Dogs deal with unwelcomed visitors

Published 7:30 am Saturday, November 20, 2021

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One night when my son opened the door to let our dog, Little Girl, inside, he found her in confrontation with a possum. Our normally gentle Little Girl was angry and agitated with an attempt to let the unwelcome critter know she was in charge. She kept running back and forth trying to stop it from escaping. When my son yelled at it, the possum finally found a way to lose itself in the darkness.

I didn’t realize until I read an article about possums that the possum is North America’s oldest and most primitive mammal. According to the writer, possums are slow and dim-witted. To prove his point, he said someone saw a titmouse perched on a possum’s back pulling out a beak full of hairs to line its nest. The possum jumped slightly from the pain, but offered no resistance. The writer questioned whether a possum is stupid or submissive. I question if the statement about the bird and possum is the truth.

Little Girl’s experience that night reminded me of one of our Dachshund’s incidents with a possum. One day Lady Dachshund raised a terrible fuss. Every nerve in her long, slender body quivered in tune to her sharp piercing barks. With her keen sense of smell, she had tracked a possum in the yard, huddled under a boat. From the moment of discovery, capture of this invader became her mission in life.

My husband heard the uproar as probably did neighbors up the street. He ran in the back yard to investigate. No amount of persuasion had any effect on the hyperactive dog. From deep in her ancestry rested the strong hunting instinct. She brought forth every fiber of it that day. After a few minute’s chase of the ferocious defender of our territory, my husband grabbed the Dachshund. With the frantic dog in one arm, he lifted the boat with the other.

The bedraggled possum scooted out and shot under the house. Seconds later, Lady pulled herself from her captor’s grip and followed the critter under the house. Lady was now muffled, but still frantic with yips and yaps that penetrated the serenity of the neighborhood. Somehow the possum had found a haven out of reach of the frustrated Lady. There it hovered.

I got home from work about that time and my husband explained what had happened. It was unrealistic to hope the dog would back away from this challenge. Based on the newly found information that possums were dim-witted, we doubted the trapped creature would try to escape. Things were at a standstill.

There was only one answer. My husband crawled under the house and grabbed the dog and drug her out. She twisted and squirmed and barked. The short hair on her back stood up even after she quieted long enough to drink plenty of water. She begged for release to continue the pursuit.

We never saw the possum again. Still, the next morning Lady bounded out the back door and pressed her sharp nose to the ground. She explored the whole yard, circled the boat, and followed the previous day’s trail leading under the house. We were relieved the possum was not in its previous hiding place.