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  • Phyllis H. Moore

I'm A Dog Person, But Pippi Is My Hero

Gophers are the demons of the underworld. That's my opinion. After I saw one in person, I began to think they were cute, but they cause devastation to the sprinkler system and garden. I like to garden. It's one of those things a person can do mindlessly while being outside in the sunshine. After the chore is complete, there is something to show for it, maybe even a fruit or vegetable.

I don't mind a project in the garden. I like to peruse a magazine in the hardware store and pick out something that might fit my yard, a paved patio, or outdoor fireplace. I have tried every type of flower bed edging and have settled on the angled edge with no physical border. It is easier to maintain and there are no borders to install. I only came to this resolution after installing and pulling up metal and rubber that had been mown over, rusted or flattened. However, pavers, manicured edges, and planted beds are vulnerable to those little furry rodents of the underworld. They mounded heaps of dirt over night in dunes across the yard, pulling up ferns and bulbs and heaving pavers on the patio. They dug around thick layers of ground cloth and through tamped crushed granite. I declared war.

The first thing I tried was poison peanuts. They sell these things in cones at the feed store. Fail. There were more mounds than before. Then, we purchased sonar pegs that cost so much money you know they will work, but our gophers hung disco balls and danced to the pulsing ground while we slept dreaming of dead furry bodies in tunnels underground. When I went into the yard and saw more dunes and heard the little suckers laughing. I sent mental picutres to Ollie Bubba, my Jack Russell Terrier, (I thought they were supposed to be hunting dogs.), to decapitate as many as he could find and I would give him treats forever. He just walked off and smoked a cigar. I was on my own. So, I lifted my head to the sky and held my muddy, gloved hands up and yelled, "send me something to get rid of these damn gophers!"

A week after my mental break-down in the backyard, a black cat with a white face began lurking in the woods beyond the yard. I call the cat, Pippi, and refer to it as "she", but I have no idea what gender this cat is. In a week's time, she had edged closer to the yard and eventually came inside the fence. Ollie chased her a couple of times, but she was not afraid and came right back each time. She began sleeping on the porch and looking in the door. Then one day, there it was the biggest, plumpest, gopher I have ever seen, dead, on the step. Pippi sat beside it, chest out, mewing. She began eating her way across the yard, a gopher a day, not asking for anything but a little affection from Ollie Bubba. He's not much on affection, but he does let Pippi wind her way around him while he stands still for a few minutes, then he huffs and walks off, like he is doing her a favor. She has worked her way be

yond the yard and has cleared the gopher mounds in the pasture for as far as we can see.

Pippi is the best cat in the world. She finds water and food on her own. She greets us when we return from being gone for weeks at a time. She throws herself down in front of Ollie and rolls over on her back, embarrassing him until he looks over his shoulder to make sure no one is looking. I have pointed her out to all the neighbors, the closest is maybe a quarter of a mile away. No one claims her, but they say she is marked like many of the cats that wander up from time to time. She's a feral cat with claws and teeth for hunting. Her only bad habit seems to be leaving little gopher heads on the steps. I don't care. I think they might be good compost. She's my hero.

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