On a warm fall day last week, I breathed in the intoxicating smell of burning leaves. With baby Gertrude snug in her crib for an afternoon nap, 6-year-old Raymond, 4-year-old Anne and I were free to explore the backyard.
First, I needed to “clean up” the unpleasant piles of excrement in the grass before the children slid instead of ran while playing tag.
The kids, busy on our paver patio, played in the sandbox and examined withering plants. Across the yard, I gagged, scooping waste and holding my breath, trying to finish my job as quickly as possible. I longed to smell the burning leaves again and rake the beautiful colors strewn across the grass.
As the sun brightly shone on our innocent fall scene, I noticed our dog, Cooper, nosing around in the corner of the yard. A lover of sticks, I assumed our Newfoundland/Lab mix was selecting a new favorite branch to choke on and went back to my gross chore.
“Bridge, bridge, bridge,” sang Anne behind me. “You are making a beautiful bridge.”
Through the “bridge song” I heard the jingling of Cooper’s collar, which only meant trouble. Cooper is a laid-back dog at home, so any extra sound from him usually meant a mischievous act.
A rapid knocking on our fence sent me standing straight, on alert. Ears perked, I looked at the fence in front of me, expecting to see my neighbor through the slats, but this knocking was not that of a human.
The rapid rattling of Cooper’s collar brought my heart into my throat as I spun around to find a rabbit in Cooper’s mouth, beating the dog's face senseless with soft fluffy boxing gloves. The rabbit’s feet were making the knocking sound and as it tap danced against the fence, my jaw dropped at the turmoil in front of me.
“WHAT IS THAT?” Raymond said, squinting at the scene.
“That’s Thumper,” said my animal loving daughter, Anne.
In an instant, I was leaping like a gazelle to the fence, screaming “Drop it, Cooper! DROP IT!” Crossing the patio, I tripped over the brick “bridge” my son was making and crashed to the ground.
Cooper, did indeed, drop the rabbit and looked at me like a confused doofus. Deciding the laws of nature ruled over my human command, Cooper quickly snatched up the rabbit again.
Thumper screamed (I kid you not) as I wrestled its furry body out of Cooper’s slimy mouth. Finally making an escape, Thumper squeezed through the fence as I lay tangled with the dog among the red and orange fall leaves.
I turned to face my scarred children, mentally preparing my explanation that Cooper wanted to play with the rabbit, not really eat it, to find Anne playing in the sandbox and Raymond smiling at me.
“Did you see how I saved that rabbit from Cooper?” Raymond declared in dramatic fashion. “I ran over there and snatched the rabbit from his mouth.”
As Raymond stood admiring “his” life saving handy work, I ruffled his hair in exhaustion and simply replied, “Good job, buddy.”
I collapsed on the ground to gather myself and just as I started to take a breath, Gertrude cried through the baby monitor. A sigh was all I could exhale and laughing, chalked up another interesting day of being a mother...