Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wild kingdom

In her honor this week, I'll post a few of my columns that featured our beautiful golden girl. This one is from July 2006....

I heard the snoring loud and clear early one morning. Technically it wasn’t yet morning. I call it morning simply because the hour blinking on the alarm clock beside my bed was still in the single digits. I groaned. God wasn’t even awake.

But there it was. The heavy breathing, the sucking sound of an inhale, the slight whistle of an exhale. Just before I threw a sharp elbow into my husband’s unsuspecting side I heard a low “grrr” noise after one particularly annoying snore.

I froze, arm in mid-air and bent at a locked and loaded 90 degree-angle. Wait a minute. Jon doesn’t “grrr” in his sleep. Even when dreaming he’s Danny to Olivia Newton John’s Sandy in “Grease” he doesn’t make a sound like that.

Then I heard it again. This time a little louder but originating from somewhere off the bed. That’s when I realized the true culprit was Chaser, our golden retriever, who was sacked out in the middle of our bedroom floor.

On her back. All four legs reaching high up in the air. Paws twitching. Head flopped to one side. Long tongue hanging out of her mouth, with drool dripping onto the carpet. With another snore and “grrr” her long fringed tail jerked up then smacked down again, adding a muffled thump to her symphony of sounds.

She was deep in sleep, perhaps dreaming about the previous day’s adventure and the important lesson she had learned: Birds are evil.

I walked into the family room the day before to see her lying in the middle of the rug, head up, staring intently at the glass doors that lead out to the deck. Only her eyes moved, twitching back and forth as if she were center court at Wimbledon.

I glanced over to see what had her attention. And there it was. A tiny blue jay hopping around on the deck. Her deck. Chaser’s deck. Innocently bouncing around, chirping a morning song, oblivious to the 90 pounds of hulking beast lying in wait only mere inches away.

I looked back at the dog. She was completely still, frozen in sphinx-like fashion.

I looked back at the bird, which was not so sphinx-like. He kept bouncing around, wings flapping like he was on crack.

Chaser shot flames of death from eyes that said, “Stupid bird. Enjoy it, this last moment on earth. You are about to become my breakfast.”

The blue jay bent down to pick up something with his little beak. The little guy was practically wearing an “Eat Me” sign.

With his back to Chaser, she made her move. She inched her way closer to the door. To the casual observer – and to the bird – she barely moved. Her front paws crept forward. She stretched out her long body, leaned up, then followed with the rear end like a furry accordion.

The closer she moved the louder the bird sang. He twirled and jumped from chair to rail and back to chair. Chaser froze. It was like watching “Wild Kingdom” in my own living room. I looked around for the old guy with white hair. Was he even still alive?

Then the bird jumped back down to the deck, turned toward the door and puffed out his chest in a “come and get me” kind of way. Intriguing. Perhaps he was smarter than I thought, this tricky bird.
But Chaser was too wrapped up in the battle to suspect the blue jay had something up his sleeve, er, wing. Apparently she hadn’t watched enough battles between Tweety Bird and Sylvester to understand the subtle nuance of fighting winged warriors.
She was all systems go. She tensed. Then sprang into action. Her golden body leapt through the air, claws armed and ready. She let out a loud “WHOOF!” for a war cry.
Which was quickly followed by a huge SMACK. The vital piece of information Chaser had neglected to take note of was that the large glass door to the deck…was closed.
She hit the glass face first, slid slowly down to the floor and crumpled into a heap of golden fur and legs. Just like Sylvester. So sad.
And I swear the blue jay gave her the finger as it casually flew away. Blue jay – 1. Chaser – 0.

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