I don’t know what kind of dog you have, but I have a golden retriever named Jake. Notoriously, the golden retriever’s like to retrieve. Big shocker there I’m sure! This is a tail of Jake and the retrieval that resulted in screaming, a warm blanket, and an unhappy dog.
Jake in a Nutshell
Jake is full of life and a bit of a clown. Even though he is over 7 years old, he has the demeanor and energy of a puppy. We have seen him slow down somewhat, but he still seems to bounce when he walks and his eyes dance with joy when you throw a ball.
Living on a farm has given him ample room to roam and quite a bit of independence. He has been known to take himself on long walks, but he always comes home when we call. He has grown up around some chickens as well as birds and squirrels living where we do.
These small critters tend to taunt him, but he just patiently walks around them with his head down and tongue hanging out. He knows better than to grab one but boy, what a treat that would be. That’s why this story was such a surprise to all of us!
A Strange Encounter
On one of those early Spring days where there are still snow intermixed among green grass patches, Jake decided he had to defend our property. On this fine sunny day, Jake had his first encounter with an opossum.
Now, I don’t know if you have seen an opossum up close, but they are absolutely hideous. I mean, I am a huge animal lover but there really is nothing cute about them. They have a pretty bad rap, but they actually are quite good on a farm as long as they aren’t rabid. Opossums get rid of tick’s and keep to themselves for the most part.
In our grove, we had seen a mama opossum and a few babies lurking around at twilight that last week or so. We didn’t think anything of it because our Jake would never go after them. How wrong we were.
My wife was gone to work for the day, and I had gotten home a little early. The windows were open, there was a nice crisp breeze flowing in the house. Then, I heard it. Jake went ballistic! He was barking like a crazed coyote.
I immediately dropped what I was doing and ran outside to see what was the matter. Jake was trotting happily back from the grove with what looked like a white men’s sock in his mouth. I thought what a silly explosion of barking for a sock!
As he got closer, my stomach dropped. I realized the white sock was not a sock at all. It was a baby opossum. Jake had finally lost his tolerance for animals taunting him. He had decided to become a hunter.
Quite the Predicament
Jake bounded all the way up the deck steps and dropped a baby opossum at my feet. My stomach turned and I didn’t know how to react. Jake was so proud. I could practically see him beaming through his shiny golden coat. He was frantically wagging his tail and his face was saying, “Look what I got you, ma!”.
Now, again, opossums are NOT attractive animals even when they are small. Their goofy looking teeth and sharp pointed nose are just a recipe for ugly. They have a hairless pink tail that looks similar to a rat. It was all I could do not to scream and kick it off the deck.
So, my wife is gone. My normally happy go lucky dog has turned into a fierce hunter. I’m home alone with an opossum laying at my feet. I was in a situation I hadn’t imagined would ever happen to me. I reacted in the only way I knew how.
A Ridiculous Reaction
Another fun fact about opossums is that they play dead as a survival tactic. I wasn’t sure if the opossum was dead or alive at the time. I think it’s important to remind you at this point, that I am an animal lover. Even though this baby opossum was ugly as sin, I still felt terrible.
I reacted in, as my wife would put it, a very ridiculous manner. I praised Jake and lured him inside with a treat for his bounty. He was happy to oblige and sat happily on his bed munching a peanut butter pop while I threw an old towel in the dryer. An old towel in the dryer? Yes, I did say that.
After about 5 minutes, I peeked out my window to see what condition our newly acquired baby opossum was in. I’m not sure if I was happier that he was alive or mortified I now had to act, but he was moving around slowly on our deck. Because they are nocturnal, I’m sure he couldn’t see hardly anything in the glaring sun.
I did the only rational thing someone would do. I threw a warm towel over the top of him as he looked to be shivering and called my wife.
The Conclusion to a Silly Tail
As my wife was roaring with laughter, I explained what had happened. She was proud of Jake and thought I was absolutely ridiculous. She told me she was on her way home and would handle it from that point.
I heard her car come in the driveway and some laughing on the deck. This was followed by Jake and I watched her return the baby opossum to the grove where we had seen the rest of his family. Jake did not like my wife’s solution, but I was satisfied.
The moral of the story here is, your dog may surprise you at any point in their life. Even if they act one way for 7+ years, they may decide to turn from a passive bird watcher to an opossum hunter on a dime. You just never know.