My Dog Kills!


My dog is a killer.

After we got him, I found a weird black and blue lizard on our back doormat. Its tail had been removed. There were chew marks on its plasticky skin. I picked it up with a Clorox wipe and threw it unceremoniously into the trash. No big deal, right? He’s a carnivore. The lizard was meat. I know how it goes. I learned about the food chain in 7th grade. But, he could have had the decency to finish it.

Last week there was a mouse-ish thing in our driveway. It was sitting next to the front tire of our car on a Sunday morning. The top of its head wasn’t there anymore. Like that scene in Hannibal. You know the one… I don’t even like looking at it. But, my dog was Hannibal. The mouse is was Ray Liotta.


Sadistic animal theater. Sherlock, left, is played by Anthony Hopkins. Ray Liotta, on the right with the top of his skull removed, is playing the mouse that I found two weeks ago. Enjoy.

I picked it up with Clorox wipe, inside of a plastic bag. I tied it so tightly that not even its ghost could have escaped. I threw it into the trash. I boiled my hands.

I thought it was a cat. A bird. A coyote? We have all three down here in Atlanta. Our neighbor leaves tins of cat food out by his car port. Two or three times a week, feline visitors saunter into our yard and stare at us. As far as birds are concerned, I see so many hawks and falcons that they’ve ceased to be special. A few months ago there was a foot tall bird of pray tearing apart a squirrel at the end of the block. If this were Philadelphia, I would have tried to get a picture. This is Atlanta. I shrugged and kept driving.

Both cats and birds love mice. I used to watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom every Saturday. Mice are like the Captain Crunch of the animal kingdom. Everybody loves mice.

We do so have coyotes. I saw one our first night in Atlanta. I was outside looking at the darkness; you don’t get darkness like this in Philadelphia. And a sleek gray coyote ran out of our neighbor’s front yard, across the cul de sac and right past me. It disappeared into the thin strip of woods behind our house. The fact that nobody believes me doesn’t make it any less true. So maybe a coyote murdered the mouse. Popped the top of its little skull off, and then left it in our driveway. As long as the murderer wasn’t our puppy.

This animal puts its muzzle in my daughter’s face. He licks us and nibbles at the edge of our kitchen table. Don’t ask me why. Sherlock jumps on our couch and he hides in the dirty clothes. I don’t want a murderer hiding in our dirty clothes.

I know what I sound like. One of those parents in the anti-drug commercials. The one that walks into the room and finds his or her son snorting coke off of a dead cheerleader. So he or she tells the child that dinner is ready, turns around and closes the door firmly behind him/her. I used to laugh at those commercials.

Today Sherlock was sitting there with something brackish and dirty hanging from his mouth. I thought it was dirty wet leaves that have been underneath a cinderblock for a year or two. Or, maybe an old piece of inner tube from the people that lived here before us. He came inside. I looked closer.

I still don’t know what it was. I won’t sully the purity of the world wide web by posting a picture of that mess. It was small. Small enough to fit totally in a little dog’s mouth.

I don’t know how long he had been chewing on it. Long enough that it was just a raggedy scrap of its former self. Which I picked up on the back of a frisbee and chucked into the yard. I considered the Clorox wipes but quickly determined that it was too gross.

I’ve had three dogs in my life. None of them were small. All of them were capable of killing the hell out of a mouse, or a lizard. But over the course of more than twenty years of ownership, I’ve never seen anything like that… that little pink and black scrap of mess. Maybe they were kind enough to swallow their kills. Or maybe they were content with the food and water that we provided, free of charge.

Yes, we feed Sherlock. His belly stays full. Which means, he leaves our house and hunts for sport. And when he’s laying down on any number of ruined pillows, he’s  fantasizing about his next kill. He’s in it for the love of the game. He’s a murderer.

I’ve written about Sherlock before, here and here. Those posts were about unrealistic expectations and poop. Since then, he’s become a much better citizen of our small house. He comes when you call him. He sits on command, and he hasn’t peed or pooped in the house for more than a month. But his body count is climbing.