Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blame Oprah.

I was going to do it. The logical progression of stories goes Hubby, Dog, Toddler. I was going to write about the toddler, and only the toddler.

Then I caught Oprah at the Y. First time I've been in months. First time I've seen Oprah in many months. And she's doing A Very Important Show on child sex abuse.

I can't do it. I'm too paranoid at heart - deeply, deeply paranoid in that OCD kind of way - to put the toddler out here. So he's going to stay a background character in this crazy little story called my life. And I'm going to tell some more Dog stories. Blame Oprah if you thought you were getting Toddler stories today. Sorry.

But Hey! Look on the bright side. Jake's story went over really well. People LOVED reading about the wonder wiener. So welcome, new readers! Keep passing this on to your friends!

The Continuing Adventures of Jake the Three-Legged Wonder Wiener!

Now, as you might have gathered, Jake isn't too terribly bright - that's how he lost his leg in the first place, I reckon. But he has moments of Dog Brilliance that are astounding.

You might think that a dog who is physically incapable of seeing a bunny ten feet from him is just not that into predation, but every now and then, Jake surprises me. The first time his Inner Dog came out was on a trip to Petco up in Chicago. I was rummaging around the sale bins (of course I was!) and Jake was distracted by something under the aisle shelf. I just figured he'd sniffed out a treat and was trying to get to it (thereby proving that there are some things that are too low for a wiener dog to get under).

So I go to leave, and I'm having to drag that dog away from his aisle. We get to the end cap, and Jake brakes left, then right, and before I can rein him in, darts so hard that he's almost half wedged under the end cap. Now, I'm snapping at him while I'm trying to reel him back in on his retractable leash, and finally I get him and his wiggly little butt out from the shelving.

He spins around, his tail going at top speed and his ears perked.

"Jake!" I quietly yell. "What are you . . . what is that?"

That would be something about 3 inches long, white and thin, hanging out of his mouth.

"What the? Jake, drop it!" Oh, the look of pitifulness on that dog's face. He didn't drop it.

"DROP IT, Jake!"

Now, even the dog knows that I Am The Momma, and that tone of voice is not to be taken lightly, so begrudgingly, he drops it.

It's a little white mouse. A dead little white mouse.

Now, I didn't scream, but I did come close as Jake starts dancing around. You could almost hear him saying, "Didja see? Didja see what I caught? Huh? Huh? Huh???" while I'm turning shades of green.

So I go up to the nearest cashier and say, "Cleanup on aisle seven."

The cashier - some bored, underpaid high schooler, no doubt - goes, "Pee?"

"No. Dead mouse. My dog just killed . . . it." By the time I finish the sentence, he and two other worker-types are back by the dead mouse, examining the clean kill and debating which mouse tank the recently deceased had come from. And they're touching it!

Maybe it's a guy thing. The cashier came back up, rubbed Jake's ears, and gave him a treat. Jake was on wiener dog cloud 9 for days after that, and anytime we go into a Pet/co/Smart megastore, he vigorously checks all aisles for vermin. Maybe not quite as dumb as he looks.

That was five years ago. When we moved to our nice, old house in this nice, small town, Jake got to break out his vermin eradication skills again. Every fall, we get rats in the basement. (Hey, this house is 115+ years old. Breaches are inevitable.) He's alerted us when something is rustling back behind the cabinets or in the crawl space we refer to as "Rat Club Med" and once chased rats out of the living room and the kitchen, but he'd never gotten close.

Until this summer. We excavated some bushes under the kitchen window, where the hubby had long suspected that the mortar in the foundation had been eroded, and he filled them in (love that spray foam stuff - however temporary it may be). And one afternoon, I let Jake out.

Instantly he was on wiener dog high alert. Tail stiff, moving in tight little circles, hackles up, ears cocked for movement.

"Go get it!" I urged, not sure what it was.

The answer was a rat, half hidden under a tarp. Jake pounced with as much wiener dog fury as he could muster on his three little legs. The rat headed in my direction, apparently trying to get down an old sewer pipe.

This time, I did scream. But I also grabbed a hoe that was luckily right there, and I came up swinging.

Now, I'm not sure if I stabbed it or just got its body between the tines, but the rat decided that he'd rather take his chance with the dog.

Bad call.

Jake darted left, then right, and then dove under the tarp.

Man, I hate the sound of rats screaming, don't you?

Jake came out with rat in mouth and began to shake. Now, all you wiener dog lovers out there, you know what I'm talking about. These, after all, are dogs designed to hunt and kill - badgers, primarily, and anything smaller. And they do that with amazing jaw strength and neck muscles that don't give up. Wiener dogs shake so hard, so fast, that they snap necks and backs in seconds. Watch one play sometime. You should see Jake 'kill' his blanket. And remember that cute scooby doo picture?

Let's just say scooby met an unpleasant end, because Jake was the head Dog in that house.

Seconds were all it took for the rat. It took me four times as long to pry the dog away from his trophy as it did to capture and kill the danged thing. Because I sure as hell wasn't touching it. I leave that to the Man of the House, God bless him.

But Jake hasn't forgotten his latest victory. Every time he goes out now, he does a quick perimeter check, because the ground squirrels (or chipmunks, for those of you not from these parts) are getting cocky.

He's tangled with a squirrel or two, and my in-laws and I do not speak of the time he broke the leg of their favorite kitten. (That was life four for that kitten. Sadly, she did eventually use up all nine of them, but at least Jake wasn't the final blow.) So, although he spends most of his time snoozing on laps and couches or ignoring bunnies, it's important to remember that he's still a dog.

Because he'll never forget.

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