An aside…”The Dog in Him”, or “The Death of SkidMark”

August 1, 2006

It’s done me a lot of good to rattle on in this forum about family and justice and murder, but that’s not the reason I originally started this blog.  I started this blog as a sort of depository of pine wood miscellania.  A holding tank for the kind of stories I might tell to a group of friends in a bar, if we had any bars in Rabit Hill.  Legal ones, I mean.

So without further ado, here’s a short dispatch from the pine woods:

My cousin Katherine has a fenced in back yard where she keeps dogs and puppies and rabbits and two of her own kids and one of her husband’s.  It’s a delicate ecosystem back there, a wonderfully complex world, the continued existence of which is based on the tenuous balance of abundant food, interspecies tolerance, and fair play.

So when SkidMark, the black lab Kat’s ex-husband bought for the kids to play with (and Kat to feed) got a little bit overexcited chasing one of the black and white rabbits around the perimeter and ended up breaking its fuzzy neck, There was only one thing for Kat to do: banish the unfortunate criminal from the backyard forever.

Luckily, Kat found a home for SkidMarkwithout much trouble at all.  Our cousin Noah and his young wife Ruth happened to be in the market for a pet and gladly adopted SkidMark as their own.

Noah and Ruth are uniformly admired in Rabbit Hill, respected by everyone in the way that you necessarily look up to someone you’ve known all your life but with whom you’ve not exchanged more than a dozen words.  When someone doesn’t speak, we tend to give them the beneift of the doubt.  Noah is into primitive carpentry and survival camping and made known to the church a few years back that he intended to become a missionary in foregn lands.  He hasn’t left yet for any foreign lands, but the state of the world being what it is, no one especially blames him.

Ruth is just as quiet as Noah.  She stays home and raises their infant son Habbakuk, tends the garden, and looks to the chickens.  Turns out, she’d been wanting a dog for a long time, having grown up around them and finding in thier presence a sort of peace of mind.

So Kat delivered SkidMark to his new home one Tuesday afternoon.  Oh, and he took right to Ruth.  He became, much to Kat’s surprise, the perfect yard animal, following Ruth around on all her chores, never rough-housing with little Habbakuk, never chasing cars or barking too long at dragonflies, and always up for retrieving anything that was thrown in his general vicinity.

And everyone was happy.  Harmony was restored to Kat’s back yard, and Ruth finally had the companion she’d longed for during the long days Noah spent hewing and sawing, hasping and jointing, while the sellout modern carpenters he worked with raced through their own duties with power saws and nail guns.

Happy, until the fateful day SkidMark got into the chickens.  Ruth was in the back of the house — fastening Habbakuk’s cloth diaper with oversized safety pens — when she heard the commotion from the coop situated under the old pecan tree.

Having grown up around dogs, taken joy from their antics, accepted their affection, and studied their behavior, she knew instinctually what was transpiring.  So on her way out the door she retreived Noah’s 20-gauge pump shotgun from the corner of the kitchen, and by the time her foot left the bottom step she was sighting down the barrel at the chaos of feathers and fur under the shade of the pecan tree.

Three shots later and all was quiet.  The chickens who remained clucked around nervously in the dusty morning, testing the splattered ground in front of the coop for stray kernels of corn or elusive crickets, taking care to avoid the mess of dead fowl and riddled canine that blocked the door of hte coop like a stone.



  1. an excellent, if not exactly cheery, story. thanks for sharing. (Really, his name is habbakuk?)

  2. Ditto.

  3. Now that’s what I call pulp fiction from Rabbit Hill. I mean that in the best way possible.

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