Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Otis' Wildlife Adventure

You know how they say that dogs look like their owners? Well, this is what my neighbor looks like: He’s a big guy with broad shoulders, not the type you’d be unhappy to find on your side. But he’s also a professional guy, with a very friendly demeanor and perpetual smile. He may have been an ass kicker in High School, but only by virtue of his imposing size and a propensity for laughs. If he was, there’s virtually no sign of that now.

Otis does not appear to be as genteel a package. Adopted from the city shelter, this dog spent most of his life as an unofficial resident at the University’s equestrian complex. Oddly enough, he shares many features common to the breed which serves as the school’s mascot. With an adopted dog like that, one never really knows its complete history, but when you look at Otis you can speculate that there was a particular event which led from happy existence in bucolic horse setting to bars in the city pound. Needless to say, after five weeks Otis and Tim are still getting to know each other.

Here’s a little illustration of Otis’ delicate sensibilities: I like dogs, so anyone who comes over to my place with one gets the run of the place. Tim and his sidekick come over one night to watch a DVD, and as usual the dog has to sniff out the place. But with Otis there’s not just the occasional tipping over of things and dog toe-nails on hardwood. It sounds more like furniture in an enormous clothes dryer. In the middle of "Really Big Fish" we hear something that sounds like a water main break, and it turns out to be Otis practically sucking my plumbing inside-out getting a drink of water from the toilet.

About a week ago my friend and I are sitting on the stoop and along comes Tim and Otis, and they seem to be making a bee-line for the house. Very curious. We say hello and get an enthusiastic response, exchange a tidbit of neighborhood gossip, and then we hear him say "you’ve gotta hear what just happened". This is the part of the story where my friend and I almost sprain our diaphragms laughing.

Tim goes on to say: "So we’re walking past a bunch of kids on our way to the park and one of them says "mister, your dog looks mean, is it ok if I pet him", and a minute later they’re all cooing over him and pulling his tail and that sort of thing. As we leave I wave goodbye and begin to pass a row of houses with brick stairways and sidewalls enclosing them. Just out the most extreme portion of my peripheral vision I see a squirrel sitting in one of these blind entranceways on the first step. Well, apparently Otis saw the same thing. He just casually turns his head and CHWOOOMP, he’s got pretty much the whole squirrel in his mouth. You can see its legs frantically pumping as if trying to hop out of the situation. Then Otis changes his grip and starts yanking it from side to side, tail slashing through the air in a blur of fur. Blood is spattering all over the sidewalk and a demonic groan is coming from the pink foam around Otis’ mouth. Things have gone well beyond a P.G. rating. While Otis is going at it I’m hauling on the leash, but blind instinct is apparently pulling harder. Finally he gets the message, lets go and gives me a look like ‘sorry, but you know how it is’ type of thing.

So that’s pretty much the end of my walk. I turn to pass the kids, and they’re standing there agog, eyes wide as saucers. You could tell that if a twig snapped they would all break out screaming at the top of their lungs".

Tales of animal suffering make my heart pang, but we just lost it when we heard this story of natural predation.

Poor Tim had a countenance like the neighborhood was on his heels with torch and pitchfork. And all he ever did was try to help a poor City Pound dog have a better life.


evilsciencechick said...

That is hysterical! Sad for the squirrel, of course, but still hysterical. My dog, Sadie, (also a pound rescue) loves to chase squirrels, but has never even come close to catching one. Once she cought a mouse during an evening walk, but was so excited she wasn't sure what to do with it. She dropped it on the sidewalk, still twitching, before I even knew what was happening. She just gave me a look that said "look what I did, mommy! Praise me!" It was left to my brother to...finish off the poor creature to end it's suffering, as Sadie, content with her mastery of all things rodent, and I continued on our walk.

Jack said...

You're one hell of a writer. For a tree huggin' hippy. Thanks for visiting my site. I'll be back to this one.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm Liz! I just read this and it's kind of sad for the rodnet, but funny. ^_^

todd vodka said...

To be honest, there are parts of this story which make me wretch, parts which I have left out. The levity of our reactions tortured me, stunned my senses, meat-hooked my dreams back to details. I want to share other thoughts, not these, with people kind enough to stop by my blog.


Yoli said...

That was hilarious...but sorry for the squiril I hope it didn't feel so much pain after being chewed...oops...anyhow..LOL

barrie said...

Todd, I'm getting bored again ;p

Seriously, it is good to know that you didn't rejoice too much over the squirrel's demise. I have a jack russell who has been on a bird murdering rampage this spring. On the one hand I am always blown away by her speed, stealth and athleticism in catching them but it bums me out that she does it.

Just try to accept it as one of those frog and scorpion things.

Vadergrrrl said...

Hi Todd. Did you hug a tree today? I love your rants, but I have one question for ya.
Docs or Birkenstocks?

barrie said...

VDG: why can't it be both?

Inanna said...

My cat caught a baby rabbit and was playing with it one day. Luckily I was able to intervene in a timely manner as he only had it by the scruff. Great story though and love the Letters to the Editor!

ShiRz said...

Love your writing. :-)

Jack said...

Four days and no new Todd Vodka. I'm a sad little cowboy.

Crayon said...

Poor Otis, and that can be so traumatising for the kids, haha. Well written, very interesting stories, I'd love to hear more stories about the town your in - apparently you are new there, right?? Lets have some more!! I want to hear about the places where people hang out, what are they like? What are the other townspeople like?? Love it!

Mark said...

I don't have much to add. I did see a dog chase a little bunny untill it died of something like a heart attack though. It was weird. We caught the dog before the dog caught it, but apparently we weren't in time to save the rabbit. It's chest was really thumping for a while and then it just died. There was nothing that we could do... Also, the squirrels in Savannah, GA are weird. THey're black and their tails aren't fluffy.


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