Rudy versus possum causes commotion

By Tammy Keith Published August 20, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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The other night, I heard our little dog, Rudy, barking incessantly in the backyard.

Normally quiet until nighttime, it’s not unusual for him to be losing his mind over a beetle or toad in the dark.

I got my high-powered flashlight that my daddy gave me to use in emergencies, and I went to investigate. I was barefoot, and I walked in the dark through spider webs on the path from the patio to the yard, which freaked me out. I hate spiders.

I shined the light on Rudy and saw he had a good reason to bark this time — a small possum was hissing at Rudy as he ran around it and toward it, like he was sparring in a boxing match.

I ran to the window and banged on it to get the attention of my husband, who was watching TV.

“Come out here! It’s a possum!” I yelled.

He came out, and we started calling for Rudy, who kept getting dangerously close to the hissing, unhappy possum.

I kept yelling, “Rudy, stop barking,” which did not work the first or 80th time I said it. It served only to annoy my husband.

He said he was going to get a broom, and I tried to get Rudy to back off the varmint, staying safely away. The fear of the possum running over my bare feet was in the forefront of my mind, but I also didn’t want Rudy to get bitten.

David came back with a wide rake, and as Rudy barked nonstop, my husband tried to corral the dog so the possum could escape. Every time my husband touched Rudy with the rake, he yelped as if he’d been bitten.

The possum moved an inch each time instead of making a run for it.

I kept screaming and moving the flashlight, which left David in the dark.

“You’re not helping!” he yelled at me.

We both chased Rudy and, finally, I dove. I tackled Rudy in the dark, grabbed him and rolled over on my back, still holding him to my chest. I felt like a steer wrestler, or a greased-pig contestant. Rudy is a half-terrier, half-dachshund, we think, and he’s only 20 pounds.

Still, I felt pretty proud of myself.

My husband took Rudy inside to the kennel he sleeps in.

The possum saw his opportunity and made it to the top of the fence.

My husband asked me why I just didn’t try throwing radishes at the possum. Many years ago, in another house with another dog, a possum caused a commotion. It was the middle of the night, and I just grabbed radishes from the refrigerator to throw at the possum to get it to move.

We took a walk the next night, and we saw one of our neighbors, who actually gave us Rudy when he found the dog as a stray. The man was outside with one of his cats, which was wearing a little cone around its neck and hopping on three legs with a bandage around the fourth.

He told us something bit the cat’s paw, and it had to have three toes amputated because of infection. The cone was to keep him from chewing on the bandage.

We told him our possum story, and he said a possum had been in his garage and in his next-door neighbor’s yard. That could have been what bit the cat.

Closer to home, we stopped to talk to another neighbor in his yard and told him about the possum.

He said if we’d kicked the possum, it would have played dead. He said possums don’t carry rabies, which I later confirmed on the internet is mostly true. It’s really rare for them to, although they carry other gross diseases. I do not want to touch a possum, even with my foot.

He also said possums are “good eatin’” if you cook them right. He said you skin them and boil the fat down.

David said, “For like eight days?”

The man laughed. He said you boil them and then throw out the water and the possum “and eat the pan.”

I’d rather eat a pan than a possum; that’s for sure. And I don’t plan to try to wrestle one, or the dog, ever again.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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