Saturday, January 24, 2009

Possum in a Bucket -- jcarolek

Last night we went out into the garage to take a look at the wiring of the satellite. We'd been working inside all evening and I'd heard no odd sounds coming from the garage, but almost as soon as we stepped out there, I noticed my dog was trying to squeeze herself through the lower shelf of the shoe rack and under the three-step stair leading from the kitchen into the garage. The cats were watching with cautious interest, not venturing near Killian nor the steps.

Realizing there was clearly something of interest under those steps, we got the flashlight and tried to see... sure enough, reflecting the flashlight's beam back were those eyes... the distinctive eyes of the opossum. It was not the largest, but certainly not the smallest of these critters that has made its way onto my property, only to be rudely "escorted off" by Killian. But usually these guys stay outside. Finding its way into the garage and under the steps seemed pretty brazen to me, considering three animals live in that garage.

Nevertheless, Killian was making herself into a pretzel trying to get to the critter and I decided to try to help the confused animal out by opening a "get away" route. I moved the shoe rack out of the way and cleared the dog kennel and such from directly beside the stairs. Of course, this also allowed Killian immediate access to get under those steps.

And so it was that for the next 15 minutes we were deafened by the high-pitched, excited yelp of the 24 lb. Killian, answered by the lower but evil sounding growl of the opossum, as they vied for dominance under the steps. It seemed a rather slam-dunk deal to me.. Killian would drag the critter out and would, no doubt, eventually kill it. I have seen her take on many an opossum and just know this is the reality of the situation. But this time it was a little different. The opossum had managed to wedge itself just out of the dog's reach under the very front step. So, the battle dragged on and I had visions of having to dismantle steps to rid the garage of an animal who would rather die of starvation than risk death by trying to escape.

After the amusement factor began to wear thin, I decided to try to roust the little intruder out of hiding by banging on the front of the step. Well, this did not work and the din continued. Then I grabbed a metal pole and started poking blindly under the step, unable to see whether I was getting close to the opossum. Curiously, this seemed to send the critter into the "play dead" mode, and the growling stopped. Once Killian realized the opossum was no longer "talking back," she quit yelping, and our ears enjoyed a well-needed rest. But we were also concerned that there seemed no movement under the steps.

Not to worry. After catching her breath for a few short moments, Killian took another stab at her would-be garage mate, and within a couple of seconds, presented us with a dead-looking animal. She looked to us for approval and then went to get a long drink of water, leaving the now motionless, rank-smelling thing for us to deal with. Not really clear on the best move, we decided to presume the thing was still very much alive and just "playing dead." I grabbed an available bucket and in less than a minute we had it scooped up into the bucket and the lid secured so it could not jump out.

Well, NOW the cats decided it was safe to come around and inspect our work. Killian finished her drink and came back to see how we'd fared with the vermin she'd left in our custody..... and WE took pictures. Now, I have to say, as wild critters go, the opossum is NOT the most beautiful. Nor is he very cuddly in appearance. In fact, even as he lay, seemingly dead, on the garage floor, he still had his vicious teeth prominently displayed... just in case. Now in the bucket, the confused, long-nosed thing was looking out at us... not bearing his teeth, but not smiling either...

We discussed the options for our catch and ruled out "Sunday dinner" immediately. We could either let it go outside with Killian loose or close Killian in the garage and let the opossum go outside, giving it a fighting chance to live another day. We opted for the latter and off into the woods the bucket containing its odd cargo was carried. When the bucket was laid on its side and the lid pulled off, the opossum recognized his chance and took off like a streak, through the woods and to somewhere far away from those garage steps.

And I set about cleaning up the garage again, putting things back where they belonged. And Killian, exhausted and victorious, accepted her treat before taking her leave, heading into her doggie tent doubt dreaming of more critters to chase. And the cats, who had done absolutely NOTHING productive during this whole exciting episode, well, they still whined for THEIR treats... and rather than go through lengthy explanations with non-comprehending felines about why they were not deserving, we just gave in and treated them too.....

With the garage door closed and the pets secured in their nighttime home, we turned out the lights and headed in. We never finished what we'd set out to do with the satellite in the first place, but we had a little excitement, nonetheless. Living in the woods is just one fun event after another!

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