In part 1 of our Hurricane Irma shaggy dog stories, I described how our temporary charge Jesse, a large Golden Doodle, and I almost ended up in jail. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse …
There are many reasons why I am not a dog person and one reason is that dogs love to eat garbage and the more rotten the garbage, the more they seem to like it. I have seen dogs eat some revolting stuff and watched as their owners then let them lick their faces. What!
Compared to an island mutt, the famed coconut retrievers, a Golden Doodle appears refined, posh, however, Jesse is an expert at finding and eating rotten garbage, and following hurricane’s Irma and Maria, there was certainly plenty of it to go at.
The rather delicate Jesse might love garbage but garbage certainly doesn’t love Jesse, it makes her vomit and have diarrhea. Lovely, when you have to clean it up while trying not to empty the contents of your own stomach, which Jesse would immediately love to gobble down as dessert.
Of all the garbage she loves to eat, rotten meat, preferably on the bone, is Jesse’s all-time favorite. She can sniff out moldy bones from ten yards away. Over the time we looked after her and walked her on a leash, I studied her body language and recognized the signs when she’d caught scent of a delightful morsel of rancid crap.
In the early days, she would run, nose down, jaws open, and scoop her target off the ground and immediately start crunching.
Now the last thing you need while dealing with the devastation wrought by a 200mph hurricane is a sick dog. For a start, my Jeep had been destroyed and even if I could find a vet, I had no means of getting her there. A Golden Doodle has powerful jaws and forcing them apart to fish out crap isn’t easy. To make things worse, Jesse has been known to snap at you if she’s not getting her own way.
We had several battles over the garbage in her mouth, I won a few but not all.
And then the wily Jesse changed her tactics. Instead of charging at her target, she’d slip into doggy stealth mode, totally ignoring the garbage until it was at her feet and then, like lightning, snapping it up.
Winning food fights meant my hands were covered in slobber, but what’s a bit of slobber between man and man’s best friend.
It was our habit to give Jesse her last walk of the day at around nine o’clock at night. She was happy with this and ambled along sniffing here and there and occasionally stopping to water the plants. The first part of the walk took us across the parking lot, then down a narrow path through the garden to the edge of the lagoon where the path turned a corner and followed the water’s edge.
Perhaps I was gazing at the moon and stars for as we rounded the corner Jesse lunged for the base of a small bush, pulling me off my feet, and came up with half a rotten chicken, which dangled from either side of her mouth.
This was Jesse’s biggest prize ever! The stinking emperor of rotten garbage, the ultimate vomit-inducing, sweetest, biggest, juiciest most rancid chunk of decaying, puss dripping, germ infested, bacteria-ridden, putrefying slop in St. Martin and it was all hers!
Her eyes glowed with pride like hot coals in the dark. She drooled.
I dropped the leash and clamped my hands around the chicken where it hung from the sides of her mouth and gave an upwards heave. The rotten carcass split leaving me with a piece in each hand, which I threw into the lagoon. In the meantime, Jesse began to crunch.
Just then a van, lights ablaze, roared out of the parking lot, down the narrow path, bounced across the flowerbeds and came to a slewing stop inches from my legs.
The doors of the van flew open and out leapt two armed gendarmes, a man the size of a house, and a woman waving a baton.
What they saw was a crazy man trying to rip the tongue out of the mouth of a big white dog.
They started to shout.
I had managed to wrap my hand around the chicken, which was now halfway down Jesse’s throat. In her excitement, she bit down, hard. With my free hand, I tried to force her jaws open, which only made her more determined. I was shouting, the gendarmes were shouting, my wife was shouting, and if Jesse’s mouth hadn’t been full of decomposed chicken and both my poor hands, she’d have been shouting too. The gendarmes demanded to know what was going on and what I was doing to that poor dog. But every time I turned to explain, Jesse chomped harder.
Another round of shouting. For a brief second Jesse relax her jaws and, with a mighty heave, I pulled out the stinking chicken and shoved it towards the gendarmes who rapidly backed away.
Having lost the game, Jesse nonchalantly squatted and peed on the grass.
The rancid chicken did the explaining for us and, laughing, the gendarmes climbed back into their van and backed over the flowerbeds, leaving deep ruts and doing as much damage as hurricane Irma.
Jesse and I remain the best of friends. I still wrestle rotten food out of her mouth, only now I check for Gendarmes before diving in.