The other night as dinner was winding down, Evan -- who always finishes first -- decided to fetch Mollie (our 6 month old mini Goldendoodle) from the backyard.
Thirty seconds after Evan went outside... we hear him scream. We all look up and see him running -- more like flying -- towards the house.
Evan bolts in and slams the sliding door behind him.
Evan: Oh my God! (heavy breathing) Mollie (more heavy breathing) has a squirrel head in her mouth! (more heavy breathing for dramatic effect).
Paul: Evan! (he yells). Don't yell!
Evan: (moderate to heavy breathing) But I'm not kidding! It is really a squirrel head! I saw it!
Me: Okay Evan. That's enough. We are all eating. Let's talk about this after dinner.
The family tends to take what Evan says with grain of salt. It's not that he lies... he just tends to misinterpret situations...
At which point Mollie appears at the sliding glass door with something in her mouth -- like a golfball...
...or perhaps a small rodent's head.
With the exception of Paul - the boys and I get up from the dinner table to get a closer look at Mollie's mouth. We huddle around the sliding door and crouch down to get a better look -- through the safety of the sliding glass door, of course.
Zach: Oh my God! It IS a squirrel head!
Zayd: (starts laughing) Oh my God!!! (more laughter)
I get on all fours and lower my head to the floor to look for myself.
Me: Oh. My. God. Paul! There is a squirrel head in her mouth!
Paul continues eating as if I said, "please pass the butter." I am panicking - First of all - this is CLEARLY a squirrel head. It looks like a squirrel -- hair and all -- that just happens to be taking a nap in Mollie's mouth...
...except its body is missing.
The boys begin the obligatory "Ughs," "Oooos," and "Groooosssss"...
Paul: Boys. Sit down and finish your dinner. (he says sternly)
The boys and I obey.
We are silent for a moment (none of us eating because, frankly, it is hard to eat after you have seen a squirrel's head in your dog's mouth) - as we each turn to steal a glance of Mollie who is still sitting on the other side of the sliding glass door looking at us like, "What?"
Me: Paul? Isn't it kinda bad for her to eat a squirrel? I mean, couldn't she get sick?
Paul: I don't know. (He doesn't look up and keeps eating)
Me: Don't you think we should get it from her?
Paul: Maybe. (He doesn't look up and continues eating).
In hindsight, I think Paul's reaction was a protective mechanism. If he had acknowledged that it might be dangerous for our puppy to have a squirrel head in her mouth... that would have lead to the inevitable:
Paul would have been the designated squirrel head retriever.
We eat silently for a few more moments. Then, I make an announcement:
Me: I'll give ten bucks to the first person who gets the squirrel head out of Mollie's mouth!
Everyone (with the exception of Paul) whips their head around to look at me with a mixture of excitement, disbelief and pure greed...
Zach: (still sitting) I'll do it!
Zayd: (stands up) I'll do it!
Evan: (already moving towards the door) I'LL do it! I found her first!
Ethan: I can do it too!
Me: Well then... go out there and do it!
Zach: Should we use a paper towel?
Me: I think it would be best if you used a plastic bag to protect your hand.
The boys trip over each other to get out the door onto the patio. They surround Mollie.
Evan makes the first attempt but can't seem to get Mollie to hold still. Extracting a squirrel head from a puppy's mouth is delicate work. After a few tries, Zach goes in to show the other boys how it's done.
After 30 seconds he turns away holding his stomach saying:
Zach: Ughhhh... I can't do it. That is so gross. I feel sick...
Zayd takes his turn while Evan and Ethan hold Mollie...
After a few moments I hear cheers mixed with more ughs, oooooooos and grooossssess.
Zayd emerges from the chaos, triumphantly holding the plastic bag up high -- and laughing so hard he is crying...
Zayd: I DID IT!!! I HAVE THE SQUIRREL HEAD!!!
Everyone is laughing because Zayd has one of those contagious laughs. He laughs from his heart... and his belly... He can barely breathe he is laughing so hard.
Me: Oh my gosh Zayd! You are AWESOME! Look at you! Totally courageous. You're like the crocodile hunter or something...
Zach: I cannot believe he could do it. That was so gross. I couldn't have done it.
Zayd: (still laughing).
Me: Okay - so now... we need to find the rest of the squirrel's body.
Zayd: Why do we have to find that?
Me: Because we don't want Mollie coming back later with other part of the squirrel in her mouth... and then throwing that up...
Me: Zayd? Would you look for it please?
Zayd: That'll cost you another 10.