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the war has begun


I am this close to declaring war on Mr. Harry McNamara's furry ass. He's the cat who lives next door. He lives outside 90% of the time, even in the winter and he has been forced, I suppose, to find food from area garbage cans since his owners (and I use the term loosely) neglect to let him inside to eat or sleep. Usually this is not much of a problem, except in winter when even I am tempted to let him crash on the couch in the basement if only for one night.

But I digress. Last night at 3:15 am, while I was feeding the baby, I heard the telltale sound of his furry ass standing astride my plastic lidded garbage cans. I tried to look out the window to catch him in the act but I was unsuccessful.

Then I thought, if I surprise him out the side door (which is directly across from the garbage cans) he might jump AT me. So I nixed that idea. Then I thought if I can find the flashlight, I can surprise him from the back door. But last time I looked for a flashlight (a couple days ago) I couldn't find one.

I could have turned the house light on in front and went out the front door. But I figured the light going on would tip him off and he'd run away.

Really I was just looking for a positive identification -- that it is, indeed, Mr. McNamara wreaking havoc in my garbage can.

In the end, I did nothing but go to bed with a black cloud over my head.

Normally I'm a peace-loving, live-and-let-live kind of gal. I'm not the type to seek out a cause just to champion it, nor am I jerk enough to kick a man while he's down. I like cats just as much as the next guy, but desperate times call for desperate measures. This McNamara is a worthy adversary.

He seems to think my yard is his personal dining suite with attached luxury spa. He likes to take his morning constitutional right in back, behind the swing set. Maybe he likes the feeling of security the two by fours give him as he's laying cable or maybe the long grass back there makes him think of the good times back when he was a kitten. I don't know, but I find it extremely annoying and irritating.

It occurred to me that we could probably catch him in a live animal cage in the middle of the night. His screams would wake us up but not the owners, as they live on the other side of the house. I am at the point that I am willing to jump in the van and drive him to a neighboring park, located about 35 miles northwest of here.

I doubt he could walk his way back as the trip via automobile would hopefully mess up his internal GPS system and I am pretty sure his owners would not make the effort to drive out to pick him up, thereby solving my problem.

My father has suggested an alternate method of elimination. Back in the day he was pretty handy with a sling shot. Now we're not talking your basic slingshot with a flimsy rubber band in between a Y-shaped stick.

No, this was premium grade steel with a rubber comfort-grip handle and reinforced sling shot. In fact the sling actually had a nest-like cradle that held the ammunition, lest it should slip out of the shooter's fingers.

My father's ammunition of choice was frozen Whoppers. Not the sandwiches you purchase at Burger King, the chocolate malted candies found at the local drug store. He felt they were lightweight and easy to handle, yet when frozen they added that extra zing he was looking for. Anyway, his method was to locate the offending animal and shoot.

But here's the key -- you have to shoot undercover. If the dog or cat or whatever it is that you have in your crosshairs sees you, game over. The animal will just look for you and avoid your house when it sees YOU. Otherwise they'll still frequent the area.

But if you can catch the animal unawares under the cover of darkness, or window shade as the case was with my dad, that's the key to freedom. My dad likes to tell the story of a particularly adamant grey Yorkie who liked to move his bowels in the front yard of our house. Day after day my dad grumbled about the package this Yorkie left behind.

Finally, one Saturday morning my dad camped out in the bathtub as the window of the bathroom faced the front of the house. He quietly opened the screen, gripped the slingshot and waited, Whoppers in hand. It took a while for the Yorkie to show. But nature got the best of him and he eventually trotted over to his favorite spot.

As most dogs do, he found the right area, brushed the grass with front paws and squatted down to assume the position. Meanwhile, my father went commando. With his left eye squeezed shut and his right eye aiming for perfection he pulled back on the shot and let the frozen Whopper sail in the air.

He swears he heard the wind whistle as the Whopper took flight.

My dad stood perfectly still as he waited for the inevitable. The Whopper hit its mark, right on the dog's underside. A yelp permeated the air as the dog jumped two feet in the air. When it landed it quickly made staccato jumps in a 180 degree circle, trying to identify where the air strike came from.

My dad didn't move a muscle, as the smile slowly crept across his face. He swears the dog made one more circle and left the lawn, never to return again. Problem solved.

"You've just got to make sure you're never seen," he says as if I have time (with three kids six and under) to stake out my garbage cans under cover of night.

But it is an idea...


2006-12-05 at 7:31 a.m.

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