I’ve had my dog Wobbly for some time now. He’s not half as goofy as he used to be, and I have to be honest, he’s a right homely lookin’ pet. The front half of him looks like a bulldog, but his back-half is mostly Basset Hound. His gray head and tri-colored body look like somebody went and sewed two dogs into one. Wobbly’s large tongue is as wide as it is long. That thing just hangs out of his mouth below his double chin droppin’ slobbers everywhere he walks. He has left our house in an awful mess. Darla spends half her day mopping up dried doggy drool, and the other half cussin’ because Wobbly has already messed up her floor again. Of course, his good looks and slobberin’ habits are exceeded only by his natural odor. That animal could gag a maggot on a warm humid day, but we don’t blame Wobbly because he’s a hound dog, bless his heart.
Now you may be wonderin’ why we don’t keep him outside in a kennel. We used to do that with our early dogs. We learned over the years that the weather and predators make life downright miserable for a dog caged up outside. Then there’s the barkin’. There ain’t nothin’ more heart breakin’ than a dog cryin’ for his family. We adopted Wobbly, slobbers, smells and all, so he lives inside with us.
Besides, he is a sight to behold when a stranger comes wanderin’ around. Just yesterday we had a neighbor boy that liked to cut through our backyard to get to his buddy’s house. Now I don’t mind that none as I used to do it when I was a youngin’, too. I had just let Wobbly out in the backyard to play. Even though we don’t have a fence Wobbly enjoys staying inside the boundary of his own yard. I reckon that’s the bulldog in him because a Basset Hound will run away for miles if you don’t keep them penned up. Anyway, this young man comes strollin’ along into our yard. Now Wobbly wasn’t angry. In fact, I think he likely wanted to play. So, Wobbly goes galloping with his short legs and long body towards that boy. Now what that young man saw was Wobbly’s big head bobbin’ up and down, tongue slappin’ his face and spit flyin’ everywhere. Ole Wobbly stopped a couple feet away with his crooked tail just a waggin’. To be honest, it looks more like he has a twitch, but that’s how he wags his tail.
Now for all of Wobbly’s unfortunate genetics he has been given one mighty gift by his Creator. His bark is so low and loud you’d swear I had a Wolf Hound hidden somewhere on my property, and that’s his happy bark. Well, Wobbly let out a couple of happy barks to his new friend. That kid screamed, turned tail and run. Of course, Wobbly thought they were playin’ a game and chased after him. That kid ran screamin’ until he was plumb out of sight. Thankfully, Wobbly stopped at the edge of his yard, because he’s as smart as he is ugly. Bless his heart.
Wobbly felt rejected when he realized his new friend wasn’t comin’ back. He sat out there at the edge of the yard makin’ the most awful racket you ever did hear. He even had me tearin’ up. When I couldn’t take anymore, I headed outside to comfort the little guy. Darla made some joke about me bein’ an old softie, but if you would of heard Wobbly you’d done the same. I sat down in the grass and that dog immediately changed his mood and came runnin’ for me. That’s when I realized I may have made a mistake.
Wobbly had a big grin on that giant head of his. His tongue slapped his face in rhythm with his head as he came runnin’ for me. He mouth was shootin’ out so much spit he looked like a hairy sprinkler. I was about to stand up, but he was already on top of me. All I could see was his huge pink tongue licking me. Occasionally his long dog ears would slap me in the cheek, and then more tongue and slobber would follow suit. I tried to protect myself by quickly rollin’ onto my stomach. That only made the situation worse.
The next thing I know my hair is full of Wobbly slobbers, and he’s standing on my back with those short legs. Now that may not sound too bad, but he’s full grown now and around sixty pounds. I thought I had four poles tryin’ to poke through my back. The moment I started to turn my head my face was fully covered in pink wet dog tongue. He had me completely cornered.
I was relieved to hear the back door open. I knew Darla would come and rescue me from the pounds of puppy love I was experiencin’. I could hardly hear her for the dog tongue sloppin’ on my ear.
Somewhere between the squishin’ noise I heard Darla holler, “That’s what you get, Lucius! You made your bed, now lie it.” Then she laughed and went back inside. She sure does like seeing Wobbly and me have fun together. Bless her heart.
I laid there until Wobbly finished givin’ me a good tongue lashin’. Thankfully he got bored after another four or five minutes. I was drippin’ in dog drool by the time he jumped off my back and sat down waitin’ for me to get up. My hair was stuck firmly to my head like I had just covered it in a can of mousse. That could have been right stylish except for the dried bubbles, and bits of things I did not want to think about.
Wobbly and I headed back in the house. Darla gave him a treat, and I gave myself a shower. I felt a lot better once I was all cleaned up. I walked into the family room, and Darla was relaxin’ in her recliner and Wobbly was entertaining himself with a rope I had tied to an iron ring I had bolted into the fireplace. I sat down ready to recover from the day’s activities.
I had just grabbed the television remote when Darla spoke up.
“We are down three more hens,” she said.
I knew what that meant. We had coyotes again. Coyotes had killed our other dog. They had taken out two hens and I decided to lock the biddies in the hen house. I had put Flash in the fenced pen. There was a small opening that only a single animal could get through at a time. I figured the coyotes would be smart enough not to take on Flash one at a time. Unfortunately, they were smarter than I thought. They had coaxed Flash out of the pen instead. He was severely outnumbered and never had a chance. They had not been around since.
Darla sat there lookin’ at me waitin’ for a response. I knew Wobbly would be no match, but the two of us together might make a fight of it.
I turned to Darla and said, “Well, I suppose my rifle and Wobbly’s bark just might make those scoundrels think twice about comin’ around here again.”
Darla grunted and went back to readin’.
I got up and got my trusty huntin’ rifle. My .30-06 had never failed me. I’ve killed coyote and bear, as well as deer with it. This gun has saved my life on more than one occasion hiking through the woods. My rifle may look beat up and worn around the wooden stock, but her barrel is well oiled and loved as well as I love my dog. Now the three of us were going to put an end to that pack of killers.
The dog, my gun, and I all headed out the door. I heard Darla yell, “Be careful with Wobbly!” as I shut the door behind us. I hefted Wobbly up into my pickup, put my rifle in its rack and headed down to the farm as the sun was startin’ to go down. It was goin’ to be a cold night so I brought along a thermos of hot coffee for me, and some warm water for Wobbly.
The farm felt cold and desolate when I pulled up next to the hen house. Normally this was my sanctuary, but it had been invaded by a pack of killers, and I was sure they were watchin’ me unload Wobbly from the truck. I had no doubt they were sizing up their odds for when the sun fell below the horizon. I came prepared though. From behind my truck seat I pulled out night goggles. When the time came I would see as good as those scrounges.
Wobbly followed me to the back of the pickup and I got a folding chair. We got to fence and I unfolded the chair next to the small opening in the fence. If worse came to worse I’d push Wobbly through the opening and make my stand there alone. But, it was not nightfall yet. I decided to have some fun with the hens. I put Wobbly on his leash, opened the gate and let him bark at the biddies. Oh lawd you ain’t never seen such a sight. Feathers and wings were flyin’ everywhere as they fought each other to get in that hen house.
Lookin’ back on it I guess that was a mite cruel considerin’ a coyote had just killed a couple of their friends, but at the time I was just needin’ a distraction. I got Wobbly quiet when the last one dashed inside and closed the door to the hen house. There was nothin’ to do now but wait.
It was 11 pm and I had finished half my thermos. Wobbly was curled up under my chair tryin’ to stay warm and snorin’ up a storm. In fact, he snored so loud I didn’t recognize his growl. I felt him bump against my chair and knew he was no longer sleepin’. That’s when the first howl came from the edge of the woods a short way down the field. There’s somethin’ about a coyote howl that will put a chill through your bones. When the pack answers the chill will cut all the way through your body.
I pulled down my night goggles and looked around. I still did not see them. I looked down as I felt Wobbly walk out from under me. I had never seen him really angry before then. All his hair was standin’ up. His sagging shoulders now rippled with muscles. His tongue was no longer hangin’ out. He was sniffin’ the air and those large jaws flexed in anticipation.
To my surprise four coyotes appeared at the same time out of the forest’s edge, but they were spread apart. The alpha was not hard to spot. He stood a good six inches taller than the others and was in the center with one on his left and two on his right. The three females started to walk diagonally, likely hopin’ to distract my attention away from the alpha-male by movin’ to one side or the other. That alpha was bold. He just kept walkin’ slowly straight ahead. Wobbly took a half dozen steps towards him.
I called, but Wobbly would not respond. I knew then what they intended to do. They would pull the dog away and me with him when I stepped out to retrieve him. Then it was just a matter of circling both of us. My one chance was to shoot the alpha first and pray I had enough time to kill or wound another two before they were on us. I began to raise my rifle, but I was too slow. The alpha began his charge. To my surprise Wobbly found his legs and took off like a shot.
If I shot my rifle now I risked hitting Wobbly and my heart would not let me take that risk. I prayed for a miracle. Wobbly and the alpha met with such force they both rolled over each other on the ground. When the somersaults had stopped, Wobbly ended up on top, his massive jaws locked on the coyote’s throat. Blood was flowin’ across Wobbly’s lips and he showed no signs of letting go. That alpha regained his legs and stood up, but the bulldog in Wobbly had come out. Nothing was going to release Wobbly’s grip. The more that coyote tried to shake Wobbly loose, the more he cut his own throat.
It was then I noticed movement on my left. Two of the coyotes realized things were not going as planned and were headed for Wobbly. I raised my gun and took each one down with a single shot. I turned to my right to see the third coyote lookin’ and me and slowly backin’ up towards the woods. I turned back to see the alpha lying still on the ground, and Wobbly with him. I turned my gun back to the fourth coyote, but it had disappeared.
I finally felt like I could breathe again. I walked over to Wobbly. I could see through my night goggles he was breathin’ hard. His nose was movin’ back and forth as fast as he could manage to try and get in all the air he possibly could. I called his name and his eye shot up and looked at me.
“It’s okay, boy. We got ‘em,” I said.
Wobbly finally relaxed his jaw. He slowly got back up on his legs and stretched his sore body. He shook his massive head and slobber and blood got on my legs, the end of my gun, and my hand. He was fine. I wiped the blood off my hand, pulled out my cell phone and called for the Sheriff to send someone to pick up the dead coyotes. We had to confirm none of these varmints had rabies.
Now as I tell some folks, the Sheriff and I don’t always see eye to eye, but when it comes to wildlife and rabies we are always in agreement. He showed up with animal control about a half hour later. Wobbly and I were enjoyin’ our last bit of warm liquid. The animal control officer asked me if Wobbly was up to date for rabies and I showed him his tag. I warned them one got away. I was sad to hear several farmers had been havin’ trouble with more than one coyote pack. I reckoned it was time we thought about startin’ up a hunt soon. The Sheriff offered to set that up for me. I’m still thinkin’ about that one. I’m not sure I trust that man around me with a gun in the woods.
Well, the two of them got busy with the dead coyotes and I got out of their way. I decided to leave the hens locked up for the night in case that last coyote decided to try its luck after we’d left. After the Sheriff got done walkin’ around the killed animals he came over to me and ran his flashlight over us. That’s when he noticed Wobbly’s dried drool on my shoes and jeans. He also noticed the coyote blood mixed in. He shined the flashlight on his face. I couldn’t help but notice a look of pity in his eyes and a slight smile in the corner of his mouth as he spoke to me. “Lucius, you know the protocol if we don’t know if a wild animal has rabies.”
I didn’t like where he was headin’. “I know, but these coyotes didn’t appear rabid. In fact, they were so smart and coordinated it was downright scary.”
“You said the male charged you and Wobbly, even though Wobbly’s a dog and you had a gun.”
I sighed. I knew exactly what was comin’. “I’m sorry, but we need to take you to the hospital and get the shots started.”
“But to blood came off Wobbly’s slobbers!” I protested.
The Sheriff put his hand on my shoulder, “I’m sorry, Lucius. Wobbly’s had his shots. You haven’t. I’m just tryin’ to keep you alive.”
I knew I was defeated. “You and Wobbly. Bless y’all’s hearts.”
At least the Sheriff called the vet. He came on out, picked up Wobbly and took him back to his office to get him cleaned him up proper. That allowed Darla to come directly to the hospital. She walked into my room with a worried look and then shook her head like I should’ve known better.
Even though I’m sittin’ here in the hospital with an arm full of needle holes, I’m right proud of Wobbly. He can be as dangerous as he is homely, and that makes him a right decent guard dog.