Sunday, June 6, 2010

Prairie dog

A few weeks ago, just before heading to bed, I looked out our front window and saw this little prairie dog creeping slowly across our front lawn. He made it to our driveway and then made a b-line for our open garage. I went through our kitchen and watched from the window in our garage door (yeah, we have a small window in the door that separates the kitchen from the garage--weird) as the prairie dog crept through the labyrinth of card board boxes, bicycles, tools, paint cans and other home improvement flotsam. He was not exploring. He knew exactly where he was going, and where he was going was our little laundry area at the back of our garage where we keep, among other things, a 34.5 pound bag of dog food.

prairie dog food, apparently.

Who knows how long this had been going on (we shut our garage door every night, but occasionally I don't latch it shut and sometimes the door stays open an inch or two at the bottom--just high enough for an enterprising young prairie dog to squeeze under.
*Incidentally, does anyone else think that "prairie" has entirely too many vowels in it?
We hadn't noticed his intrusions earlier, I think, because he never had to do much to get the food--never had to tear the bag or anything like that. Because our boys usually feed the dog, a few kibbles of dog food usually end up on the floor of the laundry room every morning and if we don't sweep them up, they apparently become prairie dog food.

So, long story short, the prairie dog ended up behind our clothes dryer, desperately trying to be invisible as I attempted to fish him out with a broom handle. The problem is, thousands of years of prairie life have taught the dog to duck and cover anytime they're in trouble. So rather than run like crazy when he was tapped from behind with a broom handle, he just sat there in the corner, crouching into a tighter and tighter ball. I had to nudge him along with the broom handle, forcing him to reluctantly slide across the floor in the narrow space between the wall and the side of the dryer, yipping nervously all the way.

I ended up pushing him right into a white bucket and then covering it with a piece of wood and taking him out into the yard, where I set him down. I expected him to run off, but he promptly tried to head back into the garage. The wind was blowing, so he maybe couldn't smell me, and if he could hear me, he wasn't showing it, and it was apparent he couldn't see me very well either because I kept trying to cut him off from his escape back into the garage and he almost ran into me several times. finally I chased him across the street, which wasn't much of a chase, because this prairie dog didn't want to run. I expected him to bolt like a squirrel or a cat, but instead he only moved enough to keep just ahead of me. If I'd wanted to grab him or kick him or swoop down with eagle talons and grab him, it would have been easy.

About half way across the street, the little prairie dog got the idea that I was really chasing him and he finally turned on the gas. But he didn't turn on the depth perception, because the poor thing ran head long into the curb on the opposite side of the street, reeled from the impact and took off down the street, disappearing into the darkness of a neighbor's yard.

We haven't seen him since. I hope he found somewhere else to eat.

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