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A cat, a snake, a varmint and eight dogs


LUFKIN, TEXAS -- The last few days, we have had a cat on the roof, a snake in the swimming pool and something -- I'll never know what -- under the refrigerator.

Good thing I have eight dogs. Just one or two would have been terribly overworked, attending to all of that.

The cat -- my wife's yellow boy cat named Bob because of his bobbed tail -- finally came down off the roof after she spent a half hour or so calling to him.

This was early in the morning, and she was standing out in the yard in her night gown. "Come on, Bob," she cooed. "Come to me, Bob. Come to mama, Bob." Never mind that one of our next-door neighbor fellows is named Bob.

No matter. The dogs enjoyed the spectacle. Anything involving duress for a cat is fine entertainment for a dog.

The snake in the swimming pool was another matter. Dogs take snakes seriously. So does my wife. She immediately came and told me there was a snake in the swimming pool.

"What am I supposed to do?" I asked.

"You're the man," she said.

So it is. She's the woman. She handles the money. I'm the man. I handle the snakes.

It was a very small, very sick snake. What kind of snake, I don't know. I would guess green garter snake, but I'm not so sure it was green before it went for a swim in my pool. That's something I need to do, check the chlorine level.

Snagging the sick snake

I used a long-handled mesh dipper to snag the snake, and then deftly flung it over the fence. The dipper came as part of the pool equipment, and I've been wondering what it was for. Some things about the pool the previous owners forgot to mention.

It was later in the evening that I happened to notice that all eight dogs were cautiously advancing on the refrigerator, sniffing and growling. It's lucky that we have eight dogs in the house for just such an emergency. There are people, I suppose, who don't have eight dogs in their house. I wonder how they get by.

With eight dogs coming and going, the back door to the kitchen is left open much of the time. They like it that way. So do the folks who sell me electricity for air conditioning. I figured some variety of varmint must have come in during the night, took refuge under the refrigerator and now was caught with no way out.

Drawing on my earlier experience, I knew exactly what to do. Unfortunately, the dipper wouldn't fit over the refrigerator.

I moved the refrigerator away from the wall, and the dogs moved in. What I saw was stomach-churning. Have you ever looked behind your refrigerator? Don't.

But no varmint -- though, curiously, a portion of the grate behind the refrigerator appeared to have been pried back in such a manner as to create a small hole, not quite large enough to accommodate the noses of eight dogs at one time.

Moreover, the refrigerator was now making a noise that was not the ice maker. So, what am I dealing with? Field mouse? Cobra?

Something had to be done. After all, I am the man. I did what any man would do. I went to bed. And sometime during the night, the varmint went out the back door after the dogs went to sleep. Right now I would trade all eight of them for one good mongoose.

Joe Murray, editor-publisher emeritus of the Lufkin (Texas) Daily News, is senior writer for Cox Newspapers.

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