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Truth is Stranger

I’ve been working on a fiction story for the last few weeks but keep getting interrupted by reality.

At our house, you just never know what’s going to happen.

Tonight, as I wrote about a princess, my German Shepherd came galloping up the stairs.

He’s my safety net; hopefully I won’t need help anytime soon, but I’m training him as a service dog.

We’ve been working on things like:

  • Help! (I lie on the floor as if I’ve fallen and he helps me back up.)
  • Dish. (He hands me his bowl.)
  • Open. (He uses a paw to open an unlatched door for me.)
  • Take it to the laundry. (He trots whatever I hand him back to the laundry room. That one’s just for fun.)
  • Sit-stay. (He waits for me to verbally release him from a sit.)
  • Hush. (He stops barking at other dogs. We’re working on this.)
  • Leave it. (He ignores whatever caught his attention.)

and our most recent success,

  • Bring it to me. (Self-explanatory.)

Today, he really latched onto the idea and started bringing me items he thought I might need. I was cleaning the garage to surprise Hubby, so he was actually a big help.

Back to my story. The true one.

He sauntered up to where I sat, typing, and spat something wet at my feet. He looked up, expectant. “See what I brought you? I’m a good boy, yes? Where’s the treat?”

I couldn’t figure out what it was. But that smell…

The sodden little creature at my feet was a baby skunk.

My service dog brought me a critter.

And so, calling for Hubby to please bring paper towels, I abandoned my fiction for the truth.

I swaddled the cold, unmoving little body. We went outside. Strong, skunky musk hung in the cool night air.

We’re a bit odd; we love our skunks. An old albino lives in our woods. I almost invited him into our house when we first moved in, mistaking him for our fluffy white cat (I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time).

“I’m sorry about your baby, Mama!” The breeze caught my words. I didn’t see her.

“He’s just a baby,” I said, heartbroken. “His eyes aren’t even open.”


I stayed outside, not ready to bury the tiny, cold body. Hubby went back inside, crushed. I could call him when I’d held it long enough.

Hoping for a miracle, I started drying the silky black and white fur. No movement.

“Please, God, it would make Hubby so happy if this baby lives. Please make it breathe.”


And then, a tiny gasp.

For the next half hour, I rubbed and tickled and blew on his coat. His breathing remained erratic, but gained momentum.

When I was confident that he could breathe on his own without my encouragement, I went inside to show Hubby. We called a friend who is a wildlife rehab expert (and amazingly, at almost midnight, she picked up the now-named baby Oliver).

If anyone can keep him alive, she can.

After she left, I sat down to write again but couldn’t stop staring at the picture of the little guy in my hand…and I thought you might want to see him, too.


Photo Credit: Casey Alexander

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a big German Shepherd downstairs who definitely deserves a treat.



Rodent Rehab and Lush Puppy

Last night’s story, as promised.

As you may have surmised from my last post, it’s been rough around here the last few days (weeks…months…). The kids have been less than cooperative. Yesterday, I finally hit a breaking point and asked them to list all the things Hubby and I do that show we love them. They compiled a rather extensive list (I was impressed, actually).

“So, we do all these things for you, every day, all day long. Now I want you to make a list of the things you do to show that you love us.”

They looked at each other for about a minute, then back at me. “Nothing.” “We don’t.”

I couldn’t decide whether to be relieved that they understood, or disturbed that this epiphany didn’t seem to faze them. I asked what they thought they could do about it.

“Obey.” “Stop doing the opposite of everything you tell us.”

High hopes after the conversation. We’ll see what happens…we’ve had similar talks in the past. Hubby and I decided that there IS headway. The highs and lows downgraded from Peruvian Andes to Rocky Mountains. This life is exhausting, but if our progress stays steady, by the time they reach adulthood, we should be kicking fully functioning members of society out of our nest.

So anyway.

I really, really like margaritas, so I have them about four times a year. (I know, I should probably cut back.) We went out of town for a weekend and I’d bought one of those freeze-a-margarita-in-a-pouch drinks while we were there, as we don’t drink in front of the kids and don’t usually keep it in the house. (Remind me to tell you the Tiramisu story another time.)

We never got around to drinking it, so it migrated home in the cooler. Last night, I thought, “Ahhh…it is time.” So I retrieved the little sucker, squished it until slushy and squeezed it into a styrofoam cup. Settling into our soft sofa, I opened my laptop to read a few blog posts.

After two sips of sweet, tart, frozen liming-on-the-Trini-beach-ness, my phone rang. Hubby was calling from the back yard. He makes fun of me for calling from the house to the garage instead of walking out to talk to him, so this was something new. Therefore, I answered. “Oh-lo?”

“Hey. You should come out back. I found a ‘possum. He’s…playing ‘possum.” (You see how I got around my dilemma of possom vs. opossom… “one is spelled correctly but doesn’t look right…the other sounds right but isn’t…ahhh, use an apostrophe.” It’s not world peace, but it’ll do.)

I set my cup on the table next to the couch and hightailed it outside. Two dogs and six or seven cats were circling like fuzzy, four-footed sharks (the beagle had been curled next to me on the couch and I left him inside). Dragging the German Shepherds away from the furry bundle, I shut them inside and ran back to Hubby. He wore an odd expression. “He might not be playing dead.” There was blood in the silvery fur. The little guy didn’t move.

Hubby went to the shed and came back with a shovel. “I’ll go dig a hole.” In the flashlight beam, we suddenly saw the ‘possum twitch, heaving for air. Hubby groaned, “Oh, no. He’s still alive.” We stood together, watching. Shaking his head, Hubby walked off into the woods. I heard the shovel bite the earth. He returned a few minutes later, and we looked again.

This time, the little guy seemed to be struggling less. We covered him with a towel. “Should I call animal control?” I asked. He nodded (Hubby, not the animal, although I’m sure Little Fuzzy agreed, too). By this time, it was after 11 pm and animal control was closed, but the non-emergency police dispatcher made a couple calls. Five minutes later, I was in touch with a volunteer Wildlife Rehabilitator. Turns out she lives about eight minutes from our house.

“Just pick him up by the tail and put him in a cardboard box. If you grab the tail, it can’t bite you. And anyway, they’re very docile. They only bite if completely cornered. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Grab him by the tail, indeed. Little Fuzzy’s face was actually on top of his tail, and every time we got too close, he opened lips to show his four thousand (slight exaggeration) sharp teeth. So, that was a big ix-nay on the ail-tay. Emboldened by her no-biting promises, however, we both scratched him gently behind the ear. He seemed to like it.

When she arrived, the Wildlife Rehab lady scooped him up like a cat, no problem. She and her teenage son inserted him in a small animal carrier. She agreed he was probably hanging around for the free food, since we have a small swinging animal door to the garage, where we feed the felines. “He looks okay. Probably just needs a few days of rest. Once he’s better, I’ll bring him back.” Not sure how I felt about this, I didn’t argue, lest she dump him back on the lawn for us to rehab.

After she left, Hubby and I let out a combined sigh of relief that we did not, in fact, have to dispatch a near-dead animal. We went back inside; I trotted upstairs to retrieve my drink, surely melted by now. I’d re-freeze it for another day.

The cup was not where I’d left it.

I found it, carefully moved from the end table and now wedged upright in the corner of the couch, not a drop spilled.

But it was empty.

My first thought: “One of the kids came upstairs, drank the ‘slushy’ and now I’m going to jail.” Then I saw the beagle. Weaving.

I went downstairs, the dog following. He normally bounces down the steps…this time, I’d call it more of a slide. He stumbled off the last step and landed against the wall, where he remained, leaning.

Looking more closely, I asked the dog, “Are you drunk?” He grinned at me, eyes half closed, tongue lolling. One happy pup. “You, sir, are under age. Even by dog years. No more margaritas for you.”

Hubby called from upstairs, “What are you talking about?”

My answer, I suddenly realized, summed up my entire day.

“The dog drank my margarita.”

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