Wednesday, November 24, 2010
We discovered she was terrified of thunderstorms and so there were times when she slept in the kitchen rather than the back yard. Eventually, she spent as much time inside as out. She never made a nuisance of herself by coming to the table when we were eating and, true to her early training, she kept strictly to the bare floors in the kitchen and the laundry room next to it. She wasn’t pampered but she was definitely loved.
Brownie was a hunter at heart. Grandpa Livingston would invite us to visit if we’d bring her along to help him hunt coons in the cornfield. She actually turned out to be a good coon dog. She was less successful when chasing squirrels or rabbits or even deer. She would tear off in enthusiastic pursuit, her frenzied barking pitched high with excitement even though she never managed to catch one. Groundhogs were much easier prey. If she caught one of them out in the open the outcome was inevitable. We would come across the gruesome remains of a partially eaten carcass on the front lawn and someone would have to fetch a shovel to give it a hasty burial somewhere far enough from the house to avoid having it dragged back the next day. She also caught more mice than our cat ever did.
She was in the house with me one winter day when I pulled open the drawer in the bottom of my stove to discover that a mouse had filled it with dryer lint and built a nest among my baking tins. Horrors! I could feel my skin crawl at the thought of what might be lurking under all that fluff. Much as I wanted to, I couldn’t just close the drawer again and pretend I hadn’t seen anything. I was going to have to deal with it so I steeled my nerves and leaned down to shout a challenge into the pie plates in the hopes that any resident mouse would die of a heart attack before I uncovered it. I kicked the drawer a few times for good measure and then Brownie sat watching with head cocked to one side as I used a pair of tongs to reach in and gingerly pull the pans out one at a time.
I’d almost reached the bottom when a terrified mouse shot out from under the stove and skittered across the kitchen floor. I dropped the tongs and jumped to one side nearly tripping over the stack of pans I’d piled there.