I live in a split-level development on a half-acre of land in suburban Philadelphia. While I may not have to worry about bears or lions showing up to devour my family, I do at times have my own version of Wild Kingdom going on in my backyard.
Recently, I had to do phone interview with a company CEO for an article I was writing. With my office being in my home, I try to make sure my dogs cannot be heard by another party when I am on the phone. When the weather is good, “the girls” play in the yard or sit in the shade and just enjoy their near Utopian existence so I can work in peace. I do check on them periodically. While my dogs love their yard, on occasion they have been known to dig tunnels under the fence and make a break for it. Well, it’s my big dog, Frankie, who is the instigator in this activity. My little pooch, LuLu, goes along with Frankie out of peer pressure.
Anyway, I was doing the phone interview with this CEO, and I heard a weird sound emanating from outside. My first thought was that one of my dogs was stuck trying to escape, but the sounds were not the sounds either of my dogs would make. They were high-pitched, disturbing screams that sounded as if they might be coming from my neighbor’s house. With phone in hand, and interviewee still on the line, I headed toward the source of the screeching noise. I opened the backdoor, and immediately my heart began to race. By my vegetable gardens, I could see my dogs, and they were engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a woodchuck, groundhog or some kind of creature like that.
I will have to admit that I do not know the difference between many of these critters. I can identify skunks, raccoons and deer, but that is where my expertise ends. This furry creature did resemble the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, who comes out every February 2nd to tell us if spring is on the way. However, this animal was a lot bigger, and he did not look quite as happy as Phil since each of my dogs had one of its legs in their mouths, and the animal was about to be drawn and quartered.
You might have guessed this about me by now, but I don’t do “calm” very well. In fact, panic is pretty much my strong suit. I dropped the phone and started to wave my arms in a wild motion hoping I would grab the attention of my dogs who seemed intent on pulling apart this rodent-looking creature. When my flailing failed to distract the pooches, I started to yell. “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? GET AWAY! STOP IT! LET GO OF THOSE PAWS! DON’T YOU DARE EAT THAT ANIMAL!”
Then I heard this voice screaming at me from a distance, and I realized I left the man I was interviewing on the phone. “Donna, where are you? Are you okay? Should I call 911?”
I ran back to the phone which was lying in the grass and in a surprisingly professional voice I said, “My dogs are tearing apart some kind of animal. Could you hold just one minute?”
The man had to think I was a psycho, but I didn’t even wait for an answer. I threw the phone back on the lawn and ran to get the garden hose. I turned on the water and dragged the hose back to where the animal tug of war and screeching was taking place. In my haste, I tripped over the hose, and yes, I got boo boos which inspired me to let out another set of colorful expletives. To my credit, my bloody knees did not prevent me from saving that bold critter that came into my yard to feed on my garden.
I felt like a super cop in one of those action movies. From the ground, I hoisted myself up on my scraped elbows, took aim with the hose like a sharpshooter and blasted both dogs and the critter. All three were pretty shocked when that water hit them. The dogs, who hate the hose, immediately let go of the animal and took off to hide behind trees. Still trembling with fear, the alien critter stared at me but made no attempt to leave the yard.
I took a closer look at the creature and noticed there was no blood. This animal wasn’t hurt. So, I turned the hose on it again, and it scurried under my neighbor’s fence. Then, I took the girls inside and gave them tons of doggie breath fresheners.
As I was lying in bed that night, I suddenly realized that the phone was still outside on the lawn, and I never got back to the CEO and most likely he heard the whole chaotic event. Yeah…I had a lot of explaining to do the next day.