Richie-the mighty hunter

Richie checking up on the opposum

I have this small dachshund named Richie that has been mentioned in many of my blogs mainly due to the fact that he is so energetic and gets into everything. Today was no exception as I saw him nosing around one of the sheds. The more he nosed, the more excited he got so I figured that something was under there. Usually, it’s a rat or a mouse but one time, this small kitten came out. It was a ferrule kitten and was like a bloody spitfire. Richie couldn’t get near it and like a fool, I tried to pick it up and it nearly ripped my hand off. Luckily, I was wearing heavy gloves so it didn’t do me any damage.

We both decided that it wasn’t worth it and the kitten climbed over the fence to escape. Turns out, we were all unharmed by that episode, me, Richie and the kitten.

Richie was keeping up with his prowling and I checked to make sure that all of the blockades put up to deter him from getting under the shed were in place and went back inside. Fifteen minutes later I came out to clean the hot tub filter and heard Richie barking up a storm and it was coming from under the shed. He had found a small opening and had dug it big enough to squeeze himself through to get at whatever was under there.

The last two times Richie has had “under shed episodes” he nearly got himself into trouble. One of these was under a different shed and one was under the deck. The shed episode he got into it with a big old tree snake that was all of 6 feet long. I managed to call him off from that one and we let the snake slip away. The deck episode happened at 3:00 am and this time, he cornered a racoon and they had a heck of a battle which consisted mostly of jumping in and jumping out as each took a shot at the other. The ‘coon got in the final blow and Richie came limping out covered in his own blood from a very small scratch on his nose but with a huge dent to his pride.

This episode was different. I should mention that this shed is raised up enough for small dogs and animals to get under but access is from one side only which is the side that I thought I had barricaded up. Years ago, the oldest of my cocker spaniels who was blind, managed to end up under this same shed. The only way I got her out was to literally dig a trench big enough for me to slide into to get far enough back to reach her.

I had visions of having to do the same this time so I cleared away my barriers and dug enough out that I could shine a light under the shed. Meanwhile, Richie was barking up a very excited storm and laying on my belly with the flashlight pointing under the shed, I saw that Richie had cornered an opossum. It was giving as good as it was getting and there was the usual jockeying for position followed by a swift dart forward with the other guy doing a backward jump to avoid the onslaught. All the time, Richie was keeping up this constant barking which for all I know was to help terrorize the intended victim. Or maybe it was Richie’s way of keeping up his courage and the barks were self reinforcement.

Richie is not well-behaved at the best of times and given the current circumstances with him worked up into a hunting frenzy and highly excited, he paid absolutely no attention to me and continued with his battle. I went around the other side of the shed to see if I could dig a way under closer to the action but to no avail so back to the front and I started digging the trench so I could get in there. I was able to crawl in a little way but could not see them as they were behind a block that helped to hold up the shed so I crawled back out and got a hose pipe and tried to end the fight with water.

That didn’t work and I went to get a better digging shovel and started back on the trench. In the meantime, it had gone awful quiet. The silence was deafening. I couldn’t see anything and crawled back out and Richie was standing there looking at me at eye level as it to say, “What are you doing under the shed”?

Breathing a sigh of relief that he was not hurt other than a small scratch on his nose …again, I shovelled all the dirt back in and did a better job of blocking it off in the hope that there would not be any re-occurrences of these situations, yeah right, probably wishful thinking on my part.

The story is not over as I had no idea what happened to the opossum but I found Richie, some ten minutes later, over by the compost heap looking very suspicious. Sure enough, he had dragged that opossum out from under the shed when I was getting the other digging tool and had carried it a full 40 yards to the fenced in yard which has the compost heap and many other things and was standing there looking at it. The opossum was doing his opossum thing and was not moving and I could see that it was still breathing but was chewed up in a few places. So, I poked him with a stick and he got up and kind of staggered over to the fence.

I took Richie inside along with the other dogs to give the little opossum a chance to recover. By the time I got back out there, it had managed to climb up onto the fence although he didn’t look in very good shape. I let the dogs back out and Richie stood guard just in case the opossum fell off the fence.

Opposum on top of fence, recovering

I had to run some errands and when I came back an hour later, the opossum had gone hopefully making his way back into the woods. I checked around just to be sure but there was no sign of him.

I am hoping this story had a happy ending. I know it did for Richie as he did not get hurt and had the excitement of the chase and the capture albeit only temporarily. I hope that the opossum got away and recovers as we try not to kill anything in our house except those damn rats. Dirty smelly things.

It got me thinking if today was a good day for Richie. Do dogs have that sort of reasoning ability that makes them happy or sad? In his case, he is nearly always happy and has a tail that non stop wags madly from side to side even when he is poking around in the garden looking for lizards and frogs and the occasional mouse or rat.

But today was different. He actually had to fight to win his prize albeit only temporarily. Does that give him more or extra satisfaction? I guess we’ll never know…

In the meantime, Richie is back out there sniffing around for anything that moves. The mighty hunter…

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