Playing Possum

I mentioned in the Alice’s Restaurant post that I had found a possum under the trash bag and you should remember that because he had a story, too. Here is the pile of trash, as photographed from the hood of Dave’s truck:

It’s a really bad photo but that’s OK. You probably aren’t that interested in the trash, anyway. I’m just trying to give you the whole sensory experience. Now that you know what I saw, let me go through the other senses. I was wearing gloves and the dampness was soaking through the finger. The trash, not surprisingly, smelled like trash. It wasn’t awful, some bags only had baby cloths in them so it wasn’t like a the rusted out cans of rotting menudo that were in the last pile of trash. The dogs thought the trash smelled delicious and kept nosing through it. I assumed they were just being gross trash hounds and kept shooing them away as I was going through the bags, looking for evidence. I was so fixated on catching the “perp” (no, we still don’t use that word in real life, despite what you may have learned on the Andy Griffith Show) that I didn’t clue into the fact that the dogs were not just being trash hounds, they were hunting. Dog have a particular way about them when they hunt. I looked for an educational video on You Tube but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t gory. Anyway, I was too busy rifling through the trash to notice that they were returning to the same bag and trying to get under it. I didn’t notice until I saw they were slobbering, a sure sign that they were nose deep in varmint. that’s when I heard it, a soft, low hiss.

My Barney Fife elation came to a screeching halt. I love animals but I do not like hissing from unknown sources. The hissing was clearly coming from the underside of the trash bag so I hitched up my big girl panties and turned over the bag to see what sort of critter fun awaited me.

Fierce creature! That tiny possum baby could have fit in one hand and it was exactly the size hour d’oeuvre that Dutch Shepherds prefer. It was the middle of the day and he clearly didn’t want to be unearthed. He was small but knowing nothing about possums, I figured he could probably take care of himself. So I set the trash bag back down over him and called-off the dogs. We were on a mission to catch the trash dumper and had no time for Wild Kingdom.

We went back to the ranch the next day and I couldn’t stop thinking about the possum. The more I thought about him, the more I was sure he was too young to be on his own. And I know he’s a possum and I think they always look sickly, he seemed weak. Again, I knew nothing about possums, so I was really just making things up. I decided I would gather my canine companions and walk down to see it the possum was still around. He was. In fact, he was exactly where I had left him the night before but now the trash had been picked up and there was nothing to shelter him from the sun. It doesn’t take a possum expert to know that is not acceptable behavior for a nocturnal animal and he had been in the same place for 24 hours, which seemed weird. I was concerned he was injured so I put on my gloves, hoping he wouldn’t bite me (I’m a little bit gun-shy about being bitten ever since I unleashed the unholy terror that was Ballsy) and picked him up. Thankfully, true to form, he played possum. I carried him back to the house, photographed him and fixed up a five gallon bucket for him to lounge in, with a deluxe bark house that he could hide under. If you’re going to have a catch and release program, you should always take photos so you can blog about it later. Then we forgot about him.

We didn’t remember him until we were about to go home. It was already dark and we weren’t sure who would come pick up a possum in the dark, on a Sunday night. Monterey County SPCA has a wild life program so we called them. The answering service put us through to whomever was on call. I wish I got her name because she was very nice. She said she would be right out but her ETA was 30 minutes. Since it was already dark and we were starving, we told her the possum would be in a bucket on the side of the house and she could fetch him there. I’m sure she wishes she had a nickel for every time she’s heard that. And that was the last I thought we would hear about the possum. I’m not really a following-up type of person.

But it’s never over when you think it’s over is it? Creepy rodent like mammals have their way of creeping back into your life. Just like ex-boyfriends. Kidding, I like most of my ex’s and not one of them is rodent like. We have people on the inside at the SPCA. Dave is the farrier for all of those horses so when he was out there, he sent one of the volunteers in search of the possum. She said she was going to find him at the facility and when she did, she was going to call us and ask for permission to release the possum back on the property. I suppose, I’m alright with that. He has every right to be there and with 36 acres, I’m sure we can find some space for him. I just want to wait until he’s big enough that the dogs won’t try to snack on him.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Jules on May 5, 2011 at 18:44

    better alive than dead right? well i’m a sucker for animals(mostly the wild ones) and it just doesn’t make any sense how a tiny possom eneded up under all that garbage and still be alive.


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