All I Need is a Chimpanzee . . .
For the first time in their lives, Laverne and Shirley are earning their keep. My dyspeptic dachshunds, who are worth their weight in weinerwurst simply because of their sheer entertainment value, have turned out to be more useful in Florida than they ever were in Georgia. I mean, not counting all the UPS guys and tax assessors they kept away from the house.
It seems I’ve moved to Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I’m actually thinking of changing my name to Marlin Perkins and finding a sidekick named Jim to go after the dangerous critters around me. Since purchasing this house, I have been chased by a bobcat and stepped within 18 inches of a rattlesnake as big around as a fire hose. Okay, maybe the bobcat wasn’t running after me, but he was trotting briskly toward me, which caused me to run like the wind back toward home.
Last week, my neighbor found a coral snake in her yard. The other night, my son was startled by a fast-moving armadillo. It serves him right sneaking outside to talk on the phone after midnight.
Amazingly, Laverne and Shirley are turning out to be my “Jim.” First of all, my dachshunds are fearless snake hunters who aren’t afraid to be bitten. They know a snake bite causes them to puff up to the size of a small dirigible for a few hours but that they’re ultimately immune to the venom.
They know this because they’ve been treated at the emergency vet for snakebites before. A dose of Benadryl and $500 later, they’re fine. So they hunt snakes.
And possums. Laverne, who is all of 7.5 pounds, cornered a large possum in the garage not long ago, and that sucker played dead for a full 8 hours after his encounter with little Laverne. That’s me pulling her away from the possum in the picture below.
The raccoons in the neighborhood get into other people’s trash. But they don’t bother with mine because of my fearless dachshunds. My parents, who live in my neighborhood, have an ongoing battle with raccoons and feral cats. They regularly wake to find the remnants of a raccoon party on their front porch, and a feral female kitty has delivered as many pregnancies as Michelle Duggars under their front porch. I’ve offered to loan them Laverne and Shirley for a little while, but they’ve opted to go with some machine that emits a high-pitched frequency in hopes that will keep the critters away.
So far, it’s not working so well at keeping the raccoons away. It drives my nephew Joe crazy, though.
There is one creature who is the bane of my dachshund’s existence. The one animal they wish they could be rid of forever is Pancho, my three-legged Australian Shepherd. Pancho somehow decided that he is their shepherd, and he tries daily to herd them. If Laverne defies him, he picks her up by the collar. She is frequently airborne. If Shirley refuses to wade into the ocean, he grabs her leash and pulls her in.
Last week, he outdid himself. I was out at the beach with Pancho and Shirley. He began tugging on his leash to get to the water, and she was digging her heels in and refusing to get close to the water. I was ankle-deep in the surf, arms outstretched, trying to hold onto both of them. His leash snapped, and he took off, jumped into the surf, rolled in the water a minute, then came back to me. I was frantically bent over trying to take Shirley’s leash off to use on him, thinking she wouldn’t go anywhere because she’s afraid of the water. But when Pancho began running toward us, she took off. And Pancho went after her.
I was running down the beach screaming at my dogs, much to the delight of every single person on the beach. For the record, I’m not as fast as a three-legged Australian Shepherd or an overweight dachshund with thyroid issues. Fortunately, Pancho has had enough training to know that when I yell “Sit!” with enough panic in my voice, he’d better sit. So he did. And that made Shirley hesitate. In a perfect Marlin Perkins “We’ll just stand here while Jim goes in” moment, I yelled at him to “Get Shirley,” and miraculously, he headed her off and slowed her down enough for me to grab her.
Yep, just call me Marlin Perkins. I’ve got my own Wild Kingdom show going on.