Most people have to set alarm clocks to wake them up during the week. Most people like to turn said alarm clocks off on the weekends. Therefore, most people do not find themselves breaking up an unexpected dog and possum meeting gone awry at 6:30AM on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately, I am not most people.
My alarm clock is Indy, a gigantic Great Pyrenees mix. Indy does not have an off button. When he is awake, he thinks you should be too. On Saturday, he decided that I should be awake at 6:23AM. He pounced on my bed, plopping all 95 pounds of himself ever so gently on top of my head, emitting high-pitched yips that a dog his size really shouldn’t be capable of making. Clearly, someone had to go potty and like a toddler had to GO RIGHT NOW.
Usually I get my wake up call closer to 7AM so I dragged my groggy self down the stairs and escorted my joyfully wriggling “bestest buddy in the whole wide world” into the car for his daily morning run. (To be clear, he runs, I drive. Every morning I am the chauffeur of a four-legged athlete who aspires to one day run as fast as the deer he chases.) Usually I drive at 20mph for two miles before Indy decides he is tired enough to get back in the car.
There was nothing usual about Saturday morning.
I had only driven about 500 yards when I realized that Indy wasn’t galloping along beside me. Instead, he had run into the middle of the nearest soybean field. He was bouncing up and down. His tail was wagging. It looked like he was playing with his favorite piggy toy. Of course, there are no squeaky dog toys in soybean fields. I pulled a U-ey and sped towards my buddy, praying that he hadn’t tracked down a copperhead snake. By the time I jumped out of the car, Indy had abandoned play mode and gone on the attack, barking fiercely and lunging at something that I still couldn’t see. I raced through the beans. There it was: a hissing white face and a long, naked tail. My dog had met a possum and it was not love at first sight.
I quickly realized that the trick would be to drag Indy away from Ol’ White Face without either of us being bit. I shrieked and hollered to no avail. My dog was not about to walk away from a fight and the possum was fighting for his life, weaving through the beans with teeth bared. So I joined in their crazy dance, attempting to grab Indy’s whirling tail. For a dog in the middle of a do-or-die battle he was unusually adept at curling his tail just out of my reach. The dog, the possum and I were a sight to behold but of course, no one else was awake to see it.
Finally, I realized that my best shot at nabbing Indy was to wait for the possum to play dead. Sure enough, a few minutes later Indy pinned the possum to the ground and Ol’ White Face curled up in a motionless ball. Indy froze and leaned over the apparently dead marsupial, panting heavily. I snuck up behind him and grabbed his collar.
Hauling 95lbs of adrenaline-charged dog back to the car wasn’t easy but my own adrenaline was pumping. I shoved Indy into the backseat, slammed the door, and about went limp with relief. No one needed a rabies shot and Ol’ White Face would live another day.
On the ride home I attempted to give Indy a stern talking to about fighting with possums but his eyes glazed over and he just stuck his head on my shoulder. Couldn’t I tell that he had been protecting me the whole time? I gave up, rolled down the window, and let my best buddy enjoy the early morning breeze, ears and slobber flying.
Indy, my fierce protector.