seldom have landscaping of any kind. If you are a person with big dogs and beautiful landscaping, I don't want to hear about it. But we had this lovely patio and pool and one spring morning I decided I wanted a flower bed in the backyard. I used those edging stone things to make a nice kidney shaped flowerbed up against the house where we could see it from the patio and pool area. I hauled in dirt, planted some inexpensive perennials, and put up a plastic fence barrier thing around it. I figured that would be temporary until the dogs got used to the flowerbed being there and it would give us time to teach them that if they got near it they would be assaulted by a flying flip flop. We don't beat our dogs, we just throw stuff at them which confuses them into a game of fetch so they are basically undisciplined little beasts.

This worked well and eventually I took down the plastic fence and began to do more planting and weeding in the new flowerbed. This is where I went wrong. I let the dogs, Pongo specifically, see me digging in the flowerbed. I think most dogs live their lives just trying to please their masters, even though sometimes their own impulsiveness gets in the way. This is what happened one afternoon when I was out by the pool and noticed Pongo behaving in a strange way. He would run over to me and bounce up and down in front of me (he knew not to jump on me or he'd get a flip flop in the head) then he'd run over to the flowerbed, look back at me and wag his tail so hard that his entire butt got in on the action.

It didn't take a genius to figure out that Timmy was in the well. Pongo obviously wanted me to look at the flowerbed. I did notice an unusual mound that wasn't there before, although the bed in general hadn't been completely destroyed. I obeyed my dog and went to see what he was so excited about. As soon as I walked over to the flowerbed he jumped in it and started digging at the mound. Of course I started yelling our typical dog commands. At our house we don't use commands like "NO" or "STAY" or "DOWN". We use commands such as, "HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FREAKING MIND?!" "GET OUT OF THAT FLOWERBED OR SO HELP ME I WILL KILL YOU WHERE YOU STAND!" These actually work quite well and it gives the appearance that our dogs understand spoken English. Or maybe they really do, I dunno.

Hearing the daily death threat from his master, Pongo abandoned the mound and jumped out of the flowerbed. There, buried in the dirt up to his neck was a dead rabbit. The way Pongo had positioned him and then halfway uncovered him, he looked like he had been planted there. I swear my dog thought he was contributing to the garden by planting a dead rabbit for me. All I could see was its precious little head and 2 ears sticking up. If it wasn't so comical I would have cried! Pongo was standing beside me, looking from me to the rabbit and still wagging his entire butt. He was expecting me to praise him for helping in the garden. Bless his little heart. I know he saw me digging holes and planting stuff so he thought that's what he was supposed to do. I couldn't even get mad at him for it.

I did rush into the house to grab Jayson who is the official Green Family Disposer of All Dead Bodies. The bunny crop had to go before Taylor saw it. She was about 10 or 11 at the time and the sight would have permanently scarred her worse than the scars already inflicted by her well meaning yet highly dysfunctional parents. I don't know where the bunny body went after that, I never ask The Disposer questions about his work. He makes the unpleasantness go away and that's all I care about.

Okay, except this one time when he failed to come to my rescue. But, in all fairness, the body wasn't dead yet and I am the designated Green Family Adopter of All Stray Things. But I didn't really want this stray thing since it was a 4' long bull snake. It had draped itself along the top of our fence to soak up some sun. Normally I would have just left him there since they're harmless and they eat rats. But Taylor was about 2 at the time and not much bigger than a New York City rat so I was a little concerned that he might gobble her up.

The snake had to to go and The Disposer has some kind of snake issue so it was up to Mama Bear to protect her cub. I generally don't mind snakes as long as they aren't the little slithery ones you see in the yard sometimes. Those things are gross. I prefer them to be over 6 feet long and a least as big around as my leg. I have a picture, somewhere, of me and my cousin each holding huge snakes that belonged to our uncle. If I remember right they were both pythons, one was 10' long and the other was 14'. We wrapped them around us and drove to Sonic but for some reason they wouldn't serve us. I'm not afraid of big snakes like that because if you ever run across one you'd have time to make a sandwich, pack a bag and call a taxi before it ever got to you. They're slow. On land, that is. If you're in the water with one, you're basically screwed.

I know how to kill a snake having watched my mother do it many, many times while I was growing up. If they're small, you just chop their head off with a garden hoe and toss the carcass over the back fence into the pasture. If they're big you shoot them, several times, with your pink pearl handled pistol then use the garden hoe to toss the body over the back fence. I have several problems with this. One is that I am not capable of killing an animal unless it is trying to kill me or someone I love. The snake wasn't trying to hurt us, it was just sunbathing. I couldn't hurt it. Besides, it qualified as a larger snake and I don't have a pink pearl handled pistol like Mom does and there's no back 40 to toss the body into.

I don't mind handling snakes if they're someone's pet but I'm not stupid enough to just grab any random slithering thing. I came up with a plan that I though was brilliant but soon found out was extremely stupid and impossible. My big plan was to use a broom handle to scoop the snake up off the fence, then I would twirl him around the handle like a strand of spaghetti and place him in my mop bucket where I could safely tote him to...somewhere I hadn't thought about yet. I also hadn't thought about the snake not being willing to wrap itself around my broom handle or the fact that it could just slither right on out of that mop bucket if I ever actually got him in there. Which I did not.

I placed the broom handle under the middle of the snake and lifted him up. Much to my surprise, he just slithered right off the end of that handle, went into the backyard and, to my horror, slid into a gap that was between the vinyl siding and the brick on our house. I knew he wasn't actually "in" the house but the fact that he was hiding my house's covering sort of freaked me out for a couple of days.

It took that long for the snake to come out of hiding and when he did he met up with Pongo who used him a chew toy. I found chunks of snake strewn all over the yard at which point The Disposer stepped up to the plate and did his job. Again, I have no idea where the body went and I don't care. I just know that I never want to see that again. Yucky poo.

I have more animal adventures but I'll have to save them for another post. There's the time that Pongo got out of the yard, ran down the street to a neighbor's house, grabbed their 19 year old cat off their porch, shook him till he was dead then proudly deposited him on our porch as he sat wagging his tail, waiting for praise. The cops showed up for that one. Then there's the time I hit a dog on a busy street, there was no way to avoid him. That tore me up for weeks. Oh, and the time when we got home and I heard a noise in Taylor's closet and when I went to investigate, there was a wild squirrel (as opposed to our pet squirrel) sitting on her shelf looking as surprised to see me as I was to see him. For over an hour Taylor and I sat outside her bedroom door laughing hysterically at Jayson and the animal control guy trying to capture the squirrel. All we heard was CRASH, *curse word*, BANG, THUD, *curse word*, *curse word*, CRASH, THUD... It was entertaining. There's never a dull moment with Gang Green.

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