Every night after dinner the dogs go out.  It’s all part of the habit-forming behavior we’re diligently trying to instill in Mabel.  She has to stay in her crate while we eat and then she goes outside right after that.  There is still one more scheduled outing and that is right before bed. 

So the other night we went out for our post-dinner potty break.  Both dogs ran outside per usual.  I went to get them 5 minutes later and Alex was just sitting in the driveway (versus sniffing about the smells of the yard) and Mabel was standing at attention with her back to me (versus running at high speeds around the yard). 

Suddenly Mabel pounced.  It was dark.  I couldn’t get a good look at what she was pouncing on and I wasn’t going outside because I had on slippers and the porch was wet.  I grabbed the fail-safe trick – the bucket of treats.  This will get dogs running from miles away.  That is, of course, unless there is a pounce-worthy thing in the yard. 

I could now see that Mabel was tormenting this “dead” thing and I was able to distract her with fake bacon long enough to get her in the house.  Alex doesn’t need much convincing, as she is not one to do much hunting. 

Dogs safely inside, I decide to investigate this critter some.  From the porch (slippers).  Without the dogs obstructing the view I can see that this is very clearly an opossum.  Playing dead. 

Ew.  A giant rat-ish thing.  Gross.  Its wirey tail and pointy snoot.  Its long fingers and toes with those nasty talons.  Ick. 

OH NO!  What if it bit Mabel!  Oh, my God!  Mabel has rabies!  Search, search, search the squirming beagle…no bite marks.  Phew.  That was a close one.

After 20 minutes I went to see if my fake dead animal had mosied himself elsewhere.  Huh… nope.  Still playing.  I swear it was looking at me!  It was opening and closing its eyes.  I swear.  Wade didn’t see that part (even when we pulled out the binoculars), but I swear!

20 more minutes…

10 more minutes…

15 more mintues…

3 minutes…


At this point I considered searching “how long will an opossum play dead” on the Internet, but I was tired.  Surely once the porch lights were off he would wander off feeling secure and without fear of a beagle pounce. 

(Needless to say, the dogs did not get their pre-bed potty break and this was without any mid-sleep incidents)

First thing the following morning I checked out the window and realized that our poor little opossum wasn’t playing.  (I swear I still saw his eyes move, though!)

After Wade’s medical examination (with a shovel at a safe distance) it was determined that he suffered a heart attack.  Literally had been scared to death.  There were no visible wounds, so technically, Mabel & Alex are not murderers. 

His stiff, dead body has been disposed of and the dogs are permitted outside again.  They are, however, both still going back to the opossum spot in hopes that it will materialize again.  Let’s let them dream. 


~ by zuzu on March 4, 2008.

3 Responses to “R.I.oP.”

  1. Dogs are so weird. Since his surgery, Kodiak has to go out on the leash instead of having free rein of the yard. He doesn’t like this, so my “punishment” is to be pulled into the bushes so he can sniff and pee on everything.


  2. If they’re anything like other dogs I know, they will sniff the heck out of that one spot forever. And they will always know where it is and find it immediately.

  3. Poor opossum! Who knew they were so fragile!

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