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My 'tail' of manly heroism - dealing with nature with the family as audience

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A Chihuahua
You just know your day isn’t going to get off to a great start when you are awoken by your spouse shouting, “OHMYGODGETDOWNHERERIGHTNOWOHMYGOD!” at the top of her lungs.

You run past the full coffee pot that contains the elixir so desperately needed to face the world so that you can address the unfolding emergency in the back yard.

Your Chihuahuas, those pint sized dogs with the courage and attitude of Rottweilers, have their yipping little barks drowned out by the most blood-curdling clicks and screeches imaginable. You try rubbing the sleep from your eyes, squinting hard to see what has their attention at the fence.

Sophie, the brown dog, boldly approaches the edge of your property and bites into the bushy tail wedged in between two tight slats of your wooden fence. She flails her head from side to side violently, her eyes overcome with bloodlust, determined to remove the tail from the skeleton of whatever the hell is on the other side of the fence.

This begins a  more vigorous stream of clicks and protests from the animal, who is understandably upset and annoyed that another four legged creature is devouring the base of its spine.

Our hero hastily hopscotches over the piles of dog excrement that his girls swore up and down that they were going to pick up this weekend to get to the action. The dogs are shooed away and then snatched up and unceremoniously dumped.

I’m now left alone, not only with the back end of a battered and bloodied wounded animal of unknown species, but with my own inadequacies as well.

My Athenry-born father married a gal from Limerick, both good farming stock that combined have probably killed more chickens and pigs for their own survival than there are stars in the sky. Heck, they have also slaughtered enough predatory foxes in the family henhouses to make coats for the entire Lakers basketball team!

Here I am, the flaming Yank Narrowback, so far removed from that murderous lineage that I find myself getting lightheaded with each step toward the tail.

In all likelihood, the dogs chased this thing through the fence and the tail got snagged. As the dogs tussled with it, the animal pulled harder, hopelessly wedging it farther up the slats between the wooden fence posts.

I looked over the fence, first to see what species I was dealing with, and then to catch the eye of the state trooper next door who might be running out the door on his way to work.

I’m so disgusted with myself, desperately seeking a real man to help this damsel in distress with his shamrock pajama bottoms and matching t-shirt. No, it was time to pull on the big-boy pants and take care of this like a man! 


I dashed into the shed, unhooked the handle of the spade from the nail that it hung on, and approached the tail one more time. Like lancing a boil, I charged at it, bringing my full weight down on the tail and freeing it from its wooden wedge.

The animal, dazed from the shock of it all, slowly slithered under the fence and clawed toward freedom in the neighbor’s yard. I still don’t know what manner of creature it was and I’m not sure if it survived, but I was clear that it wasn’t my problem any longer.

My bravery took my wife and daughters by surprise.

“You took care of it yourself?”

“You didn’t have to call Pop-Pop (editor’s note: that’s my dad) down for this? Really?”

News of the adventure made it over to the fence of the state trooper, an avid hunter, who calls me “Squirrel Killa” every time he has met me on the lawn ever since.

They can say what they want. I know I grabbed the situation by the tail when I needed to . Sorry, couldn’t resist.

(Mike Farragher’s collection of funny essays can be found on www.thisisyourbrainonshamrocks.com)

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