Benji dream

I am walking with someone ahead of me on a path through an open area towards woods. Suddenly Benji and a black dog are charging full speed to the left through the field, towards a small yard where several children are playing. The children jump up on a small table for safety. But only the black dog is there. Behind them to the right is a fence, with Benji on the far side of it. (The side the dogs approached is open, but hey, this is a dream.)

I yell to Benji, and he runs back towards the right. Just at the point he has cleared the fence, and I think he is about to turn toward me, a large white horse appears, running beside him, between us. The horse abruptly drops to the ground on its left side. I think it must have landed on Benji, but then see him, also on his side or back on the ground. I don’t know what they do next, sniffing or rolling around, but they are completely preoccupied with one another.

And happy.

Benji’s end

I took the dogs to the country for horse-desensitizing on Monday, three days ago. I got talking with our neighbor Mariana. Mariana is a veterinarian, and boards dogs there. I told her how Benji had attacked Mocha suddenly that morning, a few feet from my desk chair. I worried what might have happened had I not been right there at the time. I did not see what led up to it, but they had been doing their usual rough play before. I have heard a couple of little shrieks from Mocha recently. This time it was sustained terror shrieking. Benji showed no sign of letting up.

Dogs Benji and Mocha
July 16: Benfi (32 kg) and Mocha (22 kg)

Tuesday morning we took all three – including our Shih Tzu Bandido – to the country. They had a great time running around (Bandido is a hoot to see running full-bore in foot-high grass). Mariana saw my wife, so walked over to chat; it’s been a while. Bandido early on escaped his harness, and when Mariana came to the gate he found a way to get out through the side where there’s no dog fencing. No big deal. Mariana handed him back, we put him on the grass. All the dogs had been running like crazy and now settled down near us. I went to the car to get Bandido’s halter. I asked Mariana to adjust it tighter, than crouched down to put it on Bandido.

And Benji attacked Bandido viciously. Benji missed the neck, but was starting to shake Bandido like a rabbit. (Bandido has a puncture on his leg, one stitch; he’ll be OK.) Benji had a harness, so I could grab him easily. I’m 6’3″, 195 pounds, and pretty strong for 64 years. I could immediately restrain a strong 70 pound dog. My wife or Mariana – five months pregnant and outside the gate – would have been helpless. Had I been even ten feet away I doubt Bandido would have survived.

Since this happened right in front of her, Mariana saw that there was no provocation and no warning. She asked me if this was typical. I said yes, there’s never any warning. When he meets other dogs he sniffs like a regular dog for a few seconds but then attacks without warning: no growl, no hackles. It’s been getting worse over time; I no longer dared let him off leash around other dogs.

I said that in the US, by now we would probably have had him put down, but vets here won’t put down a healthy dog.

She – Uruguayan vet – said she would do it. She said this is a dangerous dog. We arranged for that afternoon.

I had to wait a few minutes for Mariana, and a neighbor I haven’t met stopped by on his motorcycle. Country Uruguayans speak very garbled Spanish. He was saying something about a dog. I explained what we were doing. He kept saying what a beautiful dog, and wondering if someone he knew might take it. Mariana arrived, talked with him, and said absolutely no. Dangerous dog. A shame, but a dangerous dog.

It’s done. He went peacefully and quickly with my hands on him. Mocha was there.

The quiet yesterday in the house felt sad. Today it feels more like peace. A background anxiety has been building in me for months because of Benji. It is now beginning to fade.

Benji was getting better on walks, much calmer. I wish I’d known about  when we got him at 7-8 months. But at that age I walked with him off leash, and he played with other dogs he met on the beach. He was under four years old.

Of paltas and comedrejas

The other night, quite late, I let the dogs out to the back yard and a huge uproar. Grabbing the flashlight, I saw a “dead” comadreja (possum) on the grass. (“Dead:” of course it was gone the next morning.)

By daylight, I noticed something near one of our two very prolific (this year, at least) avocado trees.

Possum damage to avocado harvest

Look to the top left and lower right, and you’ll see what look like mushrooms, or eggs, or – you guessed it – avocado pits.

Today, under the other, which produces larger fruit, I saw more evidence of recent activity.

Possum damage to avocado harvest

That avocado skin in the foreground measures 5 inches (12.7 cm) from end to end – a serious guacamological loss.

The first tree drops fruit; this one doesn’t. Since possums are very adept climbers, I suspect this represents an unauthorized harvest.

Possum damage to avocado harvest

Which is perhaps the reason I have had little scraps of fence wire hanging on the garage wall for so long. I don’t know if this will work, but the critter will have to navigate points of wire at the top, and the boards should make it difficult to get right next to the trunk. We’ll see.

If you’ve spent time in Uruguay, you may have noticed an abundance of parrots. They are quite charming until you plant fruit trees, and you find them taking a few bites out of each pear or fig.

One person told me that there weren’t always so many. It seems that the rapid increase in eucalyptus and pine planting in the past 30-40 years has given parrots very tall trees for build their nests – above the range of possums, who presumably like parrot chicks and eggs in addition to avocados.

An even more amazing rabbit chase

It was the most amazing rabbit chase to date. And seeing as we’ve had a rabbit bounce off our legs and escape at a 90° angle (honest!), that’s saying something.

We were in an open area, with woods about 50 meters ahead, when suddenly one of the dogs burst out of the woods, chasing a young rabbit straight down the path towards us. Had the dog been Benji or Jordan, the rabbit would already be dead, but the dog chasing it wasn’t one of the faster ones.

And the little rabbit wasn’t fast at all.

From Pinterest, source unknown

Syd and I immediately stood on the path in the way of the dog and shouted. No time to think, but with the other dogs behind us, in a completely open area, the little rabbit was seconds away from being torn to shreds.

But then something amazing happened.

We didn’t scare the dog, which continued running. But the rabbit abruptly turned around and ran (as fast as it could, but not real fast) straight back on the trail it had just come down, into the woods. All by itself.

Dogs? No, they were running furiously in the opposite direction. They made a wide arc onto the sand road nearby and reversed direction, and it looked like they still had a good chance to intercept the rabbit.

And then they were running everywhere – could the rabbit possibly escape?


Which gave an amazing chase a particularly happy ending.