Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Furry Face of Death

Lily Dog
Originally uploaded by Martina
Pets can be really delightful. It's one of the reasons I seem to get suckered into adopting every stray that lands on my doorstep. They are good company, they love unconditionally. Studies have even shown that they lower blood pressure (though I always have to think that actually enjoying animals has to play a required role in there somewhere for it to work - otherwise they'd just be an annoyance). Sure, they sometimes lose their furry little minds and chew up a favorite pair of shoes and lord knows they can drive a person up a wall with their innate ability to somehow make their ten pound frames take up 2/3 of a queen sized bed. Over all, though, they are on my short list of things in life that make me happiest.

But, then, there are those times when they are just plain gross.For example, this morning, when I heard a muffled bark outside the screen door and found Lily standing there bright eyed, ears erect, carriage proud as she begged to be let in with the special prize she found in the garden. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that she was brandishing not a chew toy, but a dead sparrow.

After being denied entry to the family manor and turning down a trade of some barbequed pork that came with last night's traditional Independence Day Chinese takeout, she took to wandering the garden with her precious. At some point, just carrying the bird somehow morphed into chewing. The precious had been deemed delicious enough to eat. Lily and the precious are now one.

So now, I not only share my home with a killer, but one with the foul stench of house sparrow on her breath. This is doubly disturbing after having hand raised Nelson, Jimbo and Johnny (may he rest in peace) a couple of summers ago. I can only hope this sparrow was not a relative.

The American Kennel Club describes the papillon as "a small, friendly, elegant toy dog of fine-boned structure, light, dainty and of lively action; distinguished from other breeds by its beautiful butterfly-like ears.". NOWHERE do they mention "murderer of sparrows" or "enjoys eating young birds' livers with some fava beans and a nice chianti".

Technically, papillons are a kind of miniature spaniel and spaniels were bred as hunting dogs, so I guess it can't be completely unexpected. That still doesn't remove the "ewww" factor, though. Now she has acquired a taste for feathers, I fear the killing will not end here. No more wearing my purple feather boa and plumed showgirl headdress to bed. I will sleep with one eye open. The worst part is that she is probably just charming enough to get away with it, because in the immortal words of Bart Simpson: "No one suspects the butterfly."

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