I'm working on a magazine piece, so I haven't blogged much. I have so many things to talk about: acupuncture for pets, hydrotherapy for my dog Tommy. I have a Pet Pro question and answer. Also, I have a nifty product to show you that helps your aging pets stand up easier on your hardwood floors.
For now, I'll keep you entertained with a couple of your favorite pet columns from my years at "The Commercial Appeal." They usually involve my beagle, the smallest creature in my house and the one that causes the most trouble. Here you go.
The Beagle and the Dead Squirrel
I was about to head to work. Makeup done, hair looking cute with just the right amount of product to make the ends look all razor-like. Clothed. Shod. Ready to roll.
I made a final walk through my back yard as I always do before I left. The beagle was trotting toward the back carrying something. That's never good. She's not the kind of girl to grab a stick or something appropriate, like, say, one of her toys. I followed her.
She was holding a dead squirrel the size of one of those trendy purse dogs in her mouth. I called gently, but she did as she always does when I issue a "come" command; she took off in the opposite direction. She headed for no man's land, something I call the thicket.
It's dense, twisty, full of spider webs and sticker bushes and she was going in.
And I was going in after her.
Her wagging tail disappeared into the brush. I pulled apart sapling limbs and wound my way through. I walked directly into a web spun about 5 feet 2 inches high. Since I'm 5 feet 4 inches, it draped perfectly across my face.
I squealed and pawed at my face. I decided to walk backwards into the thicket. Look. Step. Look. I tripped on a root and tumbled sideways. I held on to a vine to keep from falling.
Throughout this ordeal, my yellow lab Jack was running in front of me, dropping a rubber ball at my feet. I begged him to give it up. Sometimes he was clever enough to drop it right where my next step was coming down. It was a fun game of "don't twist the ankle."
I couldn't find the beagle anywhere. No sign of her red fur. No jingling of her tags. I began to panic. What if she took her snack through the dog door and she was on my living room sofa right this minute gnawing on a leg? I flung myself out of the mess and ran into the house. I looked in all her hiding places - under the pillows on my bed, behind sofa cushions - and didn't find her or the squirrel.
I put on my glasses (needed to see far away) and headed back outside. I worked like a crime-scene investigator, canvassing my yard using a grid system. I called her name, which was pointless. You never met willful until you met this beagle.
I headed back to the thicket and, this time, I spotted her in a dense area, the squirrel between her paws. She had her mouth on a thigh.
I got close enough to yell at her and shoo her away with a stick. Next came the fun part: trying to carry a dead squirrel out of a thicket full of poison ivy, vines, stumps and spider webs without touching the carcass.
I picked up two sticks and tried to squeeze it between the two - my chopsticks method. It tumbled off. Meanwhile, the beagle made a lunge for the tail so she could take off with it again. I shooed her. I bent over, and my press badge (yes, I am a professional, don't try this at home) was dangling close to the carcass. I tucked it into my shirt.
I got a different stick that broke under the weight of the 2-pound squirrel. I found another stick and managed to dangle the recently departed squirrel like a wet towel across a single stick. By this time, I was soaked in sweat. My clothes were sticking to me. My makeup was running into my eyes. I was dripping everywhere.
I climbed out of the brush and kept the carcass balanced on the stick, holding it high like a wand.
I put it in a plastic sack and headed to the trash can, which had been emptied that morning by the garbage men. That meant seven days of dead squirrel - in the summer - in my can!
There was only one choice, well, three: I could have buried it, maybe called the city's dead animal pickup service or wait two days and sneak across the street with my sack and put it in in one of the neighbor's trash cans.
I opted for the latter. Two days later I was up before sunrise, fishing the vile-smelling sack from my trash can. I didn't want to spend my years dodging him every time I went into the front yard. I walked down the street carrying my sack. I just went to the grocery store; I thought people might deduce. I lucked out when I found a pile of debris on the curb down the street. I tucked my sack under some of the junk. I watched later as the truck with the big claw cleaned the curb of everything, including my stinking, dead squirrel.
With all the new inventions, I'm hoping someone will come up with a carcass removal system. Maybe some giant tongs and a plastic bag full of lime. Until then, I'm open to suggestions.
Tell me about your experiences. You can leave your messages in the comment section.