Last year I wrote about my sweet, shelter dog, Asta. She’s named after the talented dog from The Thin Man movies. We were told she was a border collie mix, believable based on her looks…more unbelievable, but true, she turned out to be Great White Pyrenees, Chinese Sharpei, Harrier, and Welsh Terrier, plus a mix of other breeds. She used to try to run away at every occasion. These days, even when she gets out, she stays pretty close. We’ve been able to teach her the basic tricks like sit, stay, beg, and play dead. She is definitely a family dog and no longer a stray. She prefers to sleep in bed with one of the kids, or at least on a dog bed nearby.
Last fall, we had a little scare when we heard her screaming out in the back yard, behind the garage and out of sight. There are no lights back there, so we just kept calling her. Eventually she came, limping around the garage. My daughter ran out and scooped her up and carried her inside. I thought she’d sprained or broken a leg, but after a while she was up on all four feet. We examined her closely and found a raccoon bite on the white fur of her inner front leg. This dog is a fearless fighter.
This summer, Asta has become a blood-thirsty hunter. She goes out the back door and stands at attention at the top of the steps. She surveys her backyard domain…she waits for the perfect moment. When she spots a squirrel, she waits for it to idle, then seeing it unsuspecting, she springs into action, running at lightning speed to try to catch it…she rarely succeeds.
But in the last month, Asta had a couple of easy kills…and then she got bloodthirsty. We found the first, a baby groundhog a day or two after she killed it. Apparently it’s not “good eating”, because she left it where it died. We saw her sniffing at it, which is how we found it. I thought at first that she was innocent, since she hadn’t eaten it. My son, in a rising moment of adult behavior, dug a grave and buried the unfortunate fellow.
About a week later, in broad daylight, just moments after going out the back door…Asta appeared with an animal in her mouth. This time the baby groundhog was still alive. Now, I’m no fan of critters in my yard…but I also can’t bear to see an animal, even a wild animal, suffer. I made the dog drop her prey and sent her inside. I watched as the little animal struggled to breathe and realized that the dog, leaving not a mark on it, must have crushed its lungs. I felt compelled to kneel down and stroke its back as it struggled to breathe and ultimately died.
Groundhogs apparently banished from our yard, my husband and I left our college-aged son in charge of our house and dog and took off on vacation for Ecuador. While we were gone, the dog took on a skunk. Of course, she lost the battle with the skunk, but she seemed completely nonplussed at being incredibly stinky! Our son bathed her in hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish liquid…although he didn’t know to leave it on her before rinsing it off, so she was still a bit stinky when we got home.
Just days later, again in broad daylight, Asta killed a squirrel and was halfway through devouring it by the time we could drag her away. Then, a few days after that, I was at work when my older daughter called me to ask where I’d put the dog tar shampoo. We’re not sure what she killed and ate this last time, we only know that she was covered from snout to tail in animal blood. No remains were found.
So, what is this animal who sleeps in bed with my kids? Is she a sweet pet or a weredog? I guess she’s something in between. I hate to deal with the dead animals and the aftermath…but to put a good face on it…at least my fenced-in backyard is on notice for critters!
Find the Joy in the Journey…even if you have to put up with a bloodthirsty weredog along the way!