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What would you do to save someone you love from injury? What if that someone was your dog?
I have shared the half-century of my life with nine very loving and loyal dogs. Skye, our five-year-old Siberian husky, is my tenth. I have treated all our dogs as if they were one of my children. My son thinks they are treated better than him. I know Skye eats better than he does now that he lives on his own.
My wife and I live on four acres. About half our land is heavily wooded with a creek. As one might imagine it is somewhat of a nature preserve around here. It isn’t uncommon to see herds of deer (up to seven deer at once) running and grazing beyond our dog fence. Unlike our four Alaskan malamutes, Skye has never been a hunter. She just stares with indifference at the passing deer. She even refuses to disturb her sleepy repose when a curious fawn, even shorter than herself comes nosing around her fence. When we had malamutes, the silence of the midnight hours was often disturbed by their loud barking as they trapped and killed some night wanderer, typically a possum. Whenever this happened, I would normally try to get them to come in before the awakened neighbors called the police. If they refused to come in, I let them have their bloody feast and cleaned up the mess in the morning. I rarely worried about the malamutes. I’d seen them fight on countless occasions. They were born hunters and killers. The only adversary that has ever worried me is the raccoons we have around here. I had one trapped in our garage attic before, and after hearing stories of raccoons attacking and severely injuring people, I just called Critter Control and left the growling, hissing monster for them to handle.
About a month ago, I was eating my bedtime sandwich at three in the morning when Skye, who was outside taking care of business, erupted with some very uncharacteristic barking. I turned on all the outside lights before rushing to get her back in. I found her sitting at the base of a tree, staring into the branches. She ignored my commands to come. All I got was a nasty stare which was to say, “What do you want, Dummy? I ain’t commin’ in. I got something treed.”
After a few four-letter superlatives regarding her training and character, I started to go in. Apparently Skye feared missing out on as sandwich corner, a sure thing, and decided to let her chance meal escape. She came trotting after me. As soon as she left the tree base. Something large and dark scrambled down the tree trunk. The chasse was on. The thing hissed and growled at Skye before racing by toward the patio. Whatever it was, it was roughly half her size, fast and sounded mean. Based on its size and shape, I knew what it was immediately, a raccoon. Skye chased the raccoon onto the patio before it disappeared beneath a low-hanging cover of a patio chair.
By now my sleepy wife was outside wondering what was happening. I told her Skye had cornered a raccoon and she needed to go get my baseball bat from the basement. While she questioned my intensions, Skye stuck her head beneath the chair cover before retreating with several high-pitched yelps of pain. Fearing our husky might lose one of her beautiful blue eyes, an ear, if not her entire nose, I raced for the basement for my Louisville Slugger. I returned to find Skye and the raccoon barking at each other, but maintaining their positions. My terrified wife had retrieved the house broom, but showed no sign of getting involved. She was the smart one. I tried repeatedly to lure Skye back into the house, but she wasn’t having any of it. She had her kingdom to protect.
I decided no one was leaving until the confrontation was resolved, so I poked the bat beneath the chair cover, hoping to get the raccoon to leave. That just pissed it off more. After attacking the end of the bat, the raccoon tried to flee in the opposite direction. Skye pounced on it, grabbing it by the neck. I was still terrified the raccoon would free itself from Skye’s hold and injure her. So while she kept the ornery bastard pinned, I beat the bloody snot out of it with the bat while feeling no remorse or pity. Eventually, the thing quit hissing and growling at us. Skye gave it one final shake before retreating.
My wife rushed inside, claiming to be ill. We eventually got Skye in to clean out two deep bites in her nose which are now healing, but will scar her forever. The following morning, I picked up the bloodied body of a forty-to-fifty-pound female raccoon. It was well over half Skye’s size. We took Skye into the vet’s to get a rabies booster, but we’re keeping her inside late at night. Where there’s one raccoon there are more.
So my question remains. What would you do to save you love from injury? Was beating that possibly rabid raccoon to death animal cruelty?