What is it about groundhogs?
Despite living in a New Jersey suburb of Manhattan, frequent visitors to our backyard include wild turkeys, deer, raccoons, rabbits, opossums, foxes, chipmunks, squirrels and mice. I call our neighborhood, which backs up to a nature reserve, the South Mountain Reservation “Animal Kingdom.” Lucy, our 4 year-old Labra-Collie rescue, is fascinated by all the animals, but morphs from Interested Observer to Psycho Doggie when groundhogs appear.
A few weeks ago Lucy was languishing in the heat, when she jumped up and made a bee-line down our hill. She chomped down on something furry. I don’t know if she intended to shake the small animal–dare I say?–to death, or if she meant to scare the wits out of it. Either way, it didn’t look good for the baby groundhog.
I raced down the hill, screeching, “Drop it! Drop it! Lucy, STOP IT!” (Yes, I know that rhymes. I write picture books, hon. But, I digress.)
Did Lucy listen? Noooo!
Instead, she proceeded to whip the baby groundhog back and forth like a stuffed toy while the groundhog struggled to free itself and while I chased her around the yard. As I tried to catch Lucy, my youngest daughter watched from the sidelines.
“GET THE LEASH!” I hollered.
In the meantime, I managed to grab Lucy and press on the outsides of her jaw until she dropped the groundhog. My daughter arrived with the leash and dragged her inside.
I approached the poor little rodent, apologizing profusely. Guess what? There were no bite marks or blood! Lucy’s Labrador Retriever “soft mouth” clutch didn’t break any skin. The groundhog, surely in shock, looked at me as if to say, “Thank you for saving my life.”
Despite its probable concussion, I figured it would get the word out to stay away from our yard. Apparently, it didn’t.
Earlier this week, I heard Lucy barking with a high-pitched voice I hadn’t heard before. I ran outside to find her nose-to-nose with an adult groundhog. Again, I did the “Catch-a-Psycho-Doggie” dance. Again, amused bystanders watched from the sidelines. This time, it was my son and hubby laughing as I screamed, “GET THE LEASH!”
After quite a bit of chasing (us chasing Lucy, Lucy chasing the adult groundhog), we caught Lucy and dragged her inside.
Would you believe me if I told you Lucy really is the sweetest little angel, a sponge for affection? Don’t answer that question if you’re a groundhog or a… mailman…truck driver…repairman…motocycle driver…
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