117. Rat Patrol

117.  Rat Patrol

During my lifetime at home on the farm, we always had a dog.  After we were there a couple of years, my parents got my dog, a black spotted Dalmatian Coach Hound puppy.  I named her Petunia — Tuni for short.  Why Petunia?  I don’t remember.  Maybe she liked the flowers Mom planted by the steps.  I learned about teaching puppies as we house-broke Petunia, then taught her to come and to sit.

The picture is of Petunia, sitting by the kitchen door.  The Hixhaven sign was made of apple twigs tacked on a board, and was going to be mounted on a pole at the entrance to the driveway when the ground got soft in the spring.  The wreath on the door indicates it is Christmas time.

When Mom didn’t like the starlings keeping the purple martins off the martin house, Daddy got me a 4-10 gauge shotgun, and Petunia and I became the designated pest control team for the farm.  Our main target pests were the starlings and rats.  When I would shoot the rats and starlings, Tuni would charge to grab them and shake them to be sure they were dead — then bring them to me.  I was good with the shotgun, and kept the starlings from hurting the other birds.

If there was evidence of a rat in the chicken coop, I’d leave the door ajar, and Tuni and I would sneak out after dark to peek inside.  Tuni was perfect; she stayed close beside me, and never made a sound.  The one bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling was enough light to see if there was a rat in the feed trough or near the baby chick brooder, and I would get off my shot.  Tuni would leap past me to do her job of making sure of the final kill.

I stepped into the shop one day and saw a big rat by the workbench.  “TUNI!” I yelled, “GET HIM!”  Tuni, who was right behind me, saw the rat and made a great leap into the shop — landing squarely above him. The rat closed his eyes and froze.  Tuni had jumped a little too far and couldn’t see the rat under her belly. She was looking all around in front of her, trying to see where the rat was.  The rat finally saw the way out between Tuni’s legs and disappeared into the mass of stuff stored nearby.  Mom and I laughed and laughed about Petunia and the rat that got away.  Petunia the hunter!

PETUNIA

Petunia was a Dalmatian Coach Hound,
The hound of Hix Haven, our farm.
When a car pulled into the driveway,
Petunia would sound the alarm.

Petunia and I were most diligent;
We guarded the farm day and night.
We watched for the rats and starlings;
With orders to shoot them on sight.

To protect the chickens and songbirds;
We patrolled the coop and the yard.
No farm pests would bother our family;
Petunia and I were on guard.

 

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