Monday, April 6, 2009
Puxatawney Nightmare (reposted from Dan's Blog)
So Nicole (my girlfriend) came home about an hour ago, stepped out of her car, and started walking back to the house across the parking lot of our townhouse community. All of a sudden a groundhog comes galloping up to her from under the stoop of a house in the next block. Nicole starts to run towards the house and the groundhog just kept coming after her. She turns and throws her empty coffee thermal cup at it and hits in the head. It shakes it off and keeps coming at her. She starts screaming my name and runs to the door of the house. While continuing to scream my name she turns and starts swinging her heavy backpack filled with books at the varment and hits it. That's how close it got.I heard her screaming and knew right away what was happening because earlier in the morning I went outside to try and get a woodpecker to stop jackhammering the metal chimney stack at the top of our townhouse. I saw our neighbor outside starting to do yard work and she had said the groundhog had been in her front foliage and had tried to get under our front stoop to hide. I didn't think twice about it at the time because that groundhog family had been living in our neighborhood for years and I've had many sightings. So back to the present . . .I ran to the front door opened it and see her swinging at this groundhog that is just a couple of feet in front of her. I do what every strong, verile boyfriend would do and yell, "GET!!!" I was really surprised how close this mangie thing was to her. So I grabbed Nicole and shoved her inside and immediately followed her. The groundhog starts to try and get under our stoop to hide, but did not fit. By this time Nicole was hysterically upset. I console her and try and calm her down.We finally both calm down and go back to the front door and look out safely through the glass storm door to see where the groundhog went. Nicole spots it rummaging in some trash that some inconsiderate neighbor had left out on a non-trash-day. At this point, the postman pulls up and starts to distribute the mail in to the multi-box from his vehicle. The groundhog is about 12 feet from the vehicle. The postman points like "look at the cuddly groundhog" and makes a noise to get its attention. The groundhog looks up and starts to charge the postman. He jumped a bit in his seat and the groundhog goes right up to him and slips under the truck, comes out the other end and saunters up the hill across the street.We continue to watch the groundhog and lose him in the brush at the top of the hill. Nicole states that she is not leaving the house until the groundhog is removed from the neighborhood. She calls animal control and the guy on the other end says, "are you sure it wasn't just a raccoon?" Just a raccoon?? Nicole, says, "no, it definitely was a groundhog. it was very close." The guy says they will send someone out shortly.Soon after we spot the culprit in the street again and he's heading back to the same stoop he started the chase from. We watch him go under the stoop which is obviously his home. We continue to stake out his location from afar and continue to try and calm down from the adventure.The animal control van pulls up. I go out to greet him and Nicole walks over tenatively after a minute or so. I start telling the story and let Nicole continue when she arrives . . "so I threw my mug at it and . . . Dan? Dan Burger?? Hey, how are you?" Nicole and Dan B. the animal control officer went to George Mason University together and had just become friends on Facebook a week earlier.So after the short reunion. Dan B. tells us that the behavior could be rabies, but it is mating season so he may be just protecting his brood. Nicole made some reference to her menstrual cycle at this point and we all chuckled.We pointed out the location where the groundhog was hiding and Dan B. walked over to investigate. He takes out a telescoping poking instrument and roots around under the stoop. After about 30 seconds he stands back up and turns to walk back to his van and the ground hog crawls out from under the stoop and starts charging Dan B. The Animal Control Man. I yell, "there he is!!" Dan B. turns around and starts walking backwards and the groundhog keeps coming at him. He wacks the groundhog in the side with the poking thingy really hard. The groundhog tries to attack the stick but then goes after Dan B. again. I look over at Nicole really quick to make sure she was alright. She just stood there astonished.POW!!!!!! I turned back to Dan B. and he's holstering his gun and the groundhog ran towards the stoop and tried to crawl under. Nicole looks at me and says, "must've been a blank to scare him off." Dan B. quickly runs over and stomps on the back foot of the groundhog and starts pulling on the tail. He points to me and motions me over. He digs in his pocket and holds out the keys to me. He says, "it's got rabies. go into the side door of the van and grab the metal tongs tool in the cabinet and a cage." I run over and try to unlock the van, but can't get it unlocked. I look over and Dan B. is struggling to keep the groundhog from escaping. I finally figure out the lock and get in to the van. I'm looking everywhere for the tongs. I look over and there's a pitbull in a cage about a foot from my face. I stop for a second and then say, "hi, puppy." I remember he said cabinet and I look over and open the cabinet and grab the tongs. I run over and hand him the handle to the tongs and put the cage close to him. I look back at the van and Nicole is aying hello to the pitbull which begins to bark wildly at her. She asks, "do you have the keys?" I nod and she closes the door of the van.I step back and watch Dan B. wrestle the groundhog from under the stoop. The groundhog is almost out and starts screaming in a high pitched squeal. Dan B. picks it up by the tail and finds a way to drop it in to the cage and close the door. He ties the door shut narrowly averting being nipped by the angry groundhog.Dan B. scrapes at a hole in the grass with the toe of his shoe and just chuckles a bit. I said, "don't worry about that. This yard sucks anyway." I didn't realize at the time that he had actually shot at the groundhog and only grazed it. So the hole in the grass was actually a bullet.The groundhog had mud caked on its furr and I mentioned that it is smaller than the one I saw wandering the neighborhood in the past. Dan B. tells me that since the groundhog was sick they will lose their mass quickly and that typically animals with rabies will only last about ten days before they die. He also said, that groundhogs typically keep themselves very clean, so the caked mud is a sign that it had rabies too. He said, this one definitely has rabies and will be put down.Some neighbors were loitering about at this time and we told them about the adventure. We're very glad that no kids were out playing or pets were running around or this could have had a much worse outcome. I'm glad Nicole was strong enough to fight off the groundhog and recognize the strange behavior quick enough to do something about it. So the moral of the story is . . . trust your instincts and call animal control if you think an animal is acting weird. I never would have thought there would be a rabid animal in my neighborhood, but it happens.
Posted by Cole