Though Ellie is usually very good about sleeping through the night without needing to go outside, she occasionally wakes me up at some ridiculous hour to go out. (The worst is when she does this at 5:35 A.M., 15 minutes before I get up with the middle schooler). Last night she politely woke me up at 3 A.M., and I stumbled to the back door to let her out.
A few minutes later I opened the door to let her back in, except for that she wasn't there. Annoyed because this isn't our drill, I opened the door a little wider to look out and saw her: perfectly posed like a good bird hunting dog in the middle of the yard, tail straight back, one paw up, locked in and staring at something out of my field of vision. This is not a pose I have ever seen this dog assume. I hiss-pered for her to come in, and she ignored me. I hiss-pered again, she ignored me again. I stepped outside (barefoot) to make sure she knew I was standing there, annoyed, when she turned her head slightly and looked at me with the same kind of look that one might have if they're trying to direct your attention somewhere with only their eyes—like, "I don't want to alarm you but if you look slowly to your left there is a cottonmouth snake ready to bite" or similar. Now she is just being crazy, so I hiss-per one more time.
And then: she takes off at a million Kelpie miles per hour, snarling her most junkyard dog snarl, at the fence. At this point I've nearly died of fright, because WHAT. IS. IN. MY. YARD. at 3 A.M.? Nothing that I care to know about, that's for sure. And then I see it: perched on the 1/4" fence top is an opossum, with it's scary mouth and beady eyes frozen into open hissing position, hissing at my snarling, grumbling, junkyard dog.
It is 3 A.M. I am barefoot. Opossums are the thugs of the night, so notorious they get to drop a letter and be possums, because that is way more menacing. It is 3 A.M. and all I can think is that this hissing thing is going jump down and give my dog rabies in one fell swoop. I hiss-per at double-volume to tell Ellie to Get In The House Now and all that does is wake up the dogs who sleep outside (all the dogs must sleep outside around us, because suddenly there are four dogs barking at our little Kelpie-Possum spectacle).
You might wonder: why don't I just run over and pick my sweet dog up and run in the house and slam the door? After the run-in with the possum in Virginia, it is my life's goal to avoid run-ins with possums. And I don't really like to manhandle menacing junkyard dogs, either, which is exactly what Ellie resembled at this point. Because I am barefoot, I am only able to try and solve this increasingly loud and scary run-in from the little patio, and it doesn't occur to me to go inside and put shoes on because a.) 3 A.M. and b.) the moment I am not watching will be the moment the rabies bite happens, and then I won't be able to answer questions properly at the vet. NO ONE goes in our backyard barefoot even in the daytime, because we are a-scared of what lurks in the centipede grass; it is puffy and mossy and evil things like fireants and giant jumping spiders and toads live in it. I am not making this up.
At this point, I am actually panicking. I flail my arms and legs trying to get Ellie's attention, which is surprisingly completely ineffective. Then I am struck by inspiration: I will THROW something at it! Yes. This will work. I am good at throwing things. I open up the deck box and survey my options: a spray can of chalkboard paint for a project Maddie is working on, some plant food, three hula hoops, some wiffleballs, a multitude of jump ropes, and a few other things I cannot see because it is darker than dark outside. I grab a jump rope and heave it across the yard.
I challenge you to heave a jump rope across your yard and see how ridiculous it makes you feel. Because even if you are Omar Vizquel, it is not possible to hit a possum with a jump rope from any distance greater than five feet away.
I go for the wiffle balls next, now hiss-pering at Ellie like an utterly deranged person to get inside and also SHUT IT because now we're just building the neighborhoods' case for a noise disturbance when someone calls the police. Wiffleballs #1 and #2: fail. Throwing things is not going to work.
Luckily, at this point Ellie suddenly snaps out of her absolute crazy-pants junkyard dog schtick and bolts to the back door where we slam it and run to the bedroom, both of us panting and completely wired. Only at this point as I try to go back to sleep do I consider what has just transpired, and begin to get a case of the crazy giggles (a close cousin to this reaction, no doubt).
Feeling rested this morning, definitely.