The Prescott Dog: Hazel Howls

Hazel Howls  Editorial

Hazel Howls

Ah, the height of summer, my favorite season, (excluding thunder storms of course). 

All my backyard charges are out and about with robust energy. My favorite 'salad' grass is thriving along the fence line, and the chance for adventure seems to be around every corner.

Tucker and I love to charge out the sliding back door just to see what wildlife we can startle and chase.

"Encroachment is cause for enforcement." Dad says that should be one of my mottoes. He says the other one should be "Vocal for no reason." I always feel there's a very good reason, but service humans don't have the heightened senses we-on-four have.

Lately Mom and Dad have been discouraging the 'charge of the fur brigade.' Mainly on account of the striped black cats that smell up the neighborhood sometimes. 

As I have been told on numerous occasions the waddling cats have a spray gun in their butt that Dad says could tie up his time with multiple 'scrubbies,' (read: baths). Dad says he has an uncle that, in his youth, was known to out run skunk squirt. I don't see why I, Hazel Bazel the Rocket Dog, couldn't do the same.

So now Mom and Dad hold back on opening the door till they check to make sure there are no quail babies (read: walnuts), scorpions (at night), or striped cats. They slowly undo the latch and impede our launch with a painfully slow sliding of the door. 

Tucker actually seems more put out by this than I am.  As impatient as I feel about the slow-motion-egress, I enjoy anything that aggravates Tucker.

My after-breakfast, post-dawn scanning of the backyard from inside the house is my meditation time. I don't mind the wildlife interruptions. Male quail will come right up to the glass to duel with their reflection. Their walnut-sized babies peck around and watch their Dad and boast of how tough their Dad is, believing the other male doesn't stand a chance. 

After the quail move on, the lizards come out. Their occasional bursts of movement always fires up the age-old predator instinct in me. I love the chase, and I think they do too. Some of them taunt me by coming within a tail's length of the glass and doing push-ups. They try to intimidate me and goad me into hitting my face on the glass. That only worked once. Well okay, twice.

Sometimes, Dad would open the door fast and release me if he was assured they would make it to the woodpile before I could make contact. Gosh, I loved that. Until yesterday.

There is a lizard that Dad calls Mr. Jurassic. He is dark, wide, and has a long fat tail. Yesterday Dad stepped out the door and wouldn't let either of us follow because he saw Mr. Jurassic on top of the woodpile looking down at two identical young striped lizards that were looking up at him from the ground. 

Dad stayed motionless watching the scene. The three lizards just looked at each other for fifteen minutes or so, the ancient one gazing down at the twins looking up from four feet away and Dad ten feet away from them. Eventually,  the "twins" took off side-by-side right past Dad's feet. 

When my Dad came inside, I asked,  "What was that all about?" 

"I have no idea, Hazel. It almost felt like Mr. Jurassic was communicating something to the younger ones." He reached down to pat my side and left me to continue scanning.

A little bit later, Dad absentmindedly opened the door to get some tools, not knowing or seeing Mr. Jurassic was just feet away from the door. 

The chase was on. This time, Mr. Jurassic didn't run for the woodpile, but took a longer route along the fenceline that gave me a chance to close in. Dad was chasing me, hollering words that I couldn't understand at the moment. (I actually thought he was shouting encouragement, like when I chase a ball.)

I then got the shock of my life—a shock as big as the time a scorpion got me on the nose. 

I had closed in and was just in the process of pawing the lizard's tail when the Mr. Jurassic completely disappeared. 

Under my paw was a strange wiggly, crazy-moving white thing about six inches long. I immediately disengaged and jumped back, remembering the lightning flash of pain the scorpion had sent up my nose last summer.

Dad caught up a second later and looked down at the white thing making wild 'S' shapes in the dirt.

I looked up at him to see if I was in trouble. 

He said "Wow, that really is effective." 

Then he reached down and grabbed that crazy thing (while it was moving), and threw it over wall where Frank the roadrunner parades each day. Then, of all things, Dad started laughing.

"Would you like to share what is so FLIPPING FUNNY, Dad?" 

He sat down for a minute till he could stop laughing. My ears were burning the more he laughed

"Hazel, that was Mr. Jurassic's tail." More laughter. 

"I broke my lizard?" I asked.

"Well, yes and no." Dad turned to face me and wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. "Some lizards have a defense and distraction mechanism to keep them from being eaten."

I stood up on all fours. "I wasn't going to eat him." 

Dad smiled, "You know that, and I know that, Hazel, but Mr. Jurassic wasn't all that sure, so when you pawed at him, he dropped his tail so you would stop chasing him. His tail will grow back over time." 

Dad started chuckling again as he headed to the door with me following. 

"But Dad, where did the white come from?" 

"That's the underside, and it has a brilliant trick The tail flops upside down to make the perfect distraction." 

Dad reached down and gave a very slight tug on my tail as I walked into the house. I jumped, not from pain but from the thought of losing my tail like Mr. Jurassic.

"Not the least bit funny, Dad!" 

"Ah summer...when adventure is around every corner," He replied, walking down the hallway, his voice echoing. 

"Still not funny, Dad!"


Hazel Howls

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The Prescott Dog

P.O. Box 11868

Prescott, Arizona 86304