Killer in the House!

“NO!” I yelled at the top of my lungs.

It landed on deaf ears. Fluffy, lovely coiffed black ears that is.

The Poodle's one, and hopefully only, kill

The Poodle’s one, and hopefully only, kill

So, for reasons unknown to me we have a proliferation of chipmunks this year. They are everywhere. Popping up from underneath rocks, skittering about to and fro between the fence and trees and on the roof too. Up, down and around and even into my flower pots they go.  Okay…so they are cute, but they are mighty annoying particularly when they cause a certain someone to bark like a maniac.  Yes. That would be The Poodle.

The Poodle’s favorite thing to do is to sit at attention at the back patio door. There, he looks out over the back yard in rapt attention, eyes spanning the yard in hopes of seeing something, anything interesting. I get it.  Really I do.  His life is a bit more boring here than his Southern California days when he was able to be out and about with me every day.  So, staring at the back door is his television and most days the programming is the same. The “nature channel” features lots of squirrels, lizards darting about, birds bathing in the bird bath (now chipmunks too), and even deer walking the back fence line in search of food. We’ve also got a red fox that wanders in. She’s the proud mother of five babies, nestled in their den which is located in a mound of rocks at the next house over. A large groundhog often sits on the rock line behind the fence as well; he’s surveying the land, as it were, while armadillos (the scourge of the neighborhood) often wreak havoc digging large holes during the night. Often the nature channel’s programming is preempted by a torrential downpour or thunder and lightning and the wild sway of trees in high winds. This is when The Poodle retires to a dark corner, curling up into a tight ball, shaking with fear if the thunder is particularly loud and sharp.  I’ll wrap him in a towel or grab his Thunder Shirt, if the thunder hangs around for a while, in the hopes that this will alleviate some of his fear.  We all wait for the weather to blow over and when it all clears, The Poodle is back at the door watching his favorite channel.

When a squirrel wanders into The Poodle’s view, literally taunting and teasing him by ever so slowly sauntering up and down a tree or scurrying back and forth across the patio, Poodle goes absolutely bonkers (this, by the way seems to happen with annoying frequency when I’m trying to carry on a phone conversation!).  The Poodle barks and whines at the door and then runs around in frenzied circles. He does the same when chipmunks frolic in the mulch beds just off the patio.

Oh boy, Oh Boy, OH BOY! Please let me out…PLEASE LET ME OUT, NOW!

And, I often do. Squirrels and chipmunks are fast little critters as you well know. And while The Poodle shoots out the door every time like some super sonic missile he’s simply not fast enough to beat them.

Or so I thought.

So yesterday I’m sitting on the back patio, a glass of wine in hand, reflecting on the events of the past month with Rocket-man. It’s been another very painful month on the mama-drama front. Let’s just say that the words betrayal and lies best fits what has occurred over the past month. I’ve just returned from a lovely weekend visiting my best friends of thirty years. It was a chance to get out of my head for a couple of days and see a couple that has seen me through my darkest moments…and, in the process, they have never turned their backs on this often conflicted but ever-evolving soul. They’re my family and I am one very lucky woman!

As I sip wine and tell Rocket-man about my weekend away, The Poodle is relaxing by my feet, happy to have me home. Just as I was delving into my story about eating a delicious chicken and vegetable crepe at the farmers market in downtown San Antonio, The Poodle is up in a flash, making a mad dash across the patio and into the yard.

It takes us a nano second to see what is happening. “NO, NO, NO, NO!” I yelled. Rocket-man was yelling too.

We were too late.

Oh my God!  He’s gone and done it.

The Poodle has killed a chipmunk!

I’m horrified and sick to my stomach.

We rush to the site in hopes that the chipmunk is just momentarily stunned. “Maybe he’s playing dead? I say hopefully in between yelling “Leave It” at my dog. The Poodle is bent on finishing the task and is not heeding to our “LEAVE IT” command. I grab a hold of The Poodle’s collar and lead him away in one quick yank while Rocket-man checks on the fate of the chipmunk.

“Yep. It’s dead,” confirms Rocket-man. “I’ll grab the shovel and dispose of it,” he adds.

I lead The Poodle into the house, admonishing him all the way. Would he have eaten the poor dead thing?  I wonder as I walk up the patio steps.  I shudder at the thought. Well…you’re not sleeping in my bed tonight mister.

I make The Poodle stay inside while we return to our patio chairs. Rocket-man says I need more wine after witnessing this traumatic event so he brings me another pour. The Poodle looks out the window at us, still panting in excitement.  He’s trying to get our attention with an expression that seems to convey, ”Aw, come on mom. Let me out. I promise to be good.” 


My Guilty-as-charged” four legged love.


Yeah, right!

“Well, he is a hunting-retriever dog,” says Rocket-man trying to get me to brush the ordeal off.  “He’s simply doing what dogs do.”  So, Rocket-man, in an attempt to bring levity into the situation, has now started calling The Poodle “Killer.”

Naturally, I am not one bit amused.

Wimpy Poodles….not allowed!

You know it’s very cold outside when the poodle refuses to go out.

I awake early.  Most mornings I am out of bed before 5:30.  This morning I was out of bed earlier, for no reason in particular, drinking my espresso by 4:45 a.m.  Apparently, the poodle decided to sleep in; he did not follow me out of the bedroom nor did he seek me out asking to go out for his morning business.  He appears a half-hour later though, just after I have finished reading sections of The Wall Street Journal and after my second cup of espresso.

I greet him with an enthusiastic “ Good morning” and a pat to the head and then I open the door for him to go out.  A blast of frigid air greets us both.  Oh my God….it is COLD!  The poodle stands in the doorway with his nose in the air sniffing;  he is conducting a quick assessment of the outside environment.

“Go…Go,” I say shivering (I am still in my robe and pajamas, mind you).  Poodle is not budging.  Anthropomorphically speaking, he gives me this look that suggests: Are you nuts? You try doing your business in these arctic conditions!

“Are you kidding me?” I say in exasperation.  I try to nudge him with my foot.  “Go…now” I say again with a more authoritative voice.  Nothing doing.  He stubbornly stands in the open doorway.  I try a ruse that works nearly every time I use it when he’s being stubborn about going out when I want him to:  “Squirrel…Brando!  Go get the squirrel.”  He does not move.

You can’t fool me this time, his expression suggests.

“Oh for heaven’s sake!” I say as I wrap my robe tightly about me and head outside.  Normally, he follows me.  Instead what does he do?  He sits inside the doorway.  “No way!” I almost yell.   I’m freezing my derriere while this poodle is standing in the doorway refusing to go out in the cold.  Incredible.

I think for an instant of the team of standard poodles who completed the grueling 1,100-mile Anchorage to Nome Alaska Iditarod sled dog race.   My poodle cannot be a namby-pamby wimp!  Besides, he is sporting his longer winter coat precisely for colder conditions.

COME…NOW,”  I say in an oddly satanic-sounding voice.    AH…now the poodle steps out of the doorway, but still, does not go out into the yard.    Pointing out into the yard, again in my satanic voice, I say: “GO… PEE…NOW.”

There was probably only a second or two of hesitation on the poodle’s part (though standing there in the freezing cold it may as well have been minutes), but finally he complies.

He makes a running bee-line to his spot and in two blinks of an eye he has accomplished his morning ritual and is running back to the door.  No sniffing around the bushes in the yard in his customary fashion and no hunting for squirrels or birds. He’s one smart poodle.   “Bravo Brando,” I say hugging him once he is back inside.

I then check the temperature on my iPhone.  No wonder.  It’s five degrees outside.  The high for today may get to 29 degrees.  Folks in Alabama aren’t used to these cold temperatures.  An early morning news report states the area’s power grid is being severely strained; the power company is asking people to cut back on their usage as there are already sporadic accounts of power outages.  This is not difficult for me. I prefer cooler temperatures in the house and sleeping in a cold bedroom, under the warmth of a down comforter.  There are health benefits to keeping a cooler house after all, not to mention savings on the monthly utility bill.  Last month our utility bill was almost $500…that’s incentive enough for me to turn down the thermostat!    I’ve got the house thermostat set to 65 degrees and I’m wearing my cashmere wrap around my shoulders for extra warmth.  Rocket-man isn’t too happy.  It’s too cold in the house for him.  “Go put on a sweater,” I say.

“….and besides,” I add…”shivering burns more calories.”

For your entertainment, here’s a Johnny Carson YouTube clip about poodles in the Iditarod.  If I were ever to move to Alaska…. (OK….THAT IS NOT HAPPENING) …I’d be inclined to try this with my poodle.