Murder in the Backyard – originally posted 20/7/17.


Do these look like the faces of cold-blooded murderers? I don’t think so. Well – they had me fooled, as I’m sure they did you. Behind those perky ears and benign expressions lurks a dark psyche. Not only did these deceptively sweet dogs ruthlessly kill, but the murder was a premeditated conspiracy.

The day started off well. I had seen a couple of clients, then did some writing. Mid-afternoon I went out to do some yard chores. As I headed to the outdoor tap to swill out the compost bin, I spotted a small mound of fur with two lifeless eyes staring at me from a distance of a couple of metres. I froze.

Insects, spiders, and reptiles cause no aversive reaction in me. In fact, I find them quite interesting. But dead things are entirely another matter. Once a creature is dead, no matter how cute, cuddly, or scientifically significant it might have been before it left this mortal coil, I am repulsed. So, how did I handle the discovery of the corpse in the back yard? You might wonder.

I did what any sensible, smart, capable woman would do. I dropped the compost bin and ran into the house yelling “Bi-i-i-i-ll! There’s something dead in the yard! I think Chieftain killed a squirrel. You’ll have to deal with it! Right away! Please!”

I slammed the door behind me, worried that the carcass might suddenly spring to life and come after me.

I’ve often told Bill that one of the main reasons I married him was to insure I had in-house dead critter disposal.
I didn’t insist on including it in the marriage vows, but it did cross my mind. Anyway, he recognized that this was a true emergency. He stopped what he was doing and grabbed a compostable poop bag.

“I think you’ll need something bigger than that,” I informed him.

He looked skeptical. “For a squirrel?”

“It’s a big squirrel.”

A few minutes later, he returned.

“You’re right. I need a bigger bag. That’s a groundhog. I think Ceilidh had some involvement in this.”

Upon hearing her name, Ceilidh, who has slunk through the door when I ran into the house, ambled over to us. Her muzzle and paws were filthy, covered in loose soil and bits of cedar mulch – the smoking gun.

We pieced together a likely scenario. Ceilidh, the blonde curly culprit, dug into a groundhog hole to flush the poor beast out. Then, when the terrified victim made a dash for safety, Chieftain, the heavyweight, moved in to deliver the coup de grâce.

And there was the handsome brute, lying in the shade next to a path of day lilies, looking nonchalant and showing not one iota of remorse.

So I gave both of them a lecture about peace and love to all the earth’s creatures. They just licked their paws
and wagged their tails. I don’t think I succeeded in making them reflect on their evil ways.

I cringe when I think of sharing our home – and our bedroom – with such heartless killers.