Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me about seventeen times? Why, you must be a possum playing dead!
A good survival strategy for you, the possum. Not so great for me if I think you’re dead, and, wanting to keep you from Shadow, bag you up and put you in the garage.
Our little saga, as so many that involve Shadow do, began on our daily walk. The roar from gale force winds made me choose the large fields north of our house where Shadow could run off-leash without the danger of a car coming up behind us unheard. Doing what he does best—finding carrion is his superpower—Shadow dashed ahead only to return a short time later with a possum in his mouth.
“Drop it,” I commanded. We’ve worked on this a lot. He dropped it. And, on the command “leave it”, he happily left it as we continued through the field to a larger one behind it.
I wasn’t fooled. I’ve seen him feign complete disinterest in what he’s been commanded to leave, only to sneak back later and retrieve it. In his mind, “drop it” and “leave it” are only relevant if I happen to be watching. So, when we reached the far end of the other field and started for home, I wondered what to do about the possum.
Shadow must have wondered also, because he took off, disappearing over the slight rise of the field, and by the time I got to where the possum had been dropped, there was no sign of either possum or labradoodle. Cursing myself for not putting Shadow on leash sooner, I called him. And called him. No response. (Yeah, we need a LOT of work on Shadow’s recall response, which tends to be highly situational.)
Convinced he was hiding with his treasure so he couldn’t be commanded to abandon it, I reluctantly returned home to tell the spouse we probably wouldn’t see Shadow for some time.
But I was wrong. Even as I said it, Shadow barked outside. Oh, what a proud boy, standing there holding his possum!
Of course, I broke his heart by making him drop it. Then armed with plastic-bag mittens over my hands, I scooped the possum’s limp, lifeless form into another grocery bag. Shadow, watched from a sit-stay, clearly unhappy.
“I put the dead possum in the garage,” I announced to my spouse. “So Shadow won’t keep mouthing it.”
A couple of hours later, I had a sudden, disturbing thought. Many a possum mouthed by Shadow, sometimes for hours, lived to run away as soon as Shadow was removed from its vicinity. What if—?
I rushed to the garage, where, with sinking heart, I saw the now empty plastic bag. And heard scritching sounds.
Fortunately, Shadow can’t talk or he might have said “I told you so,” when we brought him in to search for the possum in the garage. Unfortunately, his nose told him the possum was hiding somewhere within the approximately 1700 boxes my spouse stores there.
(Yes, the spouse needs an intervention for storage-container addiction.) We gave up the search, left the garage door open and hoped for the best.
Several hours later, I took Shadow, on leash, back to the garage. He started following a scent that led outside. Encouraged, I let him drag me on a zig-zag trail through the yard, until he lunged forward and stood on his back legs, nose against a tree trunk.
And there, clinging to the trunk a few feet higher, was a possum. I sincerely hope it was the possum. At least the scritching sounds have stopped and Shadow is no longer interested in the scents in the garage. A happy ending for all.**
For more happy endings and a chance to meet Shadow’s cheeky fictional counterpart Doodle, rush over to get the Doodlebugged mysteries. For a limited time, Bed-Bugged, the first of the series is only $0.99 and the other two books are also on sale.
BED-BUGGED: “. . . delightful, briskly paced, with appealing characters, especially Doodle. Kroupa’s knowledge of, and love for, dogs shines through every scene.” –Sherwood Smith, Goodreads Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ Kobo ◊ iTunes
OUT-SNIFFED: “. .warmhearted and funny but never superficial. . . I haven’t met a fictional character in a long time that I enjoyed melding my mind with as much as Doodle.“—Mary Jo Rabe, Amazon.com
DOG-NABBED: “. . . the perfect blend of mystery, suspense, and laugh-out-loud doggy observations. Completely delightful from beginning to end.” –Virginia Smith, best-selling author of the Falsely Accused Series. Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ Kobo ◊ iTunes
**Note: No animals were harmed in the events described here, but this human’s self-esteem suffered a severe blow.