Thursday, December 8, 2005

The Trap Is Set... and Sprung

Some time ago My Fair Lady and I discovered a possum running around our backyard. He shimmied up the fence and took off, so we didn't pay much more thought to it. A few weeks after that, I heard a noise in the ceiling and went up into the attic only to find Mr. Possum crawling along the floor boards and ducking into a crack in the wall that separates our attic from our neighbors (we live in adjoining town homes). Thus began extensive Googling to find out about animal traps, the conclusion of which was that the city of Dallas animal control sucks.

It takes forever to get through on their phone line, only you wind up getting another answering machine that directs you to call another number. Regardless of how close we live to another near-by city (about 80-ft), the city of Dallas had to come and pick up the animal should we catch it and corner it. Would they come out and trap the animal themselves?

Golly gee no, because if it got in then it has a way to get out. Help me, I do love government logic.

Foiled by bureaucracy, I began tracking down how much it would cost to trap the thing ourselves. It seemed to me that all I needed was a trap and some bait. I'd seen roadrunner cartoons, so if a coyote could pull it off just how hard could it be? Home Depot and Lowes both confirmed that they had traps in stock for around $30, which My Fair Lady was agog at.

"For that much, we could hire a hunting party with dogs to track the thing," she said.

"Honey, we already know where it is. Plus, our backyard is roughly the size of a picnic table and that many dogs won't have anywhere to go," I replied. "We only have the one tree, and that many dogs trying to mark the nearest territory all at the same time is liable to turn violent."

We put it out of mind when we didn't hear Mr. Possum for a while, but My Fair Lady's eagle eyes spotted it Sunday night in the backyard. I leapt to the rescue and charged outside only to see Mr. Possum flee my wrath in the direction of our house. Imagine my surprise when I followed him only to find a fairly large ground-level hole into the grandeur of Casa de Skim.

Fortunately, My Fair Lady knew someone at her law school that possessed one of these fabled "Wild Animal Traps" and when she brought it home I was surprised to find it looked like a wish mesh rectangle. There is a pressure plate towards the back of it, so my innate hunter skills kicked in and told me to set the food behind the plate, and then rig it so when the animal stepped on the plate the door would slam shut. Said skills also instructed me to leave a small trail of food from the hole in our house to the trap so Mr. Possum would easily find his way into harm's way.

The voices also told me to burn down the local Wal-Mart, but I figured they were just kidding.

The following morning felt like Christmas. Would we have a furry little present to unwrap, or not? The anticipation was killing me so I raced outside and found Mr. Possum a caged guest. When I arrive at the office, I again tracked down Animal Control and spoke with a rep there who assured me that they would be able to come pick the animal up in one to three days. Somehow that wound up translating to an hour and a half later when they knocked on our front door and My Fair Lady was caught unprepared. She called me later and told me the following:

"That possum was so cute. He just looks at you with these big dark eyes, and he's so sweet."

"Hon, that thing ate its way inside our house," I replied. "It might have grown big enough to try and eat us. Thankfully, we won't have to worry about it from now on."

She thought about that for a second before saying: "Do you think they'll just release it and it might find its way back?"

"Its not like we caged a golden retriever. It's a damn possum. The city is filled with them. If they release it south of here, then it might make its way over to my parents' house and bug them for a while. They already have enough of a possum problem, so what's one more?"

"That's not funny," she said.

"No it's not," I said. "What's funny is thinking about my dad running out in the backyard with his air rifle blasting everything that moves while the dog and cat just look at him like he's out of his mind. That's a mental image that's cracking me up."

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