I’m used to seeing my cats leap through the air and pounce against window panes in my house when a fly or moth sneaks in. Their goal is catching, killing and sometimes eating the flying insect.
My Brittany Spaniel, Speckles, who died in 2007, was also a fly catcher and spider eater – probably learning the method from his feline housemates.
To say I was startled when my current 60-pound adopted dog, Trucker, leaped around the living room in pursuit of a horsefly is an understatement.
Trucker came into my life at age 5. Long legs, lengthy body: Trucker is elegant when he walks and runs. Such a peaceful gait is a façade for underlying anxiety he endures brought on by previous years of repeated abandonment and initially being thrown out of a semi truck cab as a puppy.
Shortly after I adopted him, Trucker also had seizures. He takes medication to curb both the anxiety and seizures.
So, the afternoon when I heard Trucker thumping around in another room, I feared that he was seizing. I rushed in to the room to find him focused on a fly and jumping in the air after it.
Part of the joy of adopting an older animal is learning their ingrained habits as situations arise. Once my heart stopped racing thinking Trucker was having a seizure, I laughed at him and watched his performance.
Trucker has come to my rescue before in the bathroom when black, fuzzy spiders dash out from under floor rugs or across the bathtub floor. I’ll say a gentle “Ooo” or “Eeek a spider” and Trucker puts his paw on the critter, stunning it and then eating it faster than I can retrieve it.
Flies, however, are more challenging to snare. When or where Trucker learned his methods for fly catching still makes me wonder. He leaps into the air, like a porpoise, snapping his teeth together.
He can tune his ears in to hear buzzing across a room: his ears up, eyes wide open and head tilting left and right to locate the pest.
If he’s outside, Trucker doesn’t care about flies. The vermin enter his domicile, however, and Trucker turns into the Exterminator.
One day I trapped a fly in the bathroom and climbed into the tub to catch it. Trucker blocked the bathroom doorway so no one could exit or enter and kept his eyes on the fly the whole time.
One night I was lying in bed, my cat, Joan, was beside my pillow and Trucker was snoring at my side. A dreaded fly buzzed my head, causing Joan to rise and watch it. Trucker snapped upright, his eyes still droopy but ears erect, forming the most beautiful, alert pose I’ve seen him in. He watched that fly, tilting his head to listen. He would have continued watching if I hadn’t told him, “It’s okay. You can go back to sleep.”
I shared my story about Trucker and flies with fellow dog owners. One man jokingly said, “It is a fact that flies have been known to launch vicious attacks on unwary humans and beasts, and they have even been seen carrying them off to God-knows-where. Trucker is to be commended for his insight and bravery.”
Yes, I believe that Trucker feels he is protecting his domain and me when he springs around catching flies.
As another friend cleverly said, “That’s quite a protector you have there. You are one lucky damsel to have such a brave knight in shining fur!”
Yes, I thank Sir Trucker every time he slays a creepy crawly in my defense.
Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author, artist and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. See her web site at www.tracyahrens.weebly.com and add her book, “Raising My Furry Children” to your collection, www.raisingmyfurrychildren.weebly.com