Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
UNDERSTANDING SASSIE, Ch. 8 "Hunting"
As the cold spring rains turned into the
dry heat of summer, Goldie’s puppies grew larger and stronger. Each day, Mom continued to teach us lessons
in listening with our eyes. I knew that
I was Mom’s best student. Mom would
always tell me, “Sassie, you need to pay attention!” I liked learning a new skill.
The prey knowledge was an important
survival skill. Mom taught us the parts
of the predatory sequence which began with the eyes, then the stalk, then the
chase, followed by the bite, then kill, and finally dissect. I had already been using my eyes to scan the
areas around me.
If I saw something
interesting, I seemed to automatically stare intensely at the object. My body shifted my weight onto my front toes. My ears were pricked forward, and at this
time I might do a prey bow. Sometimes I
would get small, walk quietly, and perform a stalking movement toward my
intended target, before I did the prey bow. The Prey Bow is the position I take just before I case my victim. My back legs are
tense and ready to push me forward. My
elbows do not touch the ground and my front legs are braced. All my muscles are ready for action.
I would then spring into a chase. During the chase my head would be lowered, my
ears pricked, and I would have an intense fixed gaze on my target. Other than the capture of my prey, the chase
was the most exciting part of the hunt.
When I attacked my victim, I would give it an additional shake to kill
it. These hunting skills were needed if
we were to survive. Sometimes I would
lay in wait and patiently watch a rabbit hole, but more often I would sniff out
or search the area for our food. We
needed to hunt for food in the wooded area we called home.
One day as we were hunting we saw an
animal that stood on two feet. Mom told
us that this animal was a man. She
warned us that man was a danger and should be avoided. We practiced hiding whenever we came upon
Mom had noticed that I would ignore
caution whenever I was curious about something.
She would often warn me about this dangerous practice. I tried to do as she taught and made every
effort to listen to my mom, but I wanted to know more about the animal called
man. I saw little reason to fear
man. They moved slowly and looked
safe. They made enough noise, so I
always knew whenever they entered the wooded area.
I made sure that I was well hidden as I
watched two men come through an area of the woods. I did notice that one man was taller and
fatter than the other. They were
carrying sticks that I later called “thunder sticks.” These sticks made a loud sharp crack like the
sound of thunder. If I saw man carrying
a thunder stick, I would always move further into the woods to hide, not
because of Mom’s advice, but because the loud noise scared me.
Exploring one day, I had traveled a great
distance into the woods. That was when I
discovered a dirt road. As I walked down
this road, I saw a large hole that seemed to go deep under one side of the
road. I looked into this hole and saw
what looked like some light and dirt a distance from where I stood. Carefully, I moved into the hole and crawled
to the area of dirt and light. When I
crawled out into the light I looked around.
I then realized that I had crawled under the dirt road. What a
great hiding spot, I thought.
That was when I heard a loud rumble. I leaped into the hole and crouched back away
from the entrance. The noise became very
loud, and I felt a vibration that was scary.
The rumble quickly grew softer and turned into a quieter sound. The vibration seemed to slowly disappear. As I crawled out of the hole I could see that
something on the road had created a fog of dust.
I realized that my hiding spot was not
only good but a safe spot as well.
Knowing I had a safe spot to hide in, I decided to look beside the road
and investigate the interesting smells.
I did not wish to wander too far from my safe hideout, but the scent
reminded me of food, so I moved forward.
That is when I discovered the black
skin. I pounced on it and the black skin
split open to reveal some food scraps. I
gobbled the food and decided that this black skin held good things to eat. I looked to see if I could find another such
skin and was rewarded several times in my search.
As I returned to my hideout, I heard
another loud rumble. This time I decided
that I wanted to see what created this noise, so I did not go very far into the
hole. The vibration and noise seemed to
stop quickly. As I slowly looked out of
my hide-away, I could see a man walking from a large metal object. He stopped for a moment and threw one of
those black skins into the woods. He
hopped back into the metal thing. I heard
the loud noise start, and his metal object moved away from me. I realized that man came with this metal
object, and that this was what had caused the dirt fog.
With her permission, I will be serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through amazon.com: