Return of the Turkey(s)

This year, Lucy was ready. Before the bird could even get the first “Pssst hey dog, help me” out, Lucy spoke up.

"Don't ask me to free you."

“Don’t ask me to free you.”

“Don’t ask me to free you. I won’t do it,” she proclaimed while staring up at the turkey.

Before the turkey could respond, Lucy added, “And don’t try to scare me with stories about how the humans will cook me next. It won’t work. This is my 3rd turkey year with them and they haven’t done anything like that and never will.”

Bella barked twice from behind Lucy.

“Oh yeah,” Lucy said, remembering something more, “and don’t even think about trying to bolt out the front door again. No matter how fast you think you are, my little friend here is faster. She makes a Whippet look like a tortoise.”

Bella barked once in approval, straightening up even higher on her powerful legs. Then she suddenly froze, and pointed up at the kitchen counter. Lucy knew by now this usually meant something. The Luce cocked her head to one side while trying to follow Bella’s gaze.

Something was different. Something was very different this year. Something was just a little off. Lucy could feel it.

The turkey was just sitting there, not begging or speaking in rapid fire pleadings, or sputtering oil and salt and pepper, or falling over into the sink. Nothing like the previous encounters.

Both dogs stared up in silence while the turkey in the sink remained motionless.

And then it happened. A second turkey swooped in from higher up on the counter, and landed right in front of the first. This one seemed much swifter, and Bella completely missed when she took a swipe at the bird with her paw.

The moving turkey catapulted itself on top of the faucet and lay perched there for a moment. It screamed out in momentary pain as some of its innards flew out and onto the sink basin. But the bird quickly recovered. Having already been skinned and packaged, losing some guts was a minor inconvenience.

Losing some guts was a minor inconvenience.

Losing some guts was a minor inconvenience.

This one spoke. “I heard of you. I know you. I know you won’t free us. Don’t care. Have no fear of you, do we.”

All Lucy said was “Two turkeys?”

The talking turkey’s neck wobbled a little at this. It was very unsteady. The first turkey remained silent, but looked on.

“TWO Turkeys?” Lucy repeated excitedly.

“Yes yes, I heard you the first time. We are two. Yes.”

A voice from another side of the house chimed in “At least that big smelly animal can count!” Both turkey’s necks craned in unison to discover the source of the sound. It was a furry white cat. Two other cats stood by, flanking the one who spoke.

Lucy and Bella ignored the sound. The silent turkey turned its neck just a bit too far, causing its entire neck to separate, and flop into the sink with a loud thud.

Bella growled softly, ending in a high-pitched bark.

“That’s right,” Lucy snorted. “One down.”

The talking turkey was enraged. “You think this is funny??”

“A little,” Lucy replied.

The cat chimed in again. “They are easily amused, such simpleton creatures are the canines.”

At this, Bella lunged in their direction, causing a few hisses as the cats scattered up high onto the furniture. One found recluse at the top of her cat tree, the other two on the high back rest of a couch.

Bella returned to Lucy’s side as if nothing had happened. The cats shot over looks that could kill, flicking their tails up and down angrily.

“Do you know what this means?” Lucy asked the turkey with the remaining neck.

The turkey spoke again, craning his neck gently so as not to lose it. “It means you can’t catch both of us. No you can’t catch both of us. You can’t you can’t no way. One of us will act as a decoy while the other runs out the door. It is a turkey tactical deception, it is. Been practicing it all year. Yes all year.”

Bella instantly accepted the challenge, and looked ready to run. Lucy was expressionless but curious as well. This was all new. And she liked new things.

“No,” Lucy replied thoughtfully. “They brought both of you here, which must mean one of you is for us and the other for them. It means dogs get their own turkey this year!”

The turkey looked perplexed.

Bella looked ready to give chase. She raised her hips high in preparation for a good sprint. She barked twice, then once more.

“No need,” Lucy responded to Bella. “I have a better idea. Howl like you have to go outside.”

Without hesitation, Bella howled. She cried and barked and swatted the back door with a paw. She put on her best emergency face and looked quite desperate to go out.

In no time, two humans were there. As they rounded the corner, Lucy had two paws up on the kitchen counter with her nose almost on the turkey.”

Lucy pretends to grab a turkey.

Lucy pretends to grab a turkey.

“Lucy leave it!” one of them shouted while the other let Bella outside. Then they worked together to quickly grab both turkeys and secure them in the oven until it was time to turn on the heat. The people left the room as quickly as they had arrived.

For the turkeys, there was no getting out now.

The turkey without the neck lay helpless in the oven. It hadn’t spoken once and never would. The other looked angry, and shook a wing at Lucy and Bella through the glass.

Its muffled voice could barely be heard as it cursed, “Ohhhhh I HATE Thanksgiving and dogs who sympathize with them people there who do this to us poor turkeys! It isn’t right!”

Lucy just turned her head from side to side as the bird uttered his last breath. She couldn’t wait for the humans to start the cooking, to smell the sweet aroma of not one but two basting turkeys.

And this year it seemed, the turkeys were getting smarter. She would have to remember that for next time.

And the humans were getting smarter too. They bought an extra turkey this time. This was smart because there was never enough to go around for both canines and humans. They would always just give little meat samples to the dogs. Just enough to taste it but not enough for a whole meal.

But not this time. Now, there would be one whole turkey for the people, and one whole turkey for the dogs.

Bella and Lucy looked forward to the feast, and enjoyed watching the turkeys fall asleep on the other side of the glass.

Two turkeys were indeed better than one.

Two turkeys are better than one.

Two turkeys are better than one.



Lucy Gets Stuck in a Storm Drain

This is one of those moments I’m glad I wasn’t there to witness. It all happened in flash and, since I was out of town when it went happened, didn’t even learn about it until I came back. The story is short but heart-pounding.

Pia took Lucy and Bella out to the dog park, something they enjoy almost every day. The park is long and wide and if you didn’t know better, you might think it wasn’t enclosed at all (but it is). There are several small bodies of water, woods, trees, fields, plains, paths, hills and if it is Lucy’s lucky day, a few squirrels as well.

Except on this day, Lucy wasn’t so lucky. She ran with Bella down into a ravine and discovered a shallow storm drain pipe. In all my hundreds of visits to this park I’d never noticed the thing before. In fact, it’s so well camouflaged that I’m not even sure it functions as a drain anymore. Half the large pipe is now filled with earth. And therein lies the problem.

What possessed Lucy to push herself into this tunnel is beyond me, but push in she did. No one but Bella watched her do it so we’re not sure how Lucy made her grand entrance, but by the time Pia found her Lucy was backed all the way into it, facing out. Flattened like a sandwich, paws next to her head on either side. Big brown eyes looking worried.

Bella stood there pointing at the helpless Lucinda.

Pia had spotted Bella then ran over and discovered the scene. “Lucy, how in the world did you get in there???” Pia asked.

Lucy offered no response but stared back at Pia with a frightened look on her face. The girl was really stuck. Pia pushed aside some tumbleweeds and got down on her hands and knees to see how badly wedged in Lucy was. It was quite tight.

She contemplated calling the fire department, but thought she’d make an attempt on her own first. She placed a hand on the back of Lucy’s neck to see if she could be led out, but Lucy was having none of that. In fact, she reacted by scooting back even deeper into the pipe.

Not good.

Pia felt there was enough space for Lucy to get free, versus being hopelessly stuck (in which case the rescuers would indeed need to be called in). So she began tugging both paws gently to pull her out. Lucy didn’t like this and cried a little, but Pia only needed to get those paws extended just a few more inches so she could get a better hold on the elbows.

The paws were moving just fine. Pia crouched down even lower, feeling the tumbleweeds scratch and crumble around her. Pieces went down her back and into her hair. Lucy, she now noticed, was all covered with pieces of tumbleweed as well.

It finally worked. Lucy came sliding out, sulked for a few moments, then forgot about it and ran off with Bella to chase squirrels again. And for the rest of the day and well into the evening, Pia was picking sharp tumbleweed pieces out of her clothing and feeling one pinch after another.

Poor girl said they even made their way into her underwear (ouch!).

We came back the next day and I’m happy to say, the intelligent Lucinda had apparently learned her lesson. We walked with her to the same storm drain and she looked at it and didn’t even think about trying to enter.

Now this marks only the SECOND time Pia has rescued Lucy in the park. No wonder their bond has become so close…

Here are a couple of photos of Lucy and the storm drain (taken the day after her incident). I really am glad I missed this adventure:

Lucy smiles by her tunnel

Lucy smiles by her tunnel

Not going in there again

Not going in there again

Lucy Uses Night Vision to Spot a Fox

Lucy has the best night vision. Many late nights when I take her out into the fenced backyard for evening business, she spots something in the dark that I can’t see. She’ll fixate on something outside the fence line and paw at it, barking and running back and forth. There’s not much lighting beyond our yard, so I always go out with a big flashlight so I can see what’s moving out there.

I don’t usually see much.

When she barks about some unseen night visitor, I shine the light over to where I think she’s looking and sometimes catch a little movement in the bushes. But so far I could never see what she’s looking at.

Until the other night. I shined the light where Lucy was pointing and there it was. A big fox looking back at me. His eyes glowed like bright marbles when the beam hit his face. Lucy was barking and moving back and forth, even more so now that the fox was literally in the spotlight.

I said to the fox: “Psssst. Hey. Fox. Get out of here!”

The fox didn’t say anything, but ran off.

Then I heard our fence rattle and turned the light over to the sound. The fence just finished shaking a little, and I suddenly realized that’s where Bella had been standing. That girl jumped the fence again, something she hadn’t done for quite some time. I guess the fox motivated her to go for it again.

Luckily, the fox was long gone and Bella came right back when I called her. That could have ended ugly.

Lucy enjoyed watching all of this, and calmed down once the fox was away and Bella was back inside.

This also shed some light on why both dogs sniff the ground like crazy each morning when I take them out before the sun rises. Between visiting foxes and packs of coyotes we often hear outside in the middle of the night, I’m sure our ground captures a lot of wild scents. They frantically pace and smell the grass each morning and I always wonder what’s up.Now  I wonder if those coyotes or foxes hop inside our fence at times…

Well, the mountain visitors aren’t going to stop coming by, so I just have to deal with it. Now Bella has been placed on extended leash probation. She’s just too good at fence-hopping and has truly perfected it to an art form. Lucy, who is more than twice her size, still wonders how on earth Bella gets over to the other side.

I’m very thankful Lucy doesn’t jump fences. And that Bella at least listens well to voice commands.

Here are a couple photos of our latest night fox exploration.

Lucy tells me she's ready

Lucy tells me she’s ready

Spotlight on Lucy (so I know exactly where she is)

Spotlight on Lucy (so I know exactly where she is)

Lucy and the Birthday Burger

Lucinda hit the big 3 this week. I was out of town during her actual birthday, which was August 26th. But Lucy was kind enough to forgive me and agree to celebrate on the Saturday following instead. So we did.

She began her celebration by getting her nails done. This is something she does not actually enjoy, so I’d be wrong to call it a gift. But they needed to be done and the quick had grown a little too far into the nails for me to feel comfortable cutting them. So I took her to the pros.

At the store, waiting to get nails done.

At the store, waiting to get nails done.

She did better than ever, not even once crying out for me. I always have to move out of sight during the procedure or she’ll make a big scene. Or worse, use her mind control. But not this time. The nail docs told me she didn’t even resist. And I was listening just outside the door and never heard her, so I believe them.

“Good girl, Lucy,” I told her as we walked back to the truck. “Since you were so brave, would you like to hit the drive thru on the way home?”

That would only be right, came the response.

And so we went. With the windows halfway down, Lucy received compliments from both the fast-good money collector and the food presenter – at both drive thru windows.

On the way home, we shared some fries. She had a burger coming to her and knew it. But that would wait until we got home for two reasons. One, it would be her birthday burger and still needed candles. Two, Bella was getting one also for turning a year old in August (which exact day we’ll never know so she will simply celebrate on Lucy’s special day each year…Bear would want it that way).

Grabbing some fries on the way home.

Grabbing some fries on the way home.

Once we got home, Lucy sported her new nails and sat patiently alongside Bella. Pia ceremoniously lit their burger birthday cake candles, we all sang Happy Birthday, and walked outside to make the presentations.

Birthday burgers

Birthday burgers

Outside on the deck, Pia placed their plates in front of them. Bella attacked hers and it was gone in a flash. Lucy, never satisfied with doing anything the boring old normal way, turned her burger dining into an art form. She licked the top bun first, somehow causing the entire thing to fly into her mouth while the rest of the burger remained on the plate.

It gets even better.

Next, she used her big Leo tongue to lick the underside of the burger, causing just the lower bun to disappear into her mouth (I still don’t know how). Now only the patty remained on the plate. At this point I’m laughing and pointing at Lucy, asking Pia how in the world she did that. Pia smiled, I silently kicked myself for putting away my camera a few moments ago, then watched Lucy make short work of the patty.

Only Lucy can make a show out of having a hamburger. And the whole thing reminded me of the time Lucy and Bear made hot dogs together.

Happy birthday to Dragonslair’s Lovesong Melody’s P Litter, to Lucy, and to Bella.

Lucy and the Cat Smackdown

NO one saw it coming. Not even the cat.

There is an uneasy peace between the cats and dogs in our home. One particular cat, Trinity, has always had a strong dislike of any canine. The other two cats tend to do okay with them, but Trinity always gets into scuffles. She is fearless and eggs the dogs on, too. Taking boldness to a whole new level, Trinity used to attack our German Shepherd every evening. She’d smack him in the nose with her nails fully extended (sometimes causing them to bleed), then he’d go for her with jaws wide open. Back and forth, every night.

Trinity "the Sphinx" Stuller

Trinity “the Sphinx” Stuller

[on a side note, when the Shepherd crossed the bridge, Trinity moped around all sad looking for him. I’ll never figure cats out]

That was all years ago. Fast forward to today.

Trinity is up to her usual tricks. It’s not uncommon to hear her hiss loudly, then the thunderous sound of Lucy giving chase. Lucy, like our previous dogs, only seems to chase Trinity and not the other cats. I think it’s because dogs can sense who doesn’t like them. And they’re not about to take much attitude from a little cat.

Then last night, Lucy broke new ground in the cat/dog dichotomy. I heard Trinity hiss, watched her crouch down low, and then it happened. Lucy gave her a one-paw smack down. Right on the poor cat’s head.

Lucy's weapon of choice

Lucy’s weapon of choice

It happened in a flash. Lucy extended her huge, right Leo paw, spread her webbed edges wide (making her paw appear twice its size), and swatted hard on top of Trinity’s head. Trinity went down even closer to the ground under the crushing blow, then scampered off (with an extra long hissssssss).

I heard my 13 year-old son, Tony, gasp and say “OH my gosh! Mom you should have seen what Lucy just did to the cat!”

My heart froze. There were witnesses.

I ran and slid across the floor on my socks to get a better view of Tony, while staying out of Pia’s field of vision. Our eyes locked and I made the “sword across the throat” gesture with two fingers. Tony stopped in mid-sentence and smiled knowingly at me. He said no more.

But this only increased Pia’s suspicion.

“What did she do?” Pia demanded.

I had to say something. “Nothing to worry about. Trinity was giving Lucy a hard time again,” I replied unconvincingly.

I pet Lucy and advised her not to get caught doing stuff like that. “Psst. Hey. Don’t get busted doing stuff like that, okay?”

No response.

Eventually, the tension passed and Tony and I told Pia what had happened.

I do admire how quick and efficient Lucy whipped that paw out and landed it with deadly accuracy.

Never underestimate a Leo.