We have half a dozen birdfeeders hanging around our back deck. Calling them 'birdfeeders' isn't completely accurate. In addition to the birds, we feed squirrels, chipmunks and crows. I don't count crows as birds, they're too smart and they act like a gang of feathered punks who can eat ten pounds of suet at a sitting. When the sun goes down the night clean-up crew comes on duty, mostly raccoons and possums. The raccoons present some challenges because they're clever, hungry criminals with hands and a mechanical aptitude. They have skills like lock picking, breaking and entering, and feeder smashing. The suet and seed feeders are all caged and hung from sturdy chains with springloaded hasps. Sometimes they win. All the wooden feeders are gone years ago. The opossums are easier to deal with. They are dull, slow moving creatures that just waddle around cleaning up the dropped seed and small pieces of suet. But they are kind of creepy looking, like giant rats with ugly, toothy smiles.
Last night there was some scuffling outside and Lorna flicked on the outside light. "It's a possum. What should I do?" "I dunno, let Bud out." What followed was the slowest chase in the history of dogdom. Bud knew something was there or had been there. He "had wind of it" as the dogs say. Head down snuffling, concentrating hard, he was on the trail, tracking the possum's winding path around the deck. The fat old possum seemed to sense Bud wasn't a serious threat and he just kind of slowly moseyed away with Bud about fifteen feet behind. I think Bud was gaining, but the possum dropped over the edge of the deck into the darkness below before Bud had a chance to nab him. When we let Bud back in he seemed proud, a little extra kick in his step, his knot-curled tail snapping back and forth. He had done his job. He had sent the interloper on his way and saved the pack one more time. "Good dog, Bud!"