possums have been showing up for two days now. not literally, but possum chatter abounded within 15 hours of each instance, which reminded me of a dog-sitting gig that almost did me in.
i was teaching at st. gregory’s in maryville, and i used to do a lot of pet-sitting. mostly cats as they are easy. mary jane powell, who taught 3rd grade (i still fly back to have her husband as my eye doctor) asked if i would dog sit for their two little pomeranians (very cute they were)…said they were easy, that one took pills, but took them in butter with no problem. i met with them the day before they left and they showed me the food, the pills, said to just let them out back through the sliding glass door as the back yard was fenced in, easy. no walking, just pills, food, snuggles, and let out the back every 7-8 hours.
first night i go over. dog takes pills easily in butter my ass. he knew it was pill time. i globbed on a heap of butter. no dice. that little sucker ran away again and again. finally i cornered him and did the cat pill trick where you get it in their mouth, clamp their mouth shut, and massage the throat until they swallow. smh. they get fed, i refill water. it is fall, so not warm out, but no snow yet. i go to let them out the back and the sliding door falls off. completely off. shit. really?? but dogs have gone out and i decide to flip on outside light to keep track of them. i am greated by two dogs my size. yep, talk about freaking out. i am sure i screamed. mary jane had failed to tell me they had two outdoor dogs that had self-feeders and water. chows i think. all i know is they were large and i had no idea they would be there staring me down (now i always ask clients if there are other animals i need to know about–it so seems like a silly question, and i’m sure people think i’m nuts). broken door and two extra dogs. great. little dogs come in and i finally after about 20 minutes get the door jimmied so it is shut and hopefully locked to the outside world.
next morning. 6 am before school. go to let dogs out again. door comes off again. and dogs (all four) are all in the middle of the yard gathered around something. i go down to investigate. dead possum. shit. i get all the dogs (amazingly they were just gathered around. no one trying to eat, tug, nudge the possum–just staring and sniffing) away from the possum and the two little ones inside. figure i will find a garbage bag to put the possum in. i return outside and……no possum. i had totally forgot they “play dead”. kinda glad i didn’t pick up the possum before and had waited. very glad actually. in hind-sight it is kinda cool to think about. possum pulled one over on the dogs…and me.
and when the powells returned…oh, yeah, that door always comes off. guess we should have warned you…oh, we didn’t mention the other dogs? well, they do take care of themselves. we only needed you for the little ones.
on a different note, my aunt in california called frantic one night because she spotted an “armadillo” in her yard in corona del mar (newport beach). no way. turns out it was a possum. she didn’t know the difference. sometimes i would send her pictures and label them so she wouldn’t make that mistake again. one of our little secret laughs. oh possum.