Updated May 4, 2017.
Curled up against the dewy dawn in a grassy nest alongside the driveway, Dodger cracked open a sleepy eyelid and peered towards the soft padding sound that disturbed his slumber. . .
He had many nests throughout his kingdom, each strategically placed and routinely used at given times throughout each day and night. Weekdays at dawn, he nested beside the driveway waiting for the man of the castle to leave for work in the big gray truck. He prided himself on this stealth. His humans did not know to what extent he monitored their comings and goings, and all the other funny things they do.
. . . That soft padding sound disrupted the “predictability” of his morning.
His other eye slit open and roamed his surroundings.
There! Not more than ten feet away quietly grazed a creature with its back turned to him. Perceiving no immediate threat, Dodger continued to feign sleep and observe.
No feline grazed thus on grass and leafy weeds. Too large for a fat, delectable mouse, and not annoying enough to be a canine.
Besides, the ears were floppy, large, and what was with that “hop” thing to get from here to there?
Great camouflage; difficult to detect in the forest. Mmmm. Big feet with claws; could be a problem during a confrontation.
The air turned. Dodger’s nostrils flared at the new earthy scent, his senses awakening and muscle tension building in. This was no meat eater.
Blinded by a streak of white, Dodger blinked as the creature turned to the side and grazed on. He shifted uncomfortably, covertly rolling until his four paws where solidly planted on the ground under his hunkered form.
A stubby white tail, fluffy and pert, flickered a split-second in the dim morning, like lightening striking Dodger's brain.
The creature froze, its doe eyes colliding with Dodger’s.
He smelled its terror. The creature posed no threat. Could it be fodder? Fire coursed through his veins as when thrilling to a hunt. His stomach screamed BREAKFAST, but his logic took in the size of it and throttled him back.
Sure, he’d kept big dogs at bay; even put them in their place using tactics that made them cower and whimper at his mere shadow. He’d even conquered those murderous crows, which no longer roosted at his kingdom’s boundary. But tangling with prey his own size was an entirely different consideration.
Mind warred with body. Salivating, his stomach growled in protest at the delayed feeding. Practiced discipline won out. Deliberately withdrawing his menace, he tore his gaze away, lazily stretched, and yawned before curling back up with his tail across his brows to hide his watchfulness. Then, he sighed to relieve the pressure of the moment.
The sassy white tail flicked enticingly as the furry creature resumed grazing.
No sooner had Dodger settled in to ponder his prey when the man of the castle stepped out the front door to go to work.
“Rabbits,” he growled as he climbed into his truck.
The creature froze, eyed an escape route, lit out the driveway and down the gravel road.
Dodger leaped up and followed in its wake, keeping to early morning shadows. The man had called the furry creature a “rabbit”, Dodger thought.
As he rounded the stump where the driveway met the road, he stumbled and gasped in disbelief. The roadside was covered with brown, cotton-tailed rabbits of every size, grazing and hopping. As the man drove down the road, wave upon wave of rabbits, scurried and scattered in front of the truck for several hundred feet before disappearing into hedge rows, brush and forest.
Could one cat stop the furry plague from invading his kingdom?
Dodged shook off the idea and forged a new one.
He’d hit pay dirt!
Struck by the realization, his heart thumbed hard against his breast bone. His mind raced with delicious thoughts.
10 bony mice = 1 young succulent rabbit!
Shrinking back under cover of Sword Fern, Dodger slinked silently down the boundary of his kingdom. Surely some of these scattered rabbits would circle back in his direction.
Two thirds down the line, rabbit scent assaulted his senses. Flattening himself against the dank earth, he stilled. Like sonar, his ears pinged for rabbit sound, like radar they zeroed in, his eyes following, pupils sharpened to pinpoints.
Sheltered by dead branches of downfall, several small rabbits huddled together. Dodger took advantage of a hefty breeze rustling through trees to make his advance, taking refuge behind a large rock. Undetected, he waited for the next wave of air to cover his move. Careful to stay down wind, he crept around behind, blending into darkened bushes. With precise cunning, he gauged his prey.
Like St. Elmo’s fire, his fur snapped, anticipation buzzing across his skin. Golden eyes widened. His claws fisted into earth as he wound up.
The thrill of the hunt was upon him.
With a lash of his mighty tail, Dodger sprang, flushing out the kits; it was divide and conquer. With lightening agility and quick mindedness born of experience, he targeted the slowest, clumsiest of the lot. It was over almost before it had begun, so swift had he struck.
Caught in Dodger’s clutches, the terrified rabbit passed out.
Triumphant, Dodger picked up his limp trophy by the scruff of the neck and trotted to the back door of the castle. This find was too good not to share. Besides, this catch might whet that Abby cat’s appetite for hunting.
He scraped a paw across the glass of the sliding door, knowing the screeching sound of his claws would bring the woman of the castle to open up for him.
She wasn't keen on furry creatures inside her abode, except for cats. So, upon opening, he burst through the door and raced from room to room in search of Abby. Down the dark hall and around the corner; he found her, as usual, at the food bowl. The woman followed.
Dodger pranced and purred his pride, as he laid his prize before them.
His excitement heightened as Abby approached the rabbit and sniffed; she was intrigued. Looking askance at him, he nudged the rabbit toward her with his nose. No sooner had he touched it, and the rabbit jumped up and hopped down the hall, surprising them all.
Abby gave chase, Dodger close behind, the woman on his tail. Through the living room, formal dining room and into the family room they went.
The rabbit lost footing on the kitchen floor and slid into the laundry room, jumped, changing direction in midair and flew into the bathroom and back out into the hall.
The woman ran to the sliding glass door and threw it wide open as Abby and Dodger, of one mind, cut off the rabbit’s intended route to the back of the house.
Switching direction again, the rabbit hot-footed it into the open family room. Upon seeing the woman, it dropped in a dead faint.
Abby and Dodger over shot their pursuit and flew out the back door.
Turning to retrace his steps, Dodger saw the woman carefully scoop up the small rabbit and cradle it in her hands. He followed Abby as she trounced back inside the castle past the woman. While their backs were turned, he heard the door shut.
Whipping around he watched the woman carry off his trophy across the yard and out of sight, while Abby dumbly looked around, shrugged and slunk off to do whatever it is she does as the reigning queen of the castle.
Dismayed and feeling unappreciated, Dodger sat, staring, without seeing, out the glass door.
The furry creature was gone!
That woman was always rescuing things, his thoughts growled in frustration. Didn't she understand the importance of this find and what it meant to him? Couldn't she for one moment have shared the joy of victory?
Miffed, Dodger plodded with heavy paws down the hall to the food bowl. His stomach, having been primed by the hunt, wouldn't settle down until its appetite was satisfied.
His ears twitched at the sound of the door sliding open and closed, the woman’s footsteps approaching.
“Dodger. Here kitty, kitty,” she called.
He swallowed hard the lump in his throat as he felt a spark of forgiveness well up in his heart. After all, if it weren't for the woman who had rescued his sorry excuse for a furry pet, he’d not have a loving home. Who else would put up with his eccentricities and picayune ways, and still love him? He knew his psycho wildness, his split personality, put off other humans.
Never could he resist that “Kitty, Kitty” way she had of calling him, as if he was the only one in the world for her.
Dreamy contentedness smoothed his irritation as he floated down the hall toward the mesmerizing voice luring him into open arms.
Adoring the woman with his eyes, he sank into the love and praise she lavished with every stroke across his chinchilla fur. Rumbling with ecstasy, he lapsed deeper into her arms.
Rabbits could wait.
This is a true tall tale. Dodger really does have morning nests he routinely sleeps in around our property. That our every coming and going is monitored by him is a proven fact.
A hoard of rabbits live here and really do move down the dirt road in waves and disappear into brush and forest as we carefully inch our way forward in our trucks.
The rabbits are very aware of Dodger and do their best to stay clear of him. It took him a couple of years to hone his hunting skills to catch this larger prey. To him, rabbit meat is a delicacy. He never fails to proudly show off his catch. This last summer he mastered catching full size Cotton-tails, rabbits as large as he is.