This was Duke’s conundrum.
Neither of these is the actual woodchuck that Duke and Gertie caught. I was too busy screaming and trying to wrestle the dogs away to take a picture of THAT woodchuck.
You see, the boxers encountered the aforementioned furry woodland creature on an outing several days ago. I let the dogs off leash in a field, and I saw Duke startle on the other side of a tiny wooded outcropping. I thought he had encountered a bee, or maybe even a plant he’d never seen. But when I rounded the little tree I saw a terrified but aggressive woodchuck. Then Gertie saw it–or more likely smelled it, as it produced a musky smell similar to that of a skunk (though thankfully not nearly as strong!). Both dogs lunged at the rodent, although Gertie waffled between attacking and cowering (Am I the brave huntress? Or am I scared of this thing?). I screamed and screamed for the dogs to come to me. That didn’t work, and when Duke had the poor creature belly up, I started to run away because I knew I didn’t want to witness the gruesome kill. (I know, I’m a coward, but it seemed a foregone conclusion at that point.) But somehow as I was starting my escape, Duke backed off just enough that I could grab his harness. And Gertie was just scared enough that she wasn’t going to attack alone, so she eventually came with me. Phew!
The woodchuck, much to my annoyance, stood its ground the entire time. Once I finally had a hold of the dogs, I urged it to Shoo! But no, it just bristled its fur and released some more musk. It didn’t seem very big, but it must have been a mother protecting its babies. So I’m extra glad the dogs didn’t kill it (and that would have been a disgusting clean-up job; it may have rivaled the deer poop puke incident).
Duke did come away with a small trophy. A day later I noticed a little bit of blood on his new toy, so I opened his mouth to check his teeth. I didn’t find the source of the blood, but I did find some gray-brown reminders of his big adventure–woodchuck hair. (Duke was never actually too worried about the woodchuck-hair-in-teeth issue. As I was writing the first part of this post, he was sawing logs so hard that the woodchucks are worried about their habitat.)
A few days after that, I took Duke to the vet for his annual check-up. The first thing Dr. Weber did was open Duke’s mouth to check his gums. He said, “Hmmm, Duke’s gums are getting even more overgrown. He’s even managed to trap some hair in them.”
Me: “Yeah, that’s actually woodchuck hair. He and Gertie caught one. But it got away!” I explained that I didn’t really know how to remove woodchuck hair from a dog’s teeth (and I had kind of forgotten about it). Dr. Weber grabbed a cotton swab and swiped the hair out from Duke’s gums. Hmmm, I guess I could have done that. The job did take two more cotton swabs and a pair of tweezers (and even caused Dr. Weber to comment, “Gross, Duke.”).
Free of woodchuck hair and oh-so handsome!
Luckily, the dogs didn’t run into Willie the Woodchuck, a frequent diner in my parents’ yard, when we visited that weekend. They did run into these two bundles of cuteness:
Gertie and Ella (my niece)
Gertie thought she needed to share Tyler’s blanket.
Have your dogs ever caught a creature unexpectedly?