One of the things Michael did this weekend was to put up a sign. This sign.
Well, today we had a visitor.
Moose has never done real battle before. She’s “groomed” and “punished” the cat on many occasions, but the cat always pulls his punches. She’s tussled with the neighbor’s dog who, in recent weeks, decided Michael and I are tasty treats. But those engagements are brief corrections on proper dog etiquette – “Those are my pack mates and you are not allowed to bite them.” She’s chased a lot of dragons and warned them in her big girl voice that, “You shall not pass!”
But today, after a long, hot afternoon spent guarding my back while I refurbished the blueberry patch, Moose and I retreated to the porch for some shade. No sooner had I sat down and got comfy, than she shot off the porch like a rocket. My eyes followed her course and I saw this brown fuzzy thing bouncing across the far end of the yard. I couldn’t tell what it was, but Moose was already on it, telling it, “to go away or else.” She was very brave.
I hollered at my oldest that Moose had got something and to come see. Then I strolled through the yard, watching Moose feel out this invader to her territory. It tried to climb a tree, but Moose hauled it back down. She’s played that game with the cat and thinks of tree climbing as cheating. Once back on the ground, the two of them spent a lot of time circling each other, calling each other names, questioning parentage and issuing grandiose insults. Brian came out and we watched. He volunteered to shoot it. Not something I saw any point in doing if Moose would somehow succeed in convincing it to leave.
Suddenly, the two were locked at the nose. Moose gave a quick shriek and backed off, her mouth quickly filling with blood. She learned the hard way that ground hogs don’t pull their punches and they are sharp on one end.
Brian asked about the gun again. “Paint ball gun or 22?”
“You decide.” I said, worried now because my Moose was injured.
Brian lit off for the house to get the gun and Moose began, well, giving ground to the ground hog. It looked for a while like that rodent was going to run my dog off my property instead of the other way around. The wheels turn slowly in Moose’s head, but they do turn. Eventually, she worked it all out and then quite suddenly, she darted in for a body strike. Then another. Moose was done giving ground. Pauxatawny Phil wasn’t going to see another winter. I could not stop her, and all the damage done after that was done by the dog and it was considerable.
Brian returned with the 22 and when Moose backed off to consider her next advance, Brian fired, ending the fight. Even after the ground hog quit moving, it took several barking commands from me to get Moose to leave the unfortunate trespasser. But she did leave in the end, running straight for the unfinished pond in the middle of the yard. It’s about a quarter full of muddy water at the moment, but it was enough to wash the blood out of her mouth.
A few minutes later I gave her a good rinsing with the hose and inspected the damage. The bleeding had stopped by then. She has a nick above her nose and a couple of shallow gashes on her lip line. Nothing serious. After I dried her off, she went into the house and took a nap. Battling actual dragons is very exhausting it would seem.
Moral to this story is: Ignore signs at your own peril.