A Backyard National Geographic Episode

Maxie in Undergrowth

I need to preface this post by saying I was completely horrified by the events that took place in our backyard.  This is why I do not watch Animal Planet, National Geographic, or anything that might potentially involve a hunter and their prey.

Please read this in your head in a gravelly Australian accent.

The early Californian sun shines through the large Pistache trees, scattering speckled shadows across the sea of green savanna sparkling with dawn’s dewdrops.  The bamboo waves in the gentle breeze.  All seems quiet with the exception of the distant call of the mourning doves which hauntingly echoes through the crisp morning air.  Such a serene vista. A startling mechanical sound clatters through the air as the pool filter kicks on.  The morning sun dances on the ridges of the rippling water, as it circulates.  A lone human being in a really pathetic, forlorn bathrobe, sits under the protection of a covered patio, slowly sipping some dark watery substance and staring off into the distance with a glazed look on her face.  She may possibly be related in some way to the Tufted Ear bird Dog based on the way her hair protrudes from her head.

The mourning doves sing, the breeze whispers and the bamboo sways.  In the distance (please place your hand in a salute position over your eyes and squint ever so slightly) movement is noted.  On closer inspection it is the elusive Tufted Ear Bird Dog (Maxie) accompanied by his tall, lithe companion (Mikey).  They are statue still side by side.  It seems they have spied their prey.  Their heads drop in unison as they crouch into their stalking position.  It has suddenly become eerily quiet as the birds in the trees watch silently.  The human raises her head, she too suddenly notices the change in her surroundings and stops sipping her beverage to watch, as she squints into the early morning sun.

As if on cue, the Tufted Ear Bird Dog utters his familiar wart hog bark and bolts TBD 1towards the flower bed as fast as his little rotund tummy allows him.  His trusted companion, startled by this sudden uncharacteristic burst of energy stands still, attempting to understand, makes a few little jumpy motions and then trustingly bolts after the Tufted Ear Bird Dog, following him into the undergrowth.  A cacophonic explosion of sound erupts from the bush as both dogs are seen bounding along the fence line.  We hear a crashing and crunching of branches and the swooshing of foliage as the two beasts barrel along, chasing their prey.  The blues jays are now squawking their encouragement from the trees, the squirrels are likewise shouting their protests.  They close in on their prey, and then a litany of squirrel screams drowns out the cries of the blue jays.  The Tufted Ear Bird Dog has captured his prey.  His fur poofs up and down as he can be seen pouncing repeatedly on his prey, mercilessly playing with his catch.  The blue jays screech, the squirrels yell, the last sounds from the dying animal are heard and the backyard becomes quiet and still again as the Tufted Ear Bird Dog lays down to admire his accomplishment.  Mikey, the blue Great Dane is still rather puzzled by what has just occurred but the rest of the animal world (well at least in my backyard) understands what has just happened and all silently ponder the scene that has unfolded before them.  The Tufted Ear Bird Dog has just caught his first squirrel.

When we return, will Mikey ever understand the secrets of the pool sweep?


ADDENDUM:  Because of this incident, I now have to look at Maxie (the Tufted Ear Bird Dog) a tad differently.  I had no idea he was capable of this type of violence (actually I had no idea he could run that fast either).  This is the same dog that hugs my ankles and uses my feet as a pillow, when I am working on the computer.  After having thought about this for 2 days now, I have realized although our family dogs are domesticated and are our best friends, they are still inherently animals with instincts that track back to a time when they lived in the wild (and not on the futon with pillows and blankies).  We need to respect and remember that.

27 replies »

  1. That was the most beautifully descriptive account of a squirrel killing I’ve ever read. lol Seriously, love your humor and writing style – and your dogs! Nice work 🙂

    • It is kind of a sick post – now that I think about it, but we were all so surprised that Maxie was able to get up enough speed to even catch a squirrel. Thank-you for reading and the really kind comment!!!!!!

    • I like squirrels as well, and I wasn’t really in the least bit happy about what happened in our backyard – but it is a reminder that although our animals are what we like to call domesticated, quite obviously the call of the wild runs very shallow. Hard to look at my sweet Maxie and know he has that in him.

  2. I felt trepidation starting to read this post but you wrote it so well and your conclusions were so sound, you won me over. It is always strange to see a person or animal you feel you know well behaving differently – particularly when as it turns out, that “differently” comes very naturally to them.–Colette

    • I know – it was very disturbing to see my Maxie act in such a way. I had to write about it because it bothered me so much!!!!

  3. Ah. G’day mate. Ripper yarn there about your pooch. I’m not surprised though. Dogs will always chase prey and are likely to kill it if they ever manage to catch it which is a rarity.
    Our dog Dexter is always chasing squirrels, rabbits, birds and mice. In 18 months of trying he has caught exactly nothing!
    Lovely post.

    • I must say the whole thing was a bit shocking to say the least! I think he may have had some help from Mikey the Great Dane. Thank-you for reading!!!!!

  4. something very similar happened @ our place with 2 of our dogs several years ago…one of our children was out playing, and came across a new born baby deer….(we live in the country) Will not go into details, but bambi ended up just like your squirrel 🙁 the whole thing traumatized everyone present.

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