Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The joys of country living...

Jasper invented a new sport last night. I’ve dubbed it, “Possum Skiing”. Perhaps, a little background information would be helpful. We’re nestled in the middle of about five acres of woods out in the middle of nowhere. The back of our house has a covered deck with about a two-foot crawl space running underneath it.

Jasper is a rat terrier/chihuahua mix with the heart and soul of a rottweiler. He guards his territory and our cats against any beast daring to challenge his clearly marked trees. Fiona is our outside cat that adopted us. We can’t allow her inside with Niko (he’s so old, he just couldn’t adapt). Therefore, her nice warm bed and food are outside on the covered deck. You guessed it. Dry cat food is a delicacy to every possum and raccoon in the surrounding three counties.

During the week, I go to bed early because the day job alarm goes off at 4 a.m. Usually, I’m intelligent enough to look out the window BEFORE opening the door to ensure the deck is varmint-free before releasing the hound for his last pee break before we retire for the evening. Not last night.

A possum doesn’t move very fast UNTIL it has a dog attached to its tail. Then it’s surprising how fast it can drag a nine-pound dog across a treated lumber deck with his legs in the locked position.

They traveled over the length of the deck and over the edge, with me bellowing behind them. I will give Jasper a nine for the dismount because although he did lose his grip on the possum’s tail, the possum rolled twice and Jasper landed on all fours. Then they disappeared under the deck with Jasper barking, the possum hissing and me yelling for Jasper to leave the possum alone.

While catching my breath between shouting at the dog, I glanced at Fiona who hadn’t bothered to move out of her bed. She flicked an ear at me and yawned as if to say, “Ditch the dog. I’ll go in the house with you and we can go to bed.”

I finally decided if I got the flashlight and glared at Jasper face to face perhaps I could convince him to leave the possum alone. So, I trudged into the house, located the elusive flashlight and went back out into the frigid night air with my gown tail flapping in the wind. My fury kept my top half plenty warm but the north wind was frosting my butt.

I got down on all fours, shot the beam under the deck and snapped, “JASPER, I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!”

Now, I’m no math whiz, but even I knew when I looked under that deck, I should’ve seen two sets of little glowing eyes reflected in that light. But all I saw staring back at me was one set of eyes and the only response I got was a very irritated hiss.

I knew Jasper had stopped barking. I figured the little rascal was just catching his breath. I shined the flashlight underneath the deck. The scamp had disappeared.

I started to panic. I was also freezing. I needed a heavier coat. He never strayed but I couldn’t leave him outside. I’d just run inside, get a heavier coat, and come back out and find him.

As I walked through the door to grab my coat, a movement on the couch caught my eye. Jasper curled up on his blanket munching on one of his milk bones. I hadn’t seen him when he’d slipped in through the partially opened door when I’d come in to retrieve the flashlight. Apparently, possum skiing works up quite an appetite and Jasper knows when to come in out of the cold. I just have to have enough sense to trust him.