The other morning I found the four youngest children huddled around the back door calling in the stray chihuahua, that continues to live with us, and our teacup poodle.
“Mom, there are big dogs out there, over by Max’s hutch.”
Panic immediately seized me as I imagined large dogs snacking on our smaller canines. This is not what I want to deal with any time, let alone first thing in the morning. I barked for the kids to grab something for me to wield while I slipped on Brynna’s flip-flops that everyone was tripping over trying to get a glimpse through the glass door. In my heart I was wishing Brian was not in the shower so that he could handle this. With a Nerf bat placed in my hand by one of the children, I proceeded out the door in sub-freezing temps wearing a wife beater and pajama pants. There were two German Shepherds who looked like they were fresh out of the police academy and a Chow who hadn’t been groomed in some time. They were circling our rabbit’s home and my presence didn’t seem to deter them. If only Brian knew what was going on and could get the pellet gun, I thought. I hadn’t grabbed it because it’s hidden in our closet and for safety reasons the pellets are housed elsewhere. I wanted it, but this situation demanded immediate action. I began yelling at the dogs waving my bat and hitting it on the ground. They were unfazed by my dramatics. I moved a bit closer demanding they move on and they began to trot off through the field. I had broken the bat during my tirade and so I walked over to the trash can and then circled in the house. I gave the “all clear” when I saw the pack moving in the distance and Keely ran out to comfort Max after such an ordeal. As soon as she reached the hutch, I saw Keely running across the yard and her face spoke of true horror.
“Max is gone! My rabbit is gone,” she screamed.
The dogs had ripped off the rat wire and abducted Max from his cage; Keely witnessed the empty aftermath. She continued to scream at the top of her lungs. Not words, just gut-wrenching wails. Never had I heard such a thing. Ryleigh began bawling and Sadie, in complete oblivion to the dismay at hand, added to the chaos of the moment by fake laughing. I ran in my room enraged and trying to explain to Brian what I was doing as I grabbed a sweatshirt and keys . I wanted to find the owners and tell them that their irresponsible pet ownership had broken hearts. I sped out of my drive and down the dirt road. Once I saw one of the German Shepherds with the lifeless body of our sweet Max dangling from his muzzle, I just wanted our bunny back. There was no way they would enjoy the spoils of this war they had waged. I sped ahead of them and jumped out of my truck. I began yelling at the threesome to “drop it” as the alfalfa farmers looked on. They had thrown rocks at the dogs as they had come close by, but the lead dog still held tightly to Max. I deepened my voice and with determination I descended on the dogs. The moment was David-and-Goliath-esque as I boldly walked forward with prayers. The dog dropped Max and I ran to grab a blanket from the back of the truck, warning them not to approach him again. I ran back and snatched up the lifeless body of my Keely’s pet. My eyes burned with hot tears as I got back in the vehicle to follow the dogs to their owner. They began to head up the road when a wild rabbit darted from a bush into the brush lining the road. I sat there for a few minutes, but their hunger was greater than my determination to have their owners witness my sorrow. I just wanted to get back and hold Keely. And that’s what I did for some time as she cried, wishing her pet was still alive. Jace buried Max that morning in the backyard and Keely and Ryleigh made “moonstones” to adorn his grave. Most of us cried throughout the day as we would remember how much Max loved being out with the chickens, or when we didn’t separate some dinner scraps for him, and again when Sadie chanted, “Max is dead!” repeatedly. I was so frustrated that I didn’t stop the horror for Max or for my kids. After calming down, I told Brian with resolve that I was buying a small gun that weekend and that this was never happening again. I didn’t want to kill anything, but I desired for every stray dog in the neighborhood to fear me and to stay away from all that was mine. I left for work that night melancholy and arrived home to a .22 caliber pellet pistol on my pillow. Ryleigh said, “Do you like your gun? We helped dad pick it out, cuz he said, ‘what Mommy wants, Mommy gets.'”
Yesterday Brynna came running in the house from being in the coop with her chickens. She breathlessly told me there was yet another German Shepherd on the property. I grabbed my gun and pellets. I placed the silver blunt bullet in the chamber, pumped the gun several times, released the safety, lined the dog up in the sight, and taking a deep breath I pulled the trigger. Even though I didn’t hit the dog, Mommy got what she wanted as the sound of the pellet whizzing through the air got him running in the opposite direction. R.I.P Max.