The Peaceable Kingdom

The dog lies down with the cat.


It’s not always so peaceable. Sometimes Sam looks at one of the cats with just a little too much interest. And sometimes one of the cats (that would be either Sylvester or Smokey) jumps Dusty or Chloe. But for this time, everyone had their place in the sun, and there was peace in our little kingdom.

A night visitor

Leah has been noticing signs of some kind of animal eating the cats’ food that she puts out in the garage. Saturday night we found out what it was.

night visitor

This possum had found the beds Leah put under the stoop at the door from the garage into the house. We often see cats under there in cold weather, but not on Saturday.

Leah wanted to get him out, but I could think of only one way to do it. A couple of years ago another possum found the cozy cat bedroom and settled in for some sleep. Unfortunately, Zeke smelled him out and tore the leash out of my hand before I could stop him. Zeke disposed of the possum, or made a good effort. There was blood. Neither of us wanted to go that route on Saturday, so we settled for baiting our live-capture trap. It came up empty Sunday morning, tripped but with the peanut butter bait still there. We set the trap again Sunday night. We’ll see how that turns out.

Sam still is

Our neighbor’s dog Sam is still here. We have explored the possibility of having him board a transport for points north, where, apparently, dogs are wanted as pets and are not thrown away as often as down here in Georgia. But so far, I haven’t had the heart. He still stays with us almost 24 hours a day, sleeps in a dog house in our yard and accompanies the dogs and me on our walks. He also still chases a cat if the cat runs, so Leah is not exactly happy with the situation. In fact, I’m not either. We already have two dogs, which is generally one more than I want at any one time. Three would be a big stretch for us.

When we are inside sitting on our couch watching television and the dogs are lying around snoozing, Sam is often on the front walk, staring in.

sam at the door

Staring and staring.

A few days ago we brought him in on a leash. He found Lucy’s peanut butter bong and was fascinated. But Sam’s previous life must have been completely devoid of interaction with people or things. He wanted to get the peanut butter out of the bong but he couldn’t figure out how to do it, because it kept trying to get away. With some coaching, he eventually figured out to hold it with one paw.

sam with bong

A few days later, after our regular Wednesday huevos rancheros and a visit to the grocery store, Sam had his own peanut butter bong. We brought him in (actually he followed me and Zeke in on his own) and put a little peanut butter in his bong. Again, it was a mystery to him.

bong getting away

Leah helped him out for a while.

sam learning bong

Eventually he figured it out again.

sam pawing bong

But every time one of us moved or made a slight noise, he ducked and stepped away from the bong. You can see in the picture above that he’s keeping an eye on me.

We also gave Zeke and Lucy a little bong treat. At one point Sam decided to try out Zeke’s, but Zeke explained in an emphatic way that the bong was his. There were no hard feelings.

After a while we put Sam out again. Neither of us trusts him enough to let him stay inside unsupervised, and, as I mentioned above, we are not really committed to keeping him. He stared at us for a while through the storm door and then went out to his house.


Poor gone possum*

We have had problem possums and raccoons around here for about as long as we have been feeding cats outside. We have relocated a lot of both over the years (possums and raccoons, not cats). They have stayed away for the last couple of years, but within about the last week a possum has been raiding the cat food trays Leah puts in the garage. So I pulled out the old live trap and set it Tuesday night. I meant to check it before we went to bed, but I forgot. This is who I found in the trap Wednesday morning.


This was our trespassing possum in the cage in the bed of my truck. He was an unhappy and messed up possum. In our experience, they always relieve themselves when trapped, so the garage floor under the trap was nasty. I think this possum was fairly old. It was large and its teeth seemed dark.

I have always tried to relocate our possums and raccoons down in Texas Valley away from civilization, such as it is here, and near water. A few miles from where Fouche Gap Road reaches the floor of the valley there is a small, perennial stream that seems like a reasonable place for a possum or raccoon to live. When I reached the stream Wednesday morning, the possum did not want to leave the trap. I had to upend the trap and shake him out. He stayed immobile for a few minutes.


He was probably confused; maybe he expected to end up inside some animal’s stomach rather than in the woods. He was gone by the time I turned the truck around and left.

I have read that animals often do not survive relocations like this. They are released into a strange environment, not knowing where to find food or shelter and probably competing with an existing population. I like to think they have a fighting chance, but, really, I have no way of knowing.

* Some people insist that the American possum is actually an opossum, and that “possum” is the correct name for an Australian marsupial not related to our opossum. I say that an animal’s name is what it’s called, and the American opossum is called a possum. It has a scientific name, Didelphimorphia, which is just fine, but none of our possums answer to that.

Hummers, mantises and caterpillars

The hummingbirds have been with us all summer, flocking around the feeder and usually draining it once a day. We sometimes see a dozen at a time.

This is the time of year that other things start showing up. We have been noticing praying mantises in the last few weeks. This one thought the hummingbird feeder would make a good hunting ground.

mantis and hummer


Sunday afternoon I noticed this caterpillar eating leaves on one of our crepe myrtles.

caterpillar top


It looks like a Chinese dragon. The four yellow spots on its back are actually some kind of hump.

caterpillar side


I have no idea what this one is. Does anyone else know?