Battle Under the Bush



Lu usually waited for me in the mud room, but today I caught the swish of a tail through the office doorway as I opened the outside door.  I came up up the two stairs and into my brightly lit office, to spot Lulu sitting with her back to me, staring out the french door.

Lu barely glanced over her shoulder towards me, and as I got closer I saw her whole body trembling.  This usually indicated she had spent at least an hour watching some sort of furry, forest critter on our porch.  She had already ripped loose at least 3, two by fours from the fence surrounding the propane tank where the chipmunks lived beside the brick patio.  It must be pure torture for her to tensely watch small creatures darting across her yard, tramping through her territory.

I looked out and saw nothing, so held her back as I opened the door.  If I let her out too quickly, she would plunge through the screen door, and I was getting tired of constantly having to repair the fragile aluminum bound screen.

After much shoving and grunting, Lu bolted through the doorway, veering right and heading towards the fenceline at a dead sprint.  Something had her locked and loaded, and I headed out to sit in the grass and watch as she sprinted the perimeter of the yard, plunging into the air as she flushed birds, and leaping high in spastic reactions as she disturbed some small groud dwelling creature.  She radiated energy and joy as she reacted to the life around her.

She spotted me sitting in the grass, and with eyes squinted, ears back flat, and a huge grin on her flat head, she sprinted straight at me, twirling at the last minute to body slam me sideways.  I wrapped my arms around her as she slid into me, and we rolled over in the grass wrestling like fiends.  She leaped away, butt waggling in the air, daring me to catch her, but I just sat there laughing gently, talking to her softly, encouraging her to calm down.  She is a powerful animal, so I try to not to encourage too much rough housing.

Suddenly her head shot around, and I looked up to see a small dark shape heading across the lower end of the yard.  I reached out to grab Lu, but she was off like a streak, and as I watched the dark furry shape disappear in the large mass of bushes at the back of the property, I also watched as a larger white shape hurled itself into the same bushes with a howl of pure rage.  This must has been what she has watched all day, a very large ground hog – and now all that pent up frustration and energy was focused on destroying the intruder.

We had not had ground hogs in our yard for several years – basically since we had introduced dogs to the yard, but somehow this very large ground hog had found a way to burrow into our well secured, double fenced property.  I suspected there were old tunnels around the bushes because this is where we had seen them, and Lulu was always digging her trenches back there.

I jumped up and took off for the bushes.  Were ground hogs vicious?  Could they hurt a dog or cause rabies?  Did they carry other diseases?  All of these questions raced through my head as Lulu thrashed screaming through the bushes, and I peered in looking for a way to grab her and pull her out.

Suddenly, Lu leaped from the bushes holding the struggling ground hog in her jaws, whipping her powerful neck form side to side, guttural snarls rolling from her small muscular body.  This was not my dog.  This was an animal completely driven by a desire to kill, muscles rippling across her body as she used all of her power to kill the animal that had dared to intrude into her territory.  I backed up and watched as she pinned it to the ground, deep grumbles receding as the struggles of the ground hog slowed.  There was nothing I could do at that point.  The ground hog’s life was quickly coming to an end.

Lu raised her head to look at me.  Her face was still contorted into an expression of rage, blood streaking her jaws.  She glowered towards me, lowering her head, and I watched as her facial muscles loosened, jaws parting so her longue pink tongue could loll out while she sucked in cooling airs to squelch her fire.  I squatted down and gently called her.  I could see blood on her neck, but did not know if it was from her or the animal she had killed.  She growled deeply and nudged the ground hog with her nose, but it did not move – just rolled limply in the grass before settling back, dead.

Lulu walked slowly towards me until she reached me, butting her head into my chest and breathing hard.  I could see where her neck was cut, so I stood and headed for the house.  Lu turned and looked back towards her kill, then turned and quickly followed me towards the house.

I cleaned and treated the small superficial cut, and left her inside as I went back to retrieve yet another carcass for the animal graveyard across the street.  I’ve had dogs all my life, mostly retrievers.  I’ve always watched these domestic animals and wondered how they would survive without people.  With Lu I’ve never had any doubts about her ability to survive, and sometimes I even wonder how she survives with me, having to always contain the instincts and desires that are just below the surface – that completely overwhelm any domestic impulses at the first opportunity.  It must be hard to constantly want to hurl yourself savagely at life, and have everything constantly snapped back by barriers and limits.

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