Friday, March 18, 2011

A Pack Of Lives

            The rules here are quite simple; I begin, end, and win, all fights. If there are two or three mutts who want to slug it out for pack position I am there at the end to remind them the top spot is not only not up for grabs, it will on occasion reach down and create a little more distance between the first and all other places to be had. If you want to get all bloody and bitten fighting for second, third, or last place, far be in onto me to wade in and stop it. I will, at the end of all conflict, reassure everyone, ever else has been established, first place will be where it is until the stores that sell dog food no longer take the card. I am not in the least bit interested in having the better part of three hundred pounds of tame wolf lying around wonder who’s on first.

            I am.

            Any questions?

            Lucas has caught onto this in ways that the first two dogs missed out on for some reason. Lucas has taken up pack position as Enforcer.  Because Dad said so, what part of that did you miss, dammit? Early, and I mean early, this morning, just after four in the morning, all three dogs wanted out, now please. I wasn’t sleeping well anyway, and decided to toss them out until five or so. Two minutes past this point, all hell broke loose, and I can only assume the raccoon in the backyard was the reason. Maybe it wasn’t the raccoon. Maybe it was the recent fall in the stock market, or the fact that after years of telling people nuclear energy was the only way, there might very well appear in the backyard a glowing mass from some other country where this sort of thing was never supposed to happen, but guess what? Maybe it was the fact that if I get more than three or four hours of interrupted sleep I become normal and boring and the dogs all realize this means I’ll never be a writer. Personally, my money is on the raccoon, which failing to understand that the scent of three very large dogs means they live here, decided to raid the backyard where there is no raccoon food, whatever else the signs may say.
            I do not understand this. There is nothing in the backyard that is edible, or at least not so much that any small mammal would be better off inside the fence than outside the fence. The fence has two charged wires, one up and the other down below, so the dogs are not leaving the fenced in area and ha ha, if you’re in there with them, you aren’t either. But really, why sneak into a place where anyone with half a nose has got to know there are three dogs? Were I a small mammal, I would take into account that given three dogs means they could be as big as a Dane or as small as a terrier, the odds are whatever three you get, it isn’t going to be likable. Let’s say you get two tea cup poodles, suitable for a snack, but the third is a Chow. Even if you get two out of three best case, and the third is only partially bad, you are still screwed. No, really, the Chow, one on one with a raccoon, is going to win this one, take the country by storm!
The raccoon, given the better part of a few hundred trees in the back yard to climb, chose a very small one right next to the deck. So short is this tree, that the upper limbs bend. Three large dogs willing to go into the stratosphere after prey, were trying to do just that when I arrived, with a weak flashlight and a twelve gauge, double barrel shotgun, suitable for killing.
            Let’s review the escape strategy, for just a moment, shall we? I mean, you aren’t going anywhere, are you?
            Generally speaking, a human being carrying a gun is bad for raccoons. Four in the morning is not the time for interspecies communing. Almost nearly always, being within a few feet of where the better part of three hundred pounds of tame wolf sleeps is a terrible thing for a small mammal who weighs less than some pillows the dogs sleep on. Being in a tree whose branches are only keeping Death away for a few more moments, isn’t something evolution rewards. So! In review, the escape strategy is made entirely of the fail, epically speaking.  The raccoon made Raccoon War Sounds at me as I discovered it in its made for fail escape niche.
            The dogs know what a gun is. They do not get around the front of a gun for any reason but the War Sounds of the Raccoon were more than enough for them to intervene on my behalf. Except Bert;  Bert has seen the gun in action and he’s getting too old to move quickly. He lets the young dogs hound the Raccoon. Bert sits this one out and heads away from the noise, and the gun.
Lucas looks at me. Looks at Sam. Looks at the Raccoon, and gets back into the action.

“Lucas! Sit!”

Lucas sits. He looks at me. We’ve been training on this for a while now, and he realizes this is why. Sam hasn’t flinched. Sam hasn’t wavered. Sam is still going after the raccoon. Sam is nothing if not good at what Sam does. I cannot approach Sam and the Raccoon while carrying a gun. This has interesting internet story written all over it.

But Sam doesn’t have a chance to move. Lucas rams him, crashes into him, and pins him against the deck rails, and pushed him away from the raccoon. The two fight it out, but this time, it is Sam, not Lucas who gives ground. “Because dad said so!” Lucas tells Sam, and Sam retreats. Sam is snarling, growling, horripilated, and pissed, but Lucas knows what I want, and he is going to put the rebellious Sam down, by force. Bert comes back onto the deck, and positions himself  behind all the action.
“Inside!” I say and Bert heads for the door. Sam looks at the raccoon, but Lucas is there, pushing him back. Sam tries to fight back but I’m between him and prey, and if he doesn’t do something about the Loki Mutt, he’s going to get pushed over on his back. Sam snarls and tries to push back but Lucas is faster, larger, stronger, and he’s got his orders, from the top. Lucas doesn’t give any ground, but he doesn’t outright attack Sam either. Push! Push! Push! Sam folds.
We all sleep, and I hope by the time the clock goes off the raccoon is gone. It’s too warm for a dog on the bed, but Lucas sleeps at my side while the other two are on the floor. Lucas and Sam are not happy campers with each other, but it is Lucas who holds the high ground.  Today the pack shifted, and the top spot stayed the same.

Take Care,

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