Monday, April 29, 2013

The Basenjis and the Possum

(A true story – mid-October 2004)

Last night I was snuggled all cozy in bed under the covers, with Ellie curled up on my right with my arm wrapped around her and Taj stretched out against my left side with my arm around him.  Ahhhh -  all was peaceful on this first truly chilly night of fall.  I had my quartz space heater on -my furnace is broken- but I wanted the lovely fresh air to breathe, so I left the sliding glass door in my bedroom -which does not have a screen- open about the width of a Basenji's head at the ears.  I drifted off to sleep cuddled with my babies.

Some time later, Taj shot out of the bed like a rocket.  Given that he is a 20-month old B-boy, that wasn't terribly unusual .  However, he didn't jump off the bed.  I opened my eyes and saw Taj at the foot of the bed, silhouetted by the glow of the space heater, staring fixedly at something on the floor - and then I heard the growl.   RrrrrRrrrrrrrrr.  Not Taj.  Not Ellie.  The thing on the floor. 

My first thought was "oh, crap, one of the neighbor's cats came in the slider."  Then there was another growl -RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR- and it sure as heck didn't sound like any cat I've ever heard.  It was too big.  Too resonant.  Too something.  As Taj leaned down to take a closer look, I hollered "NO!" and the thing shot across the room.  Now its growling, hissing, and snarling was located halfway between the slider and my bedroom door.  Taj backed up to the head of the bed and Ellie was now on full alert.  I slowly reached up to the reading light attached to the headboard, turned it on, and -



Bs:  (wide-eyed alert silence)

It was an opossum!  The HUGEST possum I have EVER seen in my life!  Its body was as big as a basketball and it was sitting in my bedroom at 1:30am, screaming and cussing at me and the Bs.  As I pondered what to do, Taj apparently decided he would protect Ellie and Mama and charge the marauder.  I again hollered "NO!", but Taj leapt down, followed by Ellie, and the possum bolted behind the barely open bedroom door.

Now, we all know Bs are smart dogs, but sometimes they can be a little flaky.  While our visitor hastened herself behind the bedroom door, my kids sped OUT the bedroom door.  I took that opportunity to leave the room rather quickly myself and slammed the door behind me.

I stood in the hall breathing hard, not really sure whether this was actually happening.  Honestly, I don't know of anyone else who has been thrown out of their bedroom by a possum.  Ellie and Taj were racing all over the house, trying to figure out where that critter went.  Finally, they determined it was behind the bedroom door and commenced scratching and whining while the possum uttered more obscenities.

It was then I made my decision.  I am The Alpha Female of This Pack and this was My Responsibility.  I bribed the Bs into my second bedroom with some treats and shut them in.  I returned briefly to my bedroom and pushed the slider wide open, went back out and shut the door. 

I considered waiting for the possum to leave.  However, it was cold and damp outside, and warm and dry in the bedroom.  No right-thinking creature would willingly make that trade.  So, I picked up a long narrow box and slowly opened my door.  I figured if I reached around and gave the possum a few taps and pushes with the box, she'd take the hint and leave.  Instead, she sunk her teeth into the box and nearly pulled it out of my hands.  So much for that.  I dropped the box and shut the door. 

After another minute of thought, I fetched my yardstick, because I sure as heck didn't want to open the door again if I didn't have to.  I figured maybe poking Ms. Possum a few times from under the door might motivate her.  All my first tentative pokes did was confirm that she was an extremely well-fed creature that definitely weighed more than either Taj or Ellie.  While the Bs kept up a commentary from the other room and I thought of my nice warm bed, I thwacked the possum a few times on the side with the yardstick, then poked it rapidly into her ample hind end.  I felt her lift off the yardstick, heard her charging away, and then silence. 

I cautiously entered the room, concerned whether she had perhaps gone under the bed, but I had reasonable proof she had left.  There was a steady trail of possum poop heading straight out the sliding door.

After a bit of cleanup and SHUTTING THAT SLIDER, I let Taj and Ellie out of the other room.  Of course, they had a lot of exploring to do before they came back to bed.  Ellie vocalized for about ten minutes after she crawled back in bed with me and Taj was up and down for about an hour. 

When I woke up this morning, I doubted for a minute whether this whole thing had happened.  Then I looked out the slider.  There was a trail of possum poop leading to the back yard. 

Hoping tonight will be more peaceful,

Linda Krajewski, Redlands, CA  
Ellie (can't we get some sleep around here?)
Taj (I can kick that possum's butt, Mom!)    


  1. I'm the author, and I ran across this while looking through my hard drive. I can't believe I didn't share this on the blog before. We now live in a different city, my beloved queen Ellie has since gone to the Bridge and Taj is now 10 years old. The possum incident was truly one of the most memorable moments I've had in my 12 years with Basenjis. :-)

  2. In my younger days, I've encountered a possum in the woods in the middle of the night. Of course I was freaked out and there the two of us were at a standoff. Then I realized that most animals are more scared of you than you are of it. (Most.) I proceeded to stamp my feet which then made the possum scurry off into the night. However, in your case having a bunch of dogs probably didn't help your case. :)

  3. When I first moved back to NY from AZ. About 10 years ago, my dad recently had a heart attack and was taking care of my Grandmother who was in late stages of dementia, I came home to help dad, along with my 2 B's Ziggee,3 yrs old and Scarlett 4 yrs old. This was a whole new experience, we had chain link fences and grass, not like AZ where we had concrete walls and dirt! They could see dogs in the yards 4-5 houses down! Grams also had a walnut tree, it was huge, the squirrels we abundant here and gave the Bs plenty of entertainment and exercise. Behind my Grams house was an expressway, also with a 8 foot high chai link fence, my nephew who was 8 years old at the time, had a trampoline in the backyard. This helped me get the B's out in the rain, they would run underneath and go potty. One day early fall, I let them out and they ran to the back, because it was raining. I went to grab my coffee and jacket to join them, as I was in the kitchen, I seen both Bs at a dead stop in the middle of the yard before the trampoline, standing in the rain( we all know this is very unusual behavior for our breed. I ran outside to see what happened, and there was and injured possum under the trampoline! His hind legs were lying on the ground, he must have been hit by a car on the expressway and some how found his way to safety. As I came out, Zig and Scarlett, ran around the other side under the trampoline to do their business. It was as if they sensed his injuries and waited for me to come help. They had no interest in him, they let me give this poor animal water, and called wildlife to come rehab him. Maybe because he wasn't moving, the attraction wasn't there... Rabbits, squirrels, neighbors cats, nothing was safe in our yard, but for some reason this injured possum, my dogs wanted me to help! Our B's are amazing��