Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Legend of Dexter, Part I

Let me introduce you to Dexter the Wonder Dog.

No, he wasn't named after Dexter the serial killer of criminals. He's been around much longer than that. He was actually named after Dexter, the boy genius.

Anyway, you may recognize him as a Jack Russell Terrier. Not sure how much you know about dog breeds, but this particular strain of terrier was originally bred back in the days of yore by the Parson Jack Russell, hence the name (this isn't getting too complicated for you, is it?).

It turns out that foxes were a huge problem in England back in Master Russell's day, and he needed a dog that would chase foxes, weasels and the like into their burrows and bring them back out or hold them there until they could be dug out. So the dogs had to be fierce, brave and smart, not to mention very athletic with lots of stamina (If you've ever chased a weasel into a hole, you know what I mean).

Our boy Dexter is all of these things. In fact, it is his superior intelligence and athleticism that allows him to do such things as Sit...

... Sit Up ...
... Lay Down ...... Roll Over...... Play Dead ...
... Stand ...... Dance ...... Take a Bow ...
... And even jump through hoops ...
Dog is smart, is what I'm sayin'. And while he's generally good tempered (he especially likes people (unless you're wearing a US Postal Service Uniform, then God help you...)), he has neither love nor patience for rodents roaming around his backyard.

Rabbits are summarily chase out without exception. And normally ubiquitous squirrels in our neighborhood caused him no end of agita as they taunted him from the treetops.

That is until a few weeks ago.

It was a pleasant mid-summer's day. Dexter was on his regular daily patrol in the back yard when he noticed one of the evil gray squirrels sharpening its teeth on our daughter's swing set.

He immediately gave chase, barking like Christian Bale on crystal meth. In a few seconds he had the quarry treed in one of the river birches we have in the yard.

Dexter barked and chased the squirrel from tree to tree for the next couple of hours. Yes, hours. That's why we sometimes call him The Tenacious D. He doesn't give up easily.

Eventually the squirrel made its way back to the wood-frame swing set. Typically, a squirrel will run back and forth across the top ridge of the swing set, working to get Dexter out of position so that it can make a running jump to the chain link fence and escape to the safety of the neighbor's yard.

But not this day. On this day, Dexter was on his game. He had put too much time and effort into chasing this furry offender, and he wasn't about to let him go.

When the squirrel made the leap, Dexter was ready. The rodent hit the ground and Dexter was on him in a flash. Powerful canine jaws immediately clenched on fragile rodent throat.

A few violent shakes of the head and the snap of a spine and it was all over.

The story was relayed to me by my backyard neighbor, who works from home and saw the whole thing (no doubt highly annoyed by the incessant barking, but entertained nonetheless by the exciting ending). He said he saw Dexter carry the carcass and leave it along the south fence line. I looked but couldn't find the remains of the squirrel.

I assumed that Dexter had devoured his hard-earned bounty. But a few days later I found the dead squirrel as I was mowing. It was undefiled by Dexter, aside from a bit of gnawing on its tail. Yes, it was smelly and maggot-infested, but Dexter hadn't eaten so much as an ear.

It was all sport for him. A killing driven by a deep instinctual need to fulfill that for which he was bred.

I should mention also that I haven't seen a squirrel in our back yard since this incident.

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  1. "He immediately gave chase, barking like Christian Bale on crystal meth." That's hilarious!! What a good dog you have.

  2. He's just doing what comes naturally. But now that he's got a taste for it, there's no going back. Not surprised he didn't eat it; but if he's around very young kids, I'm sure you know now that you've got to watch out. Cute pup--I like him! Those are smart little dogs.

  3. Smart & good looking! The pup!!!


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