I admit, the whole incident was probably my fault. I’d let the herbs overgrow a bit too much because I just didn’t feel like dealing with them. Even though I usually keep a tidy garden, and an eye on those wayward mint roots and the sneaky grass weeds, the abundance of herbs has been overwhelming. As it turns out, it’s a good idea to keep things trimmed on a regular basis, because you never know what will decide to take residence among the overgrowth. When you have a garden, some creatures are to be expected, and even welcomed, and others, well, not so much.
So it happened one morning, as I looked out the window to the backyard, I spied Hiro, our dog and self-appointed garden monitor, chewing away on something that hung from both sides of his mouth. I opened the back door, realized he had a small rodent, and immediately shut the door as he headed my direction. I reviewed my options. My husband was at work; I was the sole responsible party. Lucky me. I grabbed a plastic grocery bag and a paper towel, went back outside, and began negotiations to retrieve the rodent. Hiro refused, respectfully, and hid the entire thing in his mouth. I stood and waited, pleading with him to “drop it.” Since it’s hard to stay still for long with a small rodent in your mouth, every so often Hiro re-distributed its position within his jaws, giving a brief glimpse of a head or a tail, and evidence that he actually had something in his mouth. It was hard not to laugh at his determination while demanding his obedience, and if anyone was watching, they probably enjoyed the free show of the stand-off between dog and human.
Eventually, while he moved it around again, the rodent’s head emerged from Hiro’s mouth. I took my opportunity, and with the paper towel I grabbed its head with one hand while carefully inserting the fingers of my other hand (protected by the plastic grocery bag) on either side of Hiro’s jaw to get him to let go. There was no way I was directly touching that rodent. Finally, Hiro relented, and I quickly bagged the prize. As I put the bag in the trash, I thought to myself, aside from the lengthy negotiation process, that wasn’t so bad, and I went inside, while Hiro stayed in the backyard.
If you grew up watching television, you might have seen the commercial whose tag line was “you can’t eat just one.” While it’s true that Hiro likes to watch martial arts action movies on television, he’s way too young to have seen that commercial. Nonetheless, that tag line is his creed, and the creed of most every dog out there. Also true is that where there is one rodent, there is another, and another, and another. By the end of the adventure, Hiro had retrieved a total of four furry creatures from a nest burrowed beneath the oregano, and after giving each a thorough chewing, eventually surrendered his prized possession. In point of fact, by the third rodent, we had a little system going: retrieve, chew, drop, bag, repeat.
After all the excitement, I felt pretty good that I’d remained calm in the face of handling multiple vermin. That is, until the mother of all garden spiders emerged from the oregano while I was watering it, which I’d just trimmed with my bare hands. I’m sorry for what I said in the midst of my shock and awe, but you might’ve said it too. Though I know spiders are my garden’s friends, they’re definitely not my friends. I guess the one with real courage was the single-minded little dog just doing his job while watching the garden.
Good boy, Hiro.