Shuggie Shenanigans

Feeling great, everything is great. It’s not every day that Todd’s dog wakes me up at 5:20 a.m. No. Sometimes it’s 5:30. Sometimes it’s 5:52. But today, today is special and TODD’S dog wanted to make sure I didn’t miss one glorious moment of the shenanigans she served up hot, fresh, and dripping wet.

Todd left for work just before 7. It was raining today. I love rain. Well, actually, I loved rain. Once. Before dogs. Actually before these dogs. Let’s clarify that the first two poodles – Pi and Sabra – were not only clever and smart and very well behaved, they did not like to get wet. They did not “do” rain. These two shitheads, however, wouldn’t give a rat’s ass if there was a hurricane in the backyard. And by giving a rat’s ass, let me clarify that they would never share a rat’s ass if they were lucky enough to catch one.

But they CAN catch a groundhog and today, my dear friend, today was no exception. Because what could be better than catching a groundhog on a beautiful spring day? I’ll tell you what is… catching a groundhog in the rain… and ignoring mom’s screams to stop. But let’s back up a bit.

I recently had the revelation that having two younger dogs on a rainy day is like having two small children you have to keep entertained – inside – for hours on end and it is maddening. Been there, done that. Which is why some days I just give up and let them go out. This morning at 7 a.m. was just such a day. I wanted my first cup of coffee in peace, dammit. That peace was shattered roughly ten minutes later as the sounds of hysterical barking rattled my windows.

I looked outside and there they were – barking and lunging at this little thing, because at first I wasn’t exactly sure what it was and was praying it wasn’t one of the kittens from next door – and then this thing leaped into the air like a ninja … at them. This was, to the dogs, game-on. And then, to my horror, Shuggie lunged at it and suddenly it was in her mouth and she was shaking it like a rope toy! I ran barefoot out onto the deck overlooking the yard and started yelling at her. Yeah. That’s like telling birds to stop flying.

I ran back inside, ran to the closet, threw on my rain boots and dashed outside. I grabbed the shovel, because by this time I knew the only way that groundhog was leaving the yard was on it, and of course the dogs were all – Mom! Look what we found! Come play! – and I’m all, NO! Back up! Get away! NO! And of course they’re not listening because MOM’S HERE. I’m alternately waving the shovel at them and trying to GENTLY maneuver the shovel under this little groundhog without injuring her, because she was still breathing and her eyes were open and no visible wounds. Clearly exhausted and seeming to have given up.

So I’m out there in the rain in a t-shirt and no bra, rainboots, with two barking dogs on meth, a shovel, and no other way to move this poor little thing. The shovel was useless and every attempt to grab Shuggie by the collar was fruitless. Finally I got her and walked her back toward the house (head down and resisting because mom-has-you-by-the-collar means you’re bad) thinking I’ll put her inside until I remembered that the only open door was the deck upstairs. So, collar in one hand, I grabbed the rake and walked the dog back to the groundhog and let her go. I managed to shimmy the groundhog onto the shovel, talked gently to it and repeating I’m so sorry.

The dogs were all like, YAY! And I’m still growling at them and talking softly to the groundhog. I managed to place her gently down on the other side of the fence, turning around to face the dogs with a mixture of relief and anger and would you believe they wouldn’t come back to the house with me?? At this point I figured I don’t care if you two assholes don’t come in, I’M going inside. They did run around a bit longer but by the time I’d changed my clothes and dried my hair and FINALLY sat down with my first cup of coffee, they were at the door wanting to come in.

The rain ebbed and flowed the rest of the morning, and after a two-hour interlude of napping, Shuggie went outside. If you’re wondering why I didn’t care if she was outside in the rain, please refer to paragraphs 2 and 4. When she came back, her entire head was covered in mud. She was soaking wet and looking like she’d taken a swim in Willy Wonka’s chocolate river. From the bottom of her front paws to the tops of her legs, her entire belly and over her back, from the tip of her nose to the back of her neck – COVERED IN MUD. THIS DOG. I texted Todd that somebody isn’t going to make it through the day today.

She spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping.

Miscellaneous tidbits:

I honestly Googled, “Are groundhogs smart” because there’s an adult who keeps coming into the yard every God-forsaken day in spite of the dogs who chase it out every. Single. Day. I mean, really. We live in a rural area surrounded by woods and dozens of other backyards that aren’t fenced in with two maniacs running it. Is our lawn really special? Like the Ritz Carlton of backyards?

  • Anyway, here’s what Google said: Groundhogs are an extremely intelligent animal forming complex social networks, able to understand social behavior, form kinship with their young, understand and communicate threats through whistling, and work cooperatively to solve tasks such as burrowing. (Wikipedia.) Now I know what that sound was between all the barking.

Also, while searching for a metaphor I ended up not using I stumbled upon “rituals of the Pope” and here I have gathered some interesting tidbits for your next trivia night:

  • Francis called a bottle of Scotch Whisky he received as a gift as “the real holy water.” It was a bottle of Oban. The Pope is allowed to drink. (Forbes)
  • Although the Pope takes a vow of celibacy, he does not need to be a virgin.
  • Popes are buried in three coffins. The first is a cypress coffin, signifies that the Pope is an ordinary man like anyone else. The second, a lead casket, signifies durability. The third, an elm casket, signifies the dignity of the papacy (elm is rare in Rome). (
  • The Pope’s ring – a signet called “The Fisherman’s Ring” is worn to sign and seal documents – is destroyed on his death to prevent falsifying of documents. It depicts St. Peter as a fisherman and has the Pope’s name inscribed on it. The symbol has been used since the 13th century. (
  • Francis raised a stir in 2019 when he began pulling his hand away from the faithful who wanted to kiss the ring. Reason: hygiene. He did not want to spread germs. (
  • The tomb of Pope John XXIII (known as The Good Pope) was opened 38 years after his death and he appeared as though he had died “yesterday.” (ABC news, 2001)

The chocolate river in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) was made of 150,000 gallons of water, real chocolate, and cream. The cream eventually began to spoil and by the end of filming the river smelled terrible. (

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