Our dog, Maggie, is a lot like Lassie. So the other night while my youngest son, Eli, was sleeping, it wasn’t at all surprising to see her perched in the threshold of the office barking a series of short staccato yips at my husband, Mark, while he typed away at his computer. “What is it girl?” he asked a la Timmy Martin, “Is someone in trouble?”
Maggie voiced a few more Morse Code like woofs and gestured with her head for my husband to follow. He quickly complied and Maggie led him down the hall towards the living room and courtyard. She stopped abruptly at the archway to the living room and yipped another string of urgent yelps. Our other dog, S’more, had joined her in the portal. They wouldn’t extend a paw beyond the threshold.
Mark opened the French doors and walked into the courtyard expecting to find some wayward quail or other lost desert creature. He found nothing and re-entered the house.
“There’s nothing out there, sweetie,” he calmly replied. But the yelping continued as both dogs stood frozen like guards at Buckingham Palace. Mark knelt down and tried to ease their heightening panic. That’s when he heard the unmistakable shake of a rattle behind him. He slowly stood and turned towards the sound. There, in the middle of our living room, stood a 3 foot uninvited Rattle snake.
Secure that our youngest was sleeping soundly down the hallway and the dogs wouldn’t approach the venomous intruder, he methodically backed away and moved stealthily into the garage to retrieve the first long metal object he could find. It was a rake that proved to be the ultimate asp destructor. Once it was officially deceased, he carefully speared it on the sharp end of the rake spokes and shot-putted it into the desert wash behind our property.
When I came home with my older son, Levi, I noted particular nervousness in both of our normally easy-going pups. S’more was barking at every sound and motion, while Maggie just sat curled up in a corner of our bedroom. “Is everything okay with the dogs?” I asked. My husband nodded and tried to smile, “Yep. Everything is A-OK.”
After Levi went to sleep I returned to our bedroom to find the two dogs and my husband cuddling eerily on our bed. That’s when he confessed his murderous crime. I didn’t ask for the details. The thought of my gentle husband smooshing the life out of any creature, be it in self-defense or not, was too much for me to bear.
I chastised him mercilessly for failing to do something sensible like calling 911 or scooping up our son and canines and rushing madly from the house. “I had to protect my family,” he told me bravely, “I had no other choice.” I admit I kind of liked seeing him as a lone cowboy standing guard over us, his unprotected herd. After all, most of the time he’s just the big lug who leaves his dishes in the sink and socks strewn across the bedroom floor.
I found myself texting everyone I knew. “Nerdy Jewish doctor or ruthless Rattle snake slayer? You decide.” He caught me mid text. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Aren’t you going to bed?”
“Oh yeah,” I stammered. “Just had to finish a few emails. I’ll be right in.”
He took a few steps towards the bedroom a la John Wayne, then stopped and turned back to me, “Well goodnight, little lady.” he declared in a low manly voice. Then with a tip of his mythical hat he added, “And remember; Don’t squat with yer spurs on.” And with that, he sauntered off into the distance, leaving me with only the shadow of his courageous smile and the memory of his selfless bravery.