Wednesday, November 19, 2008

and here is jim wrestling the anaconda

Jiggs and I went on a country hills adventure last night. The only thing missing was the country -- and the hills. But we made due with what we had.

Around 9, we took off for our evening walk. I tossed my jacket back in the house because it was at least 50 degrees outside. A perfect night walk.

We were only a block from the house when we had our first run in with nature. Fortunately, I saw it before Jiggs did. A young raccoon was foraging through the leaves -- most likely for tasty bugs and worms. He did not look old enough to know how to capture a squirrel dinner. And he knew little of raccoon tactics. All he saw was a human and a giant dog barreling down on him.

He chose wisely by climbing the nearest tree. But he seemed to be torn between flight and attack.

Jiggs never saw him. But he caught the scent of coon in the air. He bit the air in short little bites. If I had not restrained him, I am certain he would have started to run circles to see where the raccoon had gone.

Jiggs's adrenalin was running high enough that he literally pranced through the park. And, as luck would have it, we encountered first an opossum and then a nutria. (I ask you, when did you last have an evening that sounded like a cross between a "went-into-a-bar" joke and a Mexican fable?)

As far as Jiggs was concerned, it was a night of heavenly game. He did not get to pursue any of them (he hardly could with him gamy legs), but he felt as if he had.

Mexico may offer him just as many opportunities for an adventure-filled dog life. He is asleep now, dreaming of a night only Marlin Perkins could have enjoyed.


Islagringo said...

What is a nutrea? I suppose I could google it but I'd rather make you work!

Ah, Wild Kingdom. Remember it well.

jennifer rose said...

Have you forgotten that you still live in the US, where uttering a word like "coon," even if your're referring to raccoon, will get you arrested by the PC police?

Cairelle said...

There are nutria up there? Really? I thought they only hung out down here in Dixie. LOL!

Sounds like a nice walk!

Babs said...

You are such a delightful writer! I can just imagine that trip. Glad the raccoon was smart enough NOT to attack.
I had one fall in the fireplace one time when I lived near NASA. I called the police in Nassau Bay, the community I lived in. The dispatcher said, "Lady is this an emergency?" I said, "IT will be if it jumps on me". She sent a policeman who looked like Don Knotts and he was more afraid then I. He got a broom and swished at it and it ran out the's funny now, not then!
I'm sure Jiggs will be smelling fish and rolling in them, chasing crabs and turtles - all much less dangerous!

Bob Mrotek said...


You have some great new words for your vocabulary cards:

raccoon = el mapache
opossum = la zarigüeya
squirrel = la ardilla

Don't know about the nutrea, however. I think it would be called "una rata grande"..."a big rat" :)

Steve Cotton said...

Wayne -- Nutria (Cairelle added the correct spelling) were the emus of the 1930s through 1950s. Con men convinced the unwary that they could get rich quick by breeding nutria, a semi-aquatic South American rodent that looks like an overgrown muskrat -- with orange front teeth. Lousiana was the big breeding area in the States. But greed knows no borders. There were hundreds of breeders in Oregon when I was young. Once the breeders discovered that nutria were not the path to dining with the Mellons, most were turned loose. They now thrive in Oregon.

Cairelle -- Thanks for correcting my spelling. I forgot to check whether I had the correct vowel. I bet the critters are a real nuisance for your dikes. They undercut our stream banks up here.

Babs -- Thanks for the kind compliment. The only animal in Mexico that Jiggs will need to avoid are the crocs -- and the scorpions -- and some of the snakes. He wll learn.

Bob -- "Una rata grande" may be a compliment for nutria. In Melaque, he is just as likely to run into a cotamundi -- and now I cannot remember the Spanish word.

Steve Cotton said...

Jennifer -- Even though the thought did not enter my post-modern, post-racial mind until you mentioned it, I have checked myself into a reeducation camp where the show trial will begin at 11 AM. I am certain that The Leader will absolve me from all of my sins -- though I will carry the guilt around in a very public sack so that others may be dissuaded from departing from The Way.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes nutria. There are several wetlands around where I live where you can nutria. Behind my dentist office is one of them. I can be sitting in the dentist chair and watch them out the big picture window. Another is by McGrath’s Restaurant where they actually have a sign on their back deck that says not to fed the nutria.

Steve Cotton said...

Jackie -- There were several in the pond in front of our office building. Some of our employees would eat lunch out there. One nutria (affectionately named "Sam") would come up to the park bench and beg for food. Because of damage to the stream bed, the city poisoned them. Not a happy ending.

Anonymous said...

Given what the economy is doing, look for a revival of the nutria craze. Coming soon to a menu near you.

Kim G
Boston, MA
Where apparently nutria don't thrive as the cold gives them frostbite in their tails, which ultimately proves fatal.

Steve Cotton said...

Kim -- I empathize with the nutria. I feel as if I get frostbite in my tail every time I visit Boston in the winter.