"Don, Don, Don!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
That was when I first heard of the conflict. And, now, I shall hand the narrative to my lovely, frantic, wife:
I'm not frantic now, but BOY, I sure was Saturday. We had just picked up our dogs, Jackie and Buzz, from the kennel where they had spent the last 24 hours.
When we got into the house with them, both dogs made their usual bee line for the back yard door. I let them out, going into the yard with them to open up the 'playground', the area that we left wild, but fenced, just for them. They can dig and dig and sniff and lounge, it is there for them...I checked for squirrels, didn't see any, so opened the gate.
And away they ran....surprisingly quiet, was the thought that ran through my brain...then they stopped, and started to sniff and run around a tree. I saw nothing, so turned to go back to the house. But then, I heard the excited yip, then another, and turned back into the yard.
They saw something, or thought they saw something...I walked up the path, not slowly, not fast, talking to them and telling them (ha!) that there was nothing there. But then, my eyes started to take it in, but my brain was saying NOOOOO. It was a woodchuck, groundhog, a large problem!
He was in a smallish tree, a Sumac, and he was having a very hard time hanging on as both dogs were jumping at the tree, shaking it, making few sounds, just a few feet below the rotund little animal. I watched for maybe 2 seconds, and the groundhog fell. I couldn't watch as both dogs jumped on it, and I turned away, running and yelling for Don. There was NOTHING I could do. I knew better than to intervene. Don had told me of woodchuck experiences gone bad, and with 2 Jack Russell terriers and a wild animal writhing behind me, I figured this could turn into one of those times.
I got to the house and opened the door and yelled as loud as I could. He was right there in his shop, but had water running and couldn't hear. I shouted, "The dogs have a woodchuck, on the ground!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
The air started to change color as he ran past me and grabbed a walking stick. I followed, but stayed by the gate into the playground, and from that spot I couldn't see anything but I could hear. He was shouting at the dogs to let go (!!) especially Buzz, and I'm being kind by saying shouting. I could see that Jackie had let go and was running around away from the scene and back into it.
Then I was called........Oh...........Oh............Yuck!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course, I ran over as Don was now shouting at me to grab Buzz, and really, I didn't want to...but I struggled through the underbrush and got behind Buzz. Don was on one knee with the walking stick holding the woodchuck down, Buzz trying his best to stay away from me as he continued his grisly hold on some part of the animal. I had a hard time getting my hands on him, but when I did, I pulled and lifted him at the same time and he came away from it rather easily.
But twenty pounds of squirming, wriggling, panting male dog still wanted more of the woodchuck. Buzz was hard to keep a hold on through rutted, holey terrain. I hung onto him with maternal fervor, and we finally got through the gate. I put Buzz down, closed the gate and turned back for Jackie.
This is never going to end, I felt. I was afraid Jackie would now go for the woodchuck because Buzz was not there. A bloody attack is about the only time she defers to him, and now he wasn't there.
Unexpectedly, Jackie didn't want to worry the the woodchuck further! Don continued to hold it. It was easily 15 pounds. Jackie continued to run up closely to see what was happening, but then turned and scooted away as I tried to grab her. If I got within 6 feet of her she darted in another direction. Finally I stopped, flushed and wrathful. I addressed her with MOTHER'S voice, and she listened.
She saw Buzz, and went to the gate.........and stayed, as I had been asking. I opened the gate, put her through, followed and shouted back to Don that I had them both. My job was done.
Now, back to Don.
Okay, Don here. The dogs were boiling over the woodchuck when I arrived, biting and jerking and mauling as it curled and tried to defend itself. I waded in with my staff, eventually (in perhaps fifteen seconds that seemed far, far longer) pinning the woodchuck on his back, with my staff across his throat. My goal was to immobilize him so he couldn't bite the dogs. I looked constantly at his teeth. The uppers were half an inch long, the lowers were over an inch; bad news chompers if they were put to use.
Woodchucks are bad news with or without those terrible teeth. They burrow under foundations and cause serious problems. Normally, I leave them alone if they stay away from the house, but this one (and he was big) had climbed a five foot chain-link fence to get into trouble. I didn't want him to come back and I didn't want him to suffer slowly with whatever injuries the dogs had inflicted. So I leaned on my staff.
Now the big pine tree in the playground has another source of nutrients buried between its roots. It has been some time since the last of thirteen raccoons nurtured it. It is a very healthy tree.