Through the years, Jilda and I have had our share of pets. We’ve had cats, chickens, tropical fish, and dozens of dogs. One thing we’ve learned is that they sometimes bring you unusual “gifts.”
Not long after we married, we lived in a trailer in a mobile home park where the Sumiton Elementary School now sits. We didn’t have an air conditioner, so during the summer, the windows were always open.
The screens were old, and the one in the window over the kitchen sink was barely hanging onto the frame.
One afternoon Jilda was standing at the sink washing dishes. Alleycat (the cat’s name) jumped from the ground outside and onto the edge of the sink through the window. The cat had done this trick in the past, but this time she had a small copperhead snake dangling from her mouth. Jilda’s scream made the hair on my arm stand on end.
I rushed into the kitchen, whacked the snake with a broom handle before balancing it on the broom, and taking it outside.
Not long after that, our German Shepard, Duke, brought us a baby rabbit. The dog had gently captured the tiny critter from a neighbor’s rabbit pen. Other than being slimed with Duke slobber, it was unharmed.
I took it home, apologized to the neighbor, and kept Duke on a short leash after that.
Through the years, there were other “gifts,” but this week Ol’ Hook took the prize.
Our niece Samantha and her son Jordan were visiting from next door. We were all sitting on the back deck, enjoying the afternoon sun.
An Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly fluttered up and landed on the butterfly bush in the flower bed. It was yellow and black with an intricate design on its wings. The critter was almost as big as my cupped hands. Jilda stepped down to get a better look. Pulling the phone from her pocket, the butterfly seemed to be posing.
After Jilda stepped back onto the deck, Ol’ Hook spotted the dreaded butterfly. I’ve mentioned before that Hook is a deaf pit bull with a mouth big enough to swallow a Ford Focus. He launched off the deck, and before any of us could stop him, the butterfly disappeared. Chomp, chomp, chomp.
All four of us watched the event unfold and did a chorus of “Oh, no!”
Hook came up onto the back deck and looked at us all as if to say, “Threat averted.”
If the story had ended there, it would have been a sad one, but it didn’t. After a moment, Hook began coughing and then opened his mouth like he had something hung in his throat.
Just then, the butterfly flew out of his mouth and up into a nearby tree. It sat there for a few moments before heading down to feed on the zinnias in the garden.
We’ve told several people this story, and they all looked as us like we were pulling their leg. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would have been skeptical, too.
The gift here was a story that will be told for years to come. I only wish I’d had the foresight to capture the event on video.