Flowers on a rainy day?  Home cooked meal just for you?  Present from your favorite jewelry store?
No, not these types of surprises.

There is a hard and fast routine in our house, and by fast I mean that as soon as I walk in the door from work the routine must immediately commence.  I fling any personal belongings or groceries I might be carrying onto the nearest capable surface.  The mudroom light is turned on, the door is opened, the food is poured into the awaiting bowls, the back door is opened, the dogs eat…as if they’ve never had a meal.  I usually step outside, survey the yard and what never ceases to be an amazing horizon, then I go back into the house leaving the back door open so the dogs can go out to make their yard contributions.  They’re both quite smart, and will push open the inside mud room door to come in, (always the youngest first) at which time I close everything and we’re in for the night.

A few nights ago there was a deviation from the plan.

The elder lady dog let herself back in the house, immediately coming into the kitchen to scour the floor for any magical yummy food nuggets I may have dropped.  I look around for ‘the baby” (who is actually only 2 years younger than the old lady), but she’s nowhere to be found.  I ask the elder, “Where’s your sister?”  I get the doggie equivalent of an “I know something you don’t know.”  Intrigued, alarmed…or somewhere in between, I go out in the darkness and call her name.  Again.  Again….and finally I see a blur zig zagging the almost acre back yard.  Though certain it was her, this was NOT her typical behavior.  What was wrong with my dog?  This is the dog who must be glued to me, hates loud noises and surprises, and she won’t fetch…but she’ll let me throw it repeatedly while she shows me where it landed.

So out there in the darkness, making obtuse arcs while barreling toward me in the least direct way possible, was my dog.  I cannot explain my sense of horror mixed with pride as she was about 5 yards away and I realized my 50lb baby was herding an opossum….straight toward me.  With a grin from ear to ear as if to say, “Look mom, I brought YOU dinner!!”, my little girl was directing and redirecting a very unhappy marsupial.  I leap up a few steps while yelling, “LEAVE IT!! LEAVE IT!! NO POSSUM!!” as loudly as I could, hoping she’d remember her basic manners.  She froze, looked at me with a face full of disbelief that I’d rejected her gift, and the opossum dashed off through the herb garden never to be seen again.

We came back inside and although I’m sure professional trainers would advise against it, I gave treats.  LOTS of treats.  After all, how can you punish the dog who won’t fetch or retrieve for HERDING a wild animal all the way to her person.


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