Possum And The Tramp

Life On The Back Page With Daryl Gay, February 2011

Daryl Gay | February 2, 2011

So, it’s three o’clock in the morning, and you’re snoring fit to peel paint off a tank. All is blissfully quiet, and in the dream you’re about to squeeze off on a forty-eleven pointer…

But then, from somewhere deep inside your consciousness — or maybe UNconsciousness — comes a repetitive, annoying sound that refuses to go away. Over and over, louder and louder… and then you’re wide awake and wondering what in tarnation made it happen.

If you’re like me, the answer may well resemble a certain American bulldog named Tramp. His name probably should be changed to Lucky, or maybe Blessed, because my lovely bride has saved his hide on several occasions and convinced me to put the buckshot-loaded 16-gauge back in its case.

Tramp is a large dog. A very large dog, in fact. Only this week, a first-time visitor to my home looked out into the backyard and asked about the bloodline of my horse.

“Slobberin’ Idjit out of Maniacal Yapper,” was my reply.

 Seriously, you gotta watch Tramp when you go over — which you probably really won’t want to do at first sight — to pet him. He’ll slobber up your glasses, lick up a monsoon and generally drool a pool in your lap.

If he likes you.

If he does not, trust me when I say that you will be aware of that fact. Remember, this is a 100-plus-lb. bulldog who has no trouble at all walking around with a 12-lb. bowling ball in his maw. (It’s the only “toy” he can’t destroy.) He has never, even as a newborn pup, been labeled “little.”

Now, about that barking…

There is a 10-foot easement between my backyard fence and a neighboring subdivision. I can do anything I care to with that 10 feet of space — except build a road into the subdivision. The area is one way in, one way out, and the folks therein aim to keep it that way. That’s fine with me. Trouble is, it’s also fine with all sorts of other critters that use the overgrown area as a superhighway — in the middle of the night.

Tramp doesn’t much appreciate that. You see, all that’s between him and them is a chain-link fence. He can see them and hear them, but can’t reach out and touch them.

You know what I mean.

So when I’m roused at 2 or 3 of the a.m. to Tramp losing his mind, if not his voice, and maybe a cat or possum or deer just across the fence, I am not best pleased. But I am not allowed — by wife, by neighbors or by law — to point a shotgun in the general direction and act as if it’s opening day of dove season. In fact, about all there is to do is gently whisper words of love and adoration toward Tramp and whatever he is attempting to catch and eat.

You know what I mean.

Then, one day over at my brother’s, I saw the box. One of those “humane” trap-door wire contraptions. He had no use for it, so I came up with a scheme: it may not catch a whitetail, but anything possum or cat-sized would fit just fine, thank you.

Bought me a can of cat food, for lack of a better plan, and set that baby out one night in the midst of the demilitarized zone. And, with high hopes, went to bed.

Nothing. For two weeks, nothing. Cat food probably turned to moldy mush, but I looked over the fence at the empty trap daily and refused to buy another can. Then, finally, at 2:28 a.m. one fine 20-degree morn, Tramp announced to the world that the invasion was under way and the DMZ was being transgressed.

Have you ever seen a 20-lb. possum? In a checkerboard-wire cage so small he can’t even turn around? With a gigantic, enraged bulldog that would sell his soul for a single snap at his throat?

Oh, I thought about that snap alright. After all, Tramp had almost earned it, letting me — and most of the rest of Laurens County — know something or someone was traipsing around our little part of the world, where they really had no business traipsing.

I retrieved the cage and its rather edgy inhabitant, carried it  to Tramp’s side of the fence, and placed it on the ground just to see what would happen. Had I not snatched it directly back up, Tramp would have looked as if he was wearing possum hide-covered braces. Boys, he WANTED that possum!

But there’s just something about a caged animal looking so forlorn… Plus, I really didn’t care to have possum parts and pieces strewn all over the yard.

Just so you won’t be left hanging, the end result is that since I was going to Macon the next morning, I put the ugly, stinking critter, cage and all, in the truck bed and took him along. I would imagine that, possum hide or not, it was a rather cool trip, but he filed no complaints that I am aware of.

Last I saw of him, he was exiting the front of that cage en route to a new world record for possum-haulin’. Guess by now he’s settled in to a new life in the Ocmulgee River swamp. Don’t know if he needed a green card for entrance into Bibb County, but if any of you good ol’ Macon boys see him, take good care of him.

You know what I mean.

And Tramp? He’s still on patrol, every muscle rippling, vocal chords tuned up and ready to rumble. If you don’t believe it, just walk up to the fence.

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