My two Siberian Huskies, Seeku and Mishka, pride themselves on their hunting prowess. They like to pretend that they are wolves, I think. Every now and then I would get a small token offering on my back doorstep: small rodents, a bird or two. There is nothing quite so wretched as stepping out your back door and onto a dead lizard, lovingly left for me by Mishka.
One hot summer's evening in July last year, I woke up at two in the morning to hear both dogs barking, and let me be clear--this was not the lazy 'I want to come in' whiny bark, but rather a full-scale alert 'intruder' bark. Both dogs were signalling that they had a serious situation that needed my immediate attention! I sprinted out the back door and onto the patio with my flashlight, and I could see both Seeku and Mishka circling something in the dark, something that hissed violently in response.
I thought, 'Oh, no! It's the neighbor's cat!' but a quick flash of a long pink tail quickly revealed that I was either dealing with an R.O.U.S. or perhaps a possum. I ran around the corner to get the water hose, planning on water-blasting them apart and ending the brawl. However, when I came back to the patio, waterhose in hand, Seeku waited for me happily, with this really dopey self-pleased expression on his face, and Mishka pranced around the deck like she was doing a victory dance.
I shone the flashlight into the yard. There, about ten yards out, was a huge discernable lump in my grass. They had killed the possum. I glared at both dogs and got the shovel.
Seeku followed me out, sniffed at the poor possum, and looked at me proudly. I prodded it with the shovel, the old phrase 'playing possum' echoing in the back of my mind. It was definitely dead, I was sure of it. That was one big possum, so large in fact, that I couldn't easily scoop it up with my yard shovel. Every time I tried to get under the poor dead thing to lift it up, it just scooted down the gentle slope of the yard farther away. Finally I got under the body with the shovel and plopped it into a five gallon bucket I had brought along with me that I had stuck a trashbag into, thinking that I would seal up the trashbag and then call animal services to pick up. When I dropped the possum into the bucket, it was so big that it just pulled the bag down and slid to the bottom. Not willing to reach in and fix the bag, I bit back a shudder and quickly carried the bucket all the way around the house to the front yard.
I called animal control to come and pick up the body.
When the truck arrived early next morning, the driver came to my front door, wanting to know where the possum was.
Didn't he see it right by the curb? It was enormous!
But my bright orange bucket and trashbag were empty...seems like my little friend had been playing possum all along! I had carried a bucket with a live possum in it!
He's still out there, biding his time, waiting for revenge...