“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Setting Traps, Playing Possum, Living Like Dogs and Cats

Maggie, my white yellow Lab, is fast catching up with me. She’ll be nine next month or 63 next month, depending whether you’re a dog or a human. It means that Patty Cake, who was attacked by a coyote last year and nearly killed, will also be 63 in a year.

1M P

above: Maggie and Patty Cake in 2003

But right now she’s a lot younger than I am, and here’s what she’s doing for entertainment these days: Laying traps for the raccoons that come up to the patio. Because I feed them. Sometimes leftover muffins. On a good night, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Raccoon looking for food


Here’s how I know that she had malice of forethought: At first she would just run barking toward the patio table where I put the food when she smelled the raccoons. No luck.

Then she started lying still on the portico, hoping she’d be able to sneak up on them while they were distracted by food. That didn’t work. Raccoons aren’t that stupid.

Then she started hiding just around the corner in the garage. By now I’ve noticed that she actually has tactics and strategies, but who’d believe that one?

This next one sealed it: She got UNDER the park bench on the portico to hide, thinking, I guess, that no one would see her. Trouble is, she’s a bit overweight and at 56-1/2, she could no more bolt out from under that bench than I could.

But this next one freed me up to tell someone, so I’m telling you. She left food in her pan. Food. Food she didn’t eat in hopes the raccoons would be desperate enough to come up on the portico where she could catch them red-handed.

Or just catch them? Suddenly I wondered what she’d do if she really got one.

The other night I kind of got the answer. All this barking and noise on the patio signaled that I’d better get out there. Joanna Leigh was right behind me. I threw on the lights and looked over at the food table. She had one trapped. I looked more closely. No, it wasn’t a raccoon; nevertheless, Maggie was just standing there, sort of pointing, even though she’s a retriever. Barking.

Joanna Leigh said, “Is that a raccoon?”

I looked again. “No. It’s a possum. Yuk. A possum.”

“We don’t like possums,” said Joanna Leigh flatly, commandingly.

“No, we don’t,” I said.

“They’re YUK,” she said.

“Yeh, they are.”

The ugly thing looked like his tail had gotten wedged in an opening in the brick wall, leaving him hanging upside down and trapped, Maggie barking and barking. What was I going to do? I went inside for a while, trying to think how to get the thing off the wall.

I went back out with the broom, thinking I’d just use it to flip him up and off the wall. But he was gone and Maggie was just standing there.

So, I doubt Maggie would do anything if she actually caught a raccoon. So, I’ll go on feeding them.


above: Maggie and Patty Cake 2010

In a year, Maggie and Patty Cake will be 70. I’ll be 68. Joanna Leigh will be 4-1/2. I think people learn too late that time passes as quickly as dogs and cats reach 70.

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