Backyard Religion

Yesterday was one of those perfect days as far as Sundays go. Woke up late. Went out for breakfast. Hit up Costco. Washed the car. Took a nap. Thumbed through some cookbooks. Tried a new recipe, which, if I’m being honest, wasn’t all that great (new recipes often have a way of sounding great on paper but the reality at times, is a let down). And by 9:30p, I had toddled off to bed and even turned off the TV. Sleep began to invade my day dreams and I welcomed it.

At some point in my quickly fading consciousness, I began to hear ...this love has taken it’s hold on me… repeating over and over and louder, with more urgency. I jolted out of bed as it dawned on me that I was hearing the ringer on my mobile phone. As I ran down the hall to the kitchen, I tripped over Shiba sitting in front of, and glaring intently at, the back door as if to will it open. The phone number was not recognized and I sent them directly to voicemail…heck, it was 10:30p after all. As I came back down the hall, I noted that Shiba was still very intent on using her special powers of telepathy to open the door. Of course, not wanting to crush the self-confidence she possesses in her “special powers”, I eased open the door and out she went, proud of her specials gifts I’m sure.

Shiba, for those unfamiliar with this most amazing of dogs, is part Chow Chow, part Shiba Inu, and is ALL spoiled rotten Diva. She doesn’t bark as there is no need. She doesn’t make messes in the house, she simply sleeps all day. She likes her breakfast at 6:30a and will announce her displeasure when it isn’t placed in front of her…right on time. And speaking of food, she doesn’t like food that normal dogs eat. She prefers ckicken and rice or steak and potatoes, warmed of course and hold the peas. She doesn’t like other dogs, especially those who make the mistake of trying to sniff her Britney parts. She will somtimes tolerate dogs that equal her in size (appx 40 lbs), as long as they stay away from her Britney parts. Any other creature is not wanted or welcomed and is apparently fair game…owners be damned. This was evidenced the first week we got her as she chased the neighbor’s cat into their house causing one naked (no lie…bare ass naked) neighbor to run screaming through the house while dishes and glassware came crashing down all over the place. Truth be told, she is a loving, wonderful dog who thinks that we rule. She follows us around the house, lays at our feet, gives us kisses and in general is the perfect dog! To top it off, she’s this beautiful red color that is often mistaken for an over-grown fox!

As I stood half asleep, barefoot and in my boxers, I heard what sounded like Shiba chasing something up one of the trees in the backyard. She’s done this on several occasions with the neighbor’s cat and, in my half-asleep state, I thought perhaps they were up to their games again. I stumbled out of the courtyard into the backyard and looked to my left where all the noise was coming from. Shiba was not at the tree. It seemed odd since the noises continued all down the side of the fence.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the backyard, I saw her standing in perfect pose against the lights of the fountain. Was that something dangling from her mouth? Immediately, I thought of the neighbors cat and my heart started pounding frantically. I yelled at her, but she trotted away to the middle of the lawn. I ran closer, continuing to yell. She continued to ignore me! As I yelled, I got a better glimpse of whatever it was that was dangling out of her mouth. Shiba, jaws wrapped around the neck, was violently shaking this bundle of fur, eventually dropping it in the middle of the lawn. As she stood over her prey, looking every bit like a wild animal who had just killed dinner, I suddenly saw my princess in a whole different light. I got as close as I could to the bundle of fur hoping against hopes it wasn’t Tigger the cat. As I did, Shiba grabbed the fur ball by the back and shook it, giving me the distinct impression she was attempting to break it’s back.

My adrenaline was pumping as this wildly primitive scene played out in front of me. Shiba, while obviously proud of her kill and wanting to show it off, had no desire to be the obedient house pet we’ve come to know and love. She was a killer and no amount of yelling or screaming was driving her from her prey. She had caught it dammit and it was hers. By this time, I realized my own near nakedness and ran into the house to put some clothes on. Clothed and with some shoes on, out back I ran, only to find the scene unchanged. Shiba was busy playing with, and killing her prey. I yelled some more. She ignored me some more.

I spotted a water bucket and grabbed it, intent on making this somewhat grotesque and grisly scene come to an end. I glanced around, knowing the neighbors might be peering from over their fences and out of their windows and would be loving what they saw. Shiba dropped the prey from her mouth and stood, quite proudly, looking at me…a bit of fur hanging from her mouth. I banged and waved the bucket in her direction and she slowly started slinking away. I quickly looked at the bundle of fur and, after inspection, breathed a sigh of relief. Tigger was safe, at least this time. Leaving the dead animal where Shiba had dropped it, I ran in to alert the rest of the house to the goings on of the past 5 or so minutes.

To be honest, I was a little bit freaked out when I looked at my perfect little angel. Tracking blood into the house, with bits of fur hanging from her mouth was not exactly the look I expect from her. With voice shaky from the adrenaline pumping through me, I woke T up from off the couch and we trooped out back to look at the dead thing she had killed. I could already feel myself getting nauseous. Now, I should note here that I witnessed Shiba kill that animal. I saw the snapping of the neck and breaking of the back. It was DEAD!

It was also GONE! The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. In fact, every bit of hair on my body was on end. Some dead animal had apparently had a religious experience on my back lawn, been raised from the dead ala Lazurus, and was now walking around my backyard. T kept laughing at me, but I didn’t care, something wasn’t right. I had a bad case of the hibi jibi’s.

It was decided that if in fact the animal was still in the backyard that Shiba might as well be allowed to finish off the job she had started. I wanted no part of it, but I did open the back door and let her out. She followed the path of her recent kill, peeing over places where she had stood with her prey. It was bizarre to watch her perfect stance with tail raised. She was king of the land and it showed. She trotted over to where we had left this dead beast. After some quick sniffing, she put her head on the ground and rolled herself all over the area. I didn’t want to let her in the house.

Still freaking out about the disappearance of the dead prey, I mentioned that the animal must have been playing dead. At which point T laughed and said, “that’s why they call it playing possum.” Dead!?! Turns out, just playing dead! I didn’t let Shiba know she hadn’t really killed the possum, her self confidence just might not be able to take the hit.

AddendumThis article was written several years ago and is being re-released today in memory of our beloved dog Shiba who passed away this afternoon from a brain tumor! She was an amazing dog that will be missed. RIP Shiba!

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