Yesterday, I had a post ready to go. The working title was It’s official, Annie is a city dog!
I was snapping some pictures to add to my post when I realized that perhaps things are different from what I originally thought.
The theme of the story was that Annie grew up and lived in the country before she came to live with us. Unfortunately, for most of her life, it wasn’t the idyllic existence that one would think of for a country dog. She and many other dogs lived in rural Michigan in an area without an animal warden. Care and conditions were terrible and there wasn’t anyone around to inspect or enforce violations. Once she got into foster care, she was exposed to a wonderful country life with open land to explore, a pack of 6 other dogs to play and bond with as well as love, affection, vet care and regular feedings from a wonderful family.
Transitioning to our city life took her a while but she has embraced it. We have a nice sized fenced yard and we are a couple of blocks from a bustling downtown with restaurants, shops, bakeries and coffee shops. Walk a few blocks in a different direction and we are on the shores of Lake Michigan. Annie loves our walks, whichever route we may take although she is always cautious and alert when we are passing strangers along the way.Annie’s favorite place is our backyard. She has learned how to let herself out and will come and go to her heart’s content. We have 3 huge, old oak trees that provide lots of shade and she is perfectly happy to lay at the top of the deck stairs or curl up in her favorite dirt hole and sniff the air before falling into a deep, contented sleep. We have plenty of small animals that enter our yard including bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, possums and occasionally a skunk or raccoon. She has never paid attention to any of them nor has she exhibited a prey drive.Imagine my horror when I opened the door Monday to let everyone inside before I left the house to run some errands and there stood Annie with a floppy, bloody, dead rat in her mouth. Yes, a rat. The most vile creature ever to walk the planet. Living near restaurants and water means that there are also rats in the area but until this summer I have been blissfully unaware of whatever may be lurking on the other side of our fence.
Two things happened this summer to encourage this invasion into our yard. First, two houses away, a dilapidated, dark and unused garage was torn down to make way for a new, modern garage with an upstairs apartment. There were rumors that rats had taken up residence there but I never saw them so I chose to pretend that they didn’t exist. Second, we replaced our fence and gate shortly before we picked up Winn. Our old gate brushed against the sidewalk, the new gate has a pretty large gap between the sidewalk and the bottom of the gate which would allow small animals easy access to the yard.We started to suspect that a rat or two (I know, you see one rat and you actually have many more) were wandering into our yard about a month ago. Maisie loves to play with all creatures big and small and has been spending a lot of time sniffing and pacing in the bushes along our fence line with Winn hot on her trail. Annie has ignored all of their excitement.
When I shrieked at Annie to drop the rat, and she did, Winn was right there eager to pick it up. Fortunately she responded well to my hysteria and also dropped the rat and everyone ran inside avoiding my attempts to grab their collars to hurry along the process.
Once I caught my breath, I couldn’t help but wonder who had killed the rat? Maisie has picked up lots of small critters but has never killed them. She wants to love and play with them. Annie doesn’t have any front teeth and has never shown any interest in chasing or catching them. Winn is interested in everything and while she did drop a baby bunny when I told her to, she wasn’t allowed the time to figure out what the natural next step might be. Had she done it when I wasn’t around to stop her?I was betting on Winn but then, when I let them out later Annie was the one that was running around excitedly sniffing the bushes, around the planters and all along the fence line. It seemed that she was the one that had scored the rat and was very proud of herself. She had officially become a city girl by catching a city rat.The next day, I had my camera ready when Annie and Winn gathered together and were sniffing around the same spot. I thought it was cute and stood away from them snapping pictures when I began to get suspicious. The were very curious about something in the dirt but so far, their mouths were empty. I called them away and as they both came toward me, I was able to catch a glimpse of four small feet sticking out from under a plant close to the sidewalk. Good grief, another one! Upon closer inspection, I could tell that it was a squirrel. I had more questions because neither one of them wanted to pick it up, they just looked at it, looked at each other and then looked at it some more. Were they leaving it alone to avoid more shrieking?
My new working theory is that there is a predator cat in the alley and these maimed creatures are making a quick escape into our yard by squeezing under the gate. Then again, the squirrel could have just fallen out of the tree. I’ve seen that happen before…