Once down the front steps, I shone the light over the farmyard trying to locate the dogs. They were nowhere to be seen. I finally located them by sound...the barking. They were in their old puppy kennel inside the barnyard. When I flashed the light into the kennel, I glimpsed an animal with grey/brown fur sticking out of a corner of the pallet platform that the dogs and sheep liked to lay on. My heart sank---Gus??!!!
Gritting my teeth, I looked down at the spotlighted area. Not Gus. But WHAT was it? It was about the size of a cat......aww....poor thing...the dogs were going ballistic trying to get at it. They were taking turns as to who would make a dive in to try to nab it when it poked it's head out of the pallet. I repeatedly tried to get the dogs away from the thing...no luck. It had teeth---big ones---like a beaver almost! Blood was dripping out of Zephyr's mouth from bites that she had suffered...and Maya was no better off. I was still in the process of trying to figure out how to save the "poor thing" ...when I saw the tail. This was definitely not a soft, fluffy---it was a rat tail. All the conditioning of my lifetime kicked in---my very being now agreed with the dogs: kill!! I was amazed at the speed of my reaction.
I went back to the house to get gloves and a trash bag.... I left the dogs guarding their kill, but I wasn't sure when/if that would evolve into them eating it.... and as far as I knew this was a large rat. The words "gargantuan rodent" and "VERMIN" sprang to my mind; it's all about that hairless tail....
With my adrenalin rush going full tilt, I headed back out to the kennel with my strobe light: my intent was to somehow get the "***" away from the dogs and dispose of it. Right. The minute I touched the thing with the bat (to make sure that it wasn't just playing 'possum), both dogs went into hyper drive again---SURE that it still needed the deathblow to be administered! The flashlight went out. During the following seconds, I realized what I was about ready to do....reach in and take the hard-earned "prize" away from two 120 pound dogs: One of these dog, Zephyr, had bit me when I took just a BONE away from her when she was about 6 months old during a training session. And bear in mind that the flashlight was still suffering from "strobe attack".
It took about 5 minutes of tracking where the "***" was in relationship to the dogs before I got my opening. Moving as fast as I could, my gloved hand darted in, grabbed where in the dark (yes, the light went out at this opportune moment!) I thought that that tail (hairless) was, grabbed, connected (yes!!) and threw the "***" over the barnyard fence. Breathe. The most that the dogs did was jump at me....phew.....
After praising the dogs profusely, I left the barnyard, located the "***" and bagged it. (bleah....) I was just getting ready to climb back into bed when I remembered that I still needed to give the girls a humongous food reward for their bravery....raiding the refrigerator of leftovers, I went back out and gave out rewards--both food and loves before I finally went back inside and climbed into bed.
As a gentle aside....during this whole episode, the entire flock of sheep was huddled together in two tight rows in the front area of the barn about 20 feet away---watching. After Maya's final attack, the sheep all came out of the barn, and started their normal milling around. They KNOW that the dogs are their protectors.