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(Slightly Off Topic) Why I Didn’t Work Out This Morning

by John on January 26th, 2011

I know, in my last post, that I went out of my way to say “no more excuses.” Well, I have an excuse, and I think you’ll forgive me this time.

The big news as Tuesday turned into Wednesday was snow. We were pretty sure we were getting something, but no idea how much. It was possible that we’d get a rainy/snowy mix that wouldn’t amount to anything. It was possible that we’d get 16+ inches of the white stuff. I love those types of winter storms. I actually think the grocery stores are in cahoots with the weathermen to ensure that storm predictions make people crazy.

Anyway, snow. I woke up at 4:30 (because I’m a masochist) to walk the dogs, and it was obvious that there had been some form of wet precipitation the night before. While it was flurrying, there really wasn’t anything to talk about.

However, as we walked, the snow started hitting us harder, and I noticed that I was slipping slight amounts. “Better safe than sorry,” I thought as I cut the dogs’ walk short & decided to not head out to run (but, instead, to spin).

After getting inside, I feed the dogs & Hobbes (the elder, cairn terrier) asks to go outside. Since I cut the walk short, I didn’t think twice about letting him out, and of course Snickelfritz (the younger, border terrier) runs out after him. Seconds after they hit the yard, there was a very violent series of barking, and then nothing.

I walk outside to try to see what they’ve gotten into, and neither will come to me. Eventually, Hobbes comes by, poops, and I’m able to convince him to head through the door. But Snickelfritz stays under the porch. I can see him, I tempt him with a puppy treat, but nothing. I should note that he’s all of the way under the porch and there’s no way that I can easily go to retrieve him. I walk around to the other side of the porch, to better see what’s going on, but it’s too dark, and he simply won’t come.

So, I walk back into the house, keeping Hobbes at bay (because he desperately wants to go outside again) to get a flash-light. With a flashlight, I walk all of the way around the porch (I need to head out to the steps, then all of the way around in order to get to this area, I’d draw a map, but my artistic skills suck) to see Snickelfritz coming out from under the deck. Dragging a possum corpse.

There are a plethora of emotions that run through your mind when you see a large, dead rodent. Complex, primal emotions: fight, flight, protect, flee, rescue, murder…they’re all there. My first thought was “dear god, the fight lasted for seconds, if that, and this thing is larger than Snickelfritz…if the dogs killed it, it was diseased.” Then, “what if it got a good bite in beforehand and Hobbes is currently trailing blood throughout the house?” Then, “how the fuck am I going to get rid of this thing?”

My most immediate concern was for my dogs. Hobbes walked into the house without aid, seemingly uninjured. Sure, there might be something wrong, but it’s nothing to worry about right at that moment. Snickelfritz, though, well, he was dragging a rodent by the scruff of its neck, so of course he’d be moving funny. And now, here I am, near hysterical with fear. I’m sure there was a “oh, hi dad, aren’t you proud of me?”-level emotion running through his head that immediately got confused. This dog knows my emotions better than I know them, myself. He looked up at me and immediately dropped the possum. In a firm voice, I said “drop it, leave it,” and directed him into the house. Fortunately, I was able to convince him to go without actually forcing him to move, and I could see that he wasn’t actually walking funny.

So, I round both dogs into the kitchen (because, in the family room, there are kids toys and stuff, and I didn’t know if I’d be treating wounds), put up the gates, and check them out. Neither dog appears to be injured in the least. Hobbes, honestly, appears no different. There’s the smallest amount of blood on Snick’s muzzle, but that’s it. My brain goes back to the “diseased” route.

Then I remember that I’m dealing with a possum…maybe it’s, well, simply “playing possum.” I head back upstairs to check with Duffy whether or not I have the right animal (it’s not yet 5:00 in the morning, I haven’t had any coffee, and therefore I have no idea if I’m capable of thinking straight) and then inform her of what happened, and that I was going to take the animal to the compost pile.

My thoughts here were twofold. First, make sure that Duffy knows what’s going on, just in case the dogs start acting crazy, but don’t tell her that our dogs just killed a diseased possum in our yard, because that was going to require significant cleanup and vet trips and a lot of stuff that’s better thought of when a situation is fully evaluated. Next, give the possum time to move on it’s own if it was faking, and leave it in the compost pile if we need to do tests for rabies

So, I grab a snow shovel and head back outside. The possum has not moved one iota. “Shit,” I whisper under my breath and start to scoop it into the shovel. I manage to get it into the air and then work my way to the compost pile. As soon as I put the rodent down, it stands up, looks at me as if to say “thanks for the lift,” and then walks away. No limp. No scurry. Walks, like it’s a cat. I follow it for a little while, flabbergasted, until it looks back and hisses, and then I let it be. Damn possum played possum.

I head back inside, check the dogs for injuries one last time, put ice cubes in the water bowl to force Snickelfritz to drink water (he can’t see an ice cube and not drink it) washing the blood from his muzzle, head back upstairs to give Duffy the update, and then head back down to spin.

Only, well, by the time I get on the spinning bike, my legs aren’t quite working right. Yuck.

Anyway, that was my ordeal this morning . . . I’ll eat right all day & might even try the bike again tonight. Or, just wait until tomorrow and walk the dogs & see what happens from there.

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3 Comments
  1. Laura permalink

    That's a great story!! I've read that possums are very benign creatures and rarely carry diseases, they are almost never rabid. It has to do with the temperature of their blood or something. I'm sure your puppies are going to be fine!

  2. We had a something [maybe a possum, maybe a raccoon, maybe a werewolf] living under our deck one summer.

    I am no fan of the outdoors, and outdoor creatures creep me out to no end.

    That possum waddle? GAH. Like they're superior and sassy.

  3. Ha! My husband and his broom, you and your shovel. I’m glad it wasn’t diseased, and hope it never came back. Dogs go CRAZY for them, don’t they?!?

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