So I’d say my dogs are cold-blooded murderers, but if my years as a crime-drama aficionado have taught me anything, it’s that if there’s no body, it’s not murder.
Let me catch you up:
First, let’s go back a few months to the weekend after we moved into our new house. It was early December and we were still far from settled in—boxes everywhere, furniture askew, etc. That Sunday night we let the dogs out to go to the bathroom, and they beelined for a raccoon that was meandering through our yard at the time. As you can imagine, the scene was something out of my nightmares.There was a lot of hissing and growling (mostly from the raccoon). Bill had its neck and Cyrus had its tail/back legs, and I couldn’t tell if they were trying to kill it or if they had no idea what to do with it now that they caught it.
Chris and I ran out into the yard and pulled them off the raccoon, which was laying on its back making gurgle sounds that haunt my dreams, to this day. We got the dogs inside, and they had some scratches on their faces which drew blood, but were otherwise fine. I cleaned them up as best I could, then turned to Chris and said, “Dude. There’s either a dead or dying raccoon in our yard. We need to end its suffering and get rid of it.”
Ever the rugged outdoorsman, Chris valiantly grabbed his bb gun from the dining room table (why was there a bb gun on our dining room table?!?!?) and we crept back outside to take care of the raccoon. The plan? Bludgeon the dying critter hard and fast to end its sad little life as quickly as possible. I felt so bad and didn’t want it to suffer any longer. So he did that. With the butt of his bb gun. Because we didn’t even have a shovel or bat or anything more useful in this very specific situation.
A few minutes after we got inside, I realized Cyrus’s cone of shame had busted off in the critter scuffle (the reason for the cone is another story for another day). So I went back out to grab it and discovered something horrifying: the racoon wasn’t there.
After the very graphic, but well-meaning, attempt at racoon euthanasia, it was motionless and emitting a sound that could only be described as a death rattle. But now it was GONE. Had it just been playing dead? Did it crawl away to die a slow death in a neighbor’s yard? IS THERE A ZOMBIE RACCOON ROAMING THE STREETS OF DES MOINES? There were so many unanswered questions.
So since this incident, we’ve implemented a very normal routine of not allowing the dogs to exit the back deck at night without us stomping around, making noises and shining a flashlight out into the yard to scan for anything that might be considered prey (I can only imagine what our neighbors think of us…). We haven’t seen a single raccoon since that night, but we do have a lot of rabbits in our yard. And they always manage to escape under a fence when they hear the dogs coming. Until today.
A little background: We had about 4 inches of snow on the ground until yesterday when things started to melt, slowly. Then, early this morning, there was a thunderstorm and lots of rain. This turned our yard into a slushy, muddy poop soup, because it was slowly melting and uncovering all the frozen dog poop. (I know what you’re thinking, and YES, my life really is this glamorous all the time.)
So when I got up this morning, I let the dogs out onto the deck, where there is a closed gate, preventing them from entering the yard. I scanned the yard for critters, saw no movement, and opened the gate. Once again, the dogs beelined for the back of the yard, behind some trees, where there was a rabbit. When the rabbit realized it was being hunted, it darted away, but couldn’t manage to find an exit point and was just racing aimlessly around the yard with my two dogs chasing it down, and ultimately, catching it.
I’m of course yelling at them to stop, but it was falling on deaf ears, so I ran down into the yard—in the rain, in my slippers. Like last time, I couldn’t tell if the dogs were trying to kill it or if they genuinely had no idea what to do with it now that they caught it. I pulled them both off by their collars and let the poor little bun bun escape. It wasn’t bleeding, but it was NOT walking right. It kind of hobbled away while I dragged my dogs back inside through the slushy, disgusting yard.
When I got them inside, I walked back out to see if it was up to me this time to play the role of the angel of mercy, but I couldn’t find it… I’m still not sure if it managed to escape or if it flopped under a bush to die.
So this is my life now. I’m the mother to two blood-thirsty creatures who I’m fairly certain are slowly and deliberately creating an army of zombie critters in our neighborhood.
Also, I haven’t let the dogs out again yet today, but I think there’s going to be a leash involved next time. Wish me luck.