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the dog and the snake

07 May 2011

I could easily have titled this “more things puppies eat.” I first detailed a highly depraved list in Eight Things Our Puppy Has Eaten.

When What They Try is Supposed to be a Virtue

Puppies are supposed to try your patience. It’s just what they do.

It’s been especially trying for MW the past month because our great dane puppy Luna’s been making really good progress using the Clicker dog training method.

But while Luna has steadily improved her walking and in-public behavior, she’s really, really struggling with what to do whenever MW says, “Luna come.”

Isn’t it obvious?

Not exactly. “Luna come” somehow enters her ears and is translated along her auditory canal. By the time it reaches her language center, it has become a “Luna, be free and do what you want” invitation.

It’s one thing to watch Luna embrace her inner libertarian at our home, or in our relatively small and fenced garden. It‘s another when she’s off-leash at the dog park and there’s something, born from either womb or egg, hanging from her mouth.

This scenario has occurred twice in the last month.

Vole to Go, Please

I’ve previously detailed (with some disgust, I recall) Luna’s March consumption of a very dim-witted vole. It’s still a pretty gross image, especially when hair from the unlucky rodent finally came out in the wash, so to speak.

According to OD, we were very close to Vole 2.0 a week ago, when they took Luna to the dog park for a run.

The grass has grown tall (2 feetish) since March and Luna absolutely loves bounding through the tall blades, despite picking up ever-present ticks.

During one of the early morning romps on the edge of a trail, she stopped, and dropped her head to ground to sniff and explore. When she heard the “Luna come” invitation, she raised her head and displayed yet another illustriously intelligent vole dangling from her mouth. This set off the panic alarms for both MW and OD.

I Like My Meals to Wriggle

Inside Barney the Dinosaur

sometimes it's a purple dinosaur, sometimes I chew rodents

MW was particularly worried the first time that the vole might be carrying a disease that Luna could pick up by virtue of her higher rung on the food chain. It’s a little bit like the old abstinence warning that when you sleep with someone, you’re sleeping with everyone your date’s slept with. Goes for voles, too. When you eat a vole, you’re ……

After a brief chorus of frantic yelling, Luna dropped the vole and trotted ever-so-nonchalantly back to MW who was furious that Clicker training seems so deficient in this one important area.

A Week Later

Northern California is home to a lot of snakes, some/many of which are venomous. With the grass long, the voles plentiful and unencumbered by self-preservation thoughts, the park in spring is a Vegas buffet for rattlers.

This week, we again took Luna to the park. It was almost a replay of the vole incident. The grass was long. Luna went off-roading. She halted and bent down, rummaging and foraging. MW was ahead on the path, exhorting her with hopeful “Luna comes.”

OD and I were closer to Luna when she raised her head with what looked to be a stick dangling from her mouth. OD yelled to MW, “Luna’s got a stick.” As Luna started to bound through the grass, the “stick” appeared a little too elastic and bouncy to be made of wood.

Sure enough, as Luna approached, rejoining the path just in front of us, I realized it was a snake that had formerly been whole. With 14 inches of bloodied strands and severed skin hanging down from our puppy’s mouth, the scene completely unnerved MW.

Cue the hysterics and “you’re a dirty dog” exclamations.

The Straw and The Camel

Fortunately, Luna dropped the snake in the grass and jogged towards us. That was a feint, though, for she just as quickly decided to return to the carrion and investigate it further. This was the proverbial straw and camel moment.

MW completely lost it. She threw Luna’s leash on the ground. She shouted. She stomped and waved her arms. She ranted “dirty dog” this and “dirty dog” that. Several “when will you learns?” augmented the scene.

If a dog can be chagrined, then Luna ably affected a look of apologetic contrition. She ambled over and allowed MW to capture her. Leash 1 – Freedom 0.

MW’s rant over, I didn’t bother looking for the snake to determine its kind or which end Luna had put in her mouth. Either end shows that Luna has a deplorably low culinary standard, and we probably don’t have to choose the extra-tasty (and more expensive) dog treats at the store.

Hoping it isn’t a Trend

If you’re counting, that makes three too-close encounters with animals. Three is where chance starts to morph into trend. Do you think it portends trouble for our great dane puppy?

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