Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Conflicted

   I'm sure I won't gather much sympathy for dearly departed "vermin," but nonetheless, it was a sad morning. It started at 5 am, when I was awakened from a sound sleep by highly-urgent shrieks from Aki. (She usually awakens me at 6 am with semi-urgent-shrieking... and occasionally biting at my limbs, if I'm sleeping too close to the edge of the bed. Breakfast IS the most important meal of the day, after all!) 
   My first thought was that she desperately needed to relieve herself, and that I'd have a mess to clean up if I didn't jet downstairs, and that's all the convincing I needed. I swear that one of these days I'll invent the alarm clock with pet vomiting noises, and I shall be rich. But I digress...
   I flew down three flights of stairs as if my rugs depended on it, let the dogs out, and rolled my eyes to see them chasing the white flash of a rabbit tail, which instantaneously disappeared under the fence. "Thanks for waking me up for that, guys!" I thought as I sleepily trudged back upstairs, falling into a sleepy coma. 
   Thirty minutes later I awoke to Taylor barking his fool head off. Was I dreaming? It was muffled, so I wasn't sure which reality I was in. He continued. I pushed up on my arms, listening closer. "Dammit. It's real." I looked at the click and wondered why god hates me. "5:30?! The neighbors will kill me!" I ran downstairs with the intent to kick some canine a**.
  The warning barks were warranted: Aki was standing guard over something, and I ran into the yard in bare feet and barely dressed to see what she had. I grabbed her collar and pulled her away forcefully; a 25 lb dog guarding prey is impossibly strong! Aki beamed with pride over the seemingly-lifeless body of a possum.
   I inspected him, and watched to see if his chest would rise ever so slightly. Our last possum incident taught me two ways to discern the actors from the expired. One was almost imperceptible breathing. The other is the presence of flies. I saw neither.
   I stood there holding Aki back, both of us staring intently, and watching for signs. I prayed he was faking. She prayed she had killed him. Minutes passed in our silent contest. I petted his soft head and felt his papery-thin ear. It felt to me like it was growing cold.
   When I saw the first fly land I knew who had won: the killer had vanquished her prey and her sympathetic owner in one fell swoop.
   I went to get my gloves, and lifted the poor creature as high as I could. The Shibas leapt into the air with crocodile smiles and snapped as if it were a possum piñata. I tried to control my sympathy for the creature and anger at my dogs for killing him, constantly reminding myself that this is what they are bred for, and a huge source of pride for them. A job well done. A job which left me horrified.
   We all came back in the house, but the stench of death came too. it was then I realized that both dogs must have rolled on their quarry before I got out there. Ugh.
   So I had to send a humiliating email to one of my coworkers: "I will be late to our 9:00 meeting. I got up early to finish packing for our trip to Portland; we leave straight from work this afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn't factor time for my dogs killing a possum. They are covered in blood and smell like possum funk, so I have to give them baths before I leave town." (Here's the funny thing: when I got to work, my coworker was in a crabby mood. I think he thinks I was lying!)
* * * * *
   This week I/Dad found one mouse dead in a trap and another just steps away; I saw Aki pounce on and kill a third mouse; and I saw her pounce on and kill a baby bird; and now this. I'm at once in awe of my girl's abilities, and disgusted by the outcome. I write about this far too often.
   My Aki is a sweet, sensitive, intelligent and perceptive creature; and also a proud and efficient murderer. It's hard to believe such a large contrast exists. I hate what she does as much as I love her. And I hate when wildlife enters my property, as much as I dearly love to see them.