Now referred to as The Ed, since he is fully grown and less inclined to spend his leisure hours chasing himself and exploring certain of his physical aspects as a matter of curiosity, whereas he now does so with a strong sense of purpose, he has evolved into the hunting dog he was born to be.
Even though his genetic composition seems to have been produced by throwing dog chromosomes in a blender, The Ed’s dominant characteristic is North Carolina squirrel dog, otherwise known in canine circles as a “feist.”
A feist, for those who don’t know, and that would include us, is a small specially bred dog that is used by people who eat squirrels to hunt them. Personally, I don’t eat squirrels (anymore, since as a native of the Eastern Shore it’s a requirement to stew and consume at least one to get your driver’s license) having realized some years ago that they’re little more than rats in cocktail dresses.
But what being a feist means for The Ed is that while all dogs will stop whatever they’re doing to chase a squirrel for fun – “Timmy’s in the well! Must save Timmy, must save … SQUIRREL!” – this is what he does for a living.
In other words, the self-imposed terms of his employment dictate that he wouldn’t care if Timmy had fallen down the barrels of the Guns of Navarone and was about to become a projectile aimed at advancing allied forces: “Call the Red Cross. I’m working here, okay?”
As dedicated as he is to his occupation, The Ed is constantly running out to update the squirrel census and to notify us on his return that, thanks to his diligence, we remain out of danger.
Just recently, however, following a major bark-infused ruckus, the sounds of fierce scuffling, resolute sniffing and impassioned clawing, he returned to the back door nearly hyperventilating.
Flashlight in hand, I went out to investigate and from the fringes of the ornamental grass bordering the house there emerged one seriously wobbly, albeit testy, opossum. I might add that this was not just an ordinary opossum, but the Godzilla of opossums. A big boy, as it were.
Now, The Ed is a changed dog. He can’t sleep, he paces, he whines, he constantly looks over his shoulder and out the window, his eyes are bleary and he eats so rapidly that the pantry doors bear ricochet marks from flying pellets of Purina. He is consumed and now he won’t let us sleep either. It has reached the point that we are considering seeking professional help and sending The Ed to ‘possum rehab.
I talked to him about it, but all I could get out of him was, “I don’t know what to tell you, but that was the biggest damn squirrel I’ve ever seen.”