Mug Shot of Roo, AKA The Kahoo

[Police blotter editor's note: booking video at end of report.]

I often write about Roo being insane. Of course you know I'm just joking. It's a way not to have to acknowledge the truth about Roo, which is not that she's insane. It's that she's criminally insane.

This mug shot was taken while Roo was being detained on a mandatory sit and stay following a series of attempted mouse murders, one of which nearly cost her her life. 

There are loose root systems where little mouses like to while away their days, sitting around and squeaking at the other mouses, occasionally peeking out of their holes to see what the weather is doing. Roo loses her mind when she finds a mouse den like this. It usually results in the excavation of an entire hillside.

Today, our interests briefly coincided. Just at the moment I happened on a trail blaze to photograph, she began bulldozing the 400 pounds of dirt she suspected of hiding a mouse. I went back to taking some pictures, and after a while I returned to check on the Kahoo. She was barely visible, way up in a bramble, digging at approximately 2100 revolutions per minute. 

All of a sudden, something nailed her. She recoiled back and up into the air. She landed on her side and began what looked like a life-or-death struggle. Right away it started to look bad for the Kahoo. She jumped up and tried to escape, only to be thrown back down on her side. She thrashed violently and tried to claw something from her head. She looked like a special effect in an exorcism movie.

Broken shoulder be damned, I had to bushwhack my way up there to get to Roo. It wasn't pretty, but even with an injury, it’s amazing how fast you can move when you have to. By the time I got to Roo, she was in a panic. No one was biting her, and up close it looked like whatever was murdering her was in her mouth. I tried to get a hold of her to get a look down her gullet. I expected to see a mouse with its jaws clamped on Roo's tonsils, swimming upstream from a swallow.

Roo was too distressed to cooperate. She broke free and bolted around a bush and was thrown back on the ground. She was getting more panicked by the second. One of her death throes landed her close for me to grab a fistful of fur and get a knee on top of her. I got one hand on her lower jaw and another around the top of her snout and pried her mouth open. She fought like a banshee, but I hung on. 

There was no desperate mouse.

What there was, however, was a three-quarter-inch stick jammed crosswise from one back molar across the roof of her mouth to the other side, bleeding on one side. She routinely bites through roots when she's digging, and this one got jammed in there but good. It looked excruciating, and any time she closed her mouth, the stick pressed down on the back of her tongue, freaking her out even more.

The last time I tried to get something out of a dog's mouth, however, I learned a lesson about how not to go about dog dentistry. It was the first day with my foster pit bull Sammy, and he was so happy to get a rawhide chew after a year in the slammer that as soon as I gave it to him he tried to swallow it whole and started choking. When I went to pull it out of his throat, his convulsive jawing split my thumb in half and nearly took it off. It took three months to heal.

I wasn't going to make the same mistake. With Roo trying to wrestle free - and this is no weakling of a dog, mind you - I held her down with one hand wrapped in her collar and my knee on her side. I rummaged around in the fallen leaves until I found a fat stick, which I worked between her back teeth. That gave me some room to operate, but it also sent Roo to a new level of panic. The stick in her mouth was lodged in hard. It didn’t want to come out, and I didn’t want to tear her up any more than she already was. Roo fought me, thrashing and struggling, all the way, but finally it came out. 

Surprised and instantaneously relieved, Roo got up. She took a seat. She looked around at the forest. She flattened her ears back in embarrassment and looked at me. She gave me slow wag, her tail brushing the leaves aside. I thought of how I was going to have to comb those out of there, too. 

She came over to me and put her head down and wagged with a low tail, as if acknowledging that if she were a wild wolf without some crippled human on hand to perform impromptu oral surgery, she would have been a goner.

Roo stuck close to me on the difficult trudge back to the trail. The gymnastics had been hard on my bad shoulder. I used her leash as a ling to keep my arm from flying out in case I lost my footing.

The second we got back down to the trail, Roo expression clouded up. She remembered how close she had come to catching the mouse in the hole when she was felled by that root. Losing her mind normally transpires over the course of a few seconds. In this case I saw it happen in one nanosecond. She bolted back up through the brush and began digging all over again.

I had it. It was getting dark. We had a long way to go.

"Roo! Get down here."

Nothing. Roo was orbiting The Planet of the Mouses and coming in for a landing. She was disregarding radio transmissions from Mission Control coming from several light years away. Tearing up her orders. Dancing in advance on my grave, an early one of which she is sending me to.

Generally speaking, Roo is hardly subject to the controls of the police state in which she lives. It is rare for her to find herself targeted by any enforcement action. Only once in a great while does she go so far as to provoke the authorities. When she does, it is always on account of a mouse. They render her criminally insane.

Nonetheless, if this was allowed to go on, it could have lasted deep into the night. I would have frozen out there in the expected overnight low of 25 degrees while Roo eventually went for a swim. There was non choice. I had to re-enter the bush.

Roo had forfeited any mercy. In fact, I was considering framing her for a murder and having her sent away for a nice, long rest somewhere. As it was, I just grabbed her by her collar and hauled her all the way back to the trail. She didn’t like it. But - tough.

When I got her back to the trail she naturally wanted to bolt back to the mouse hole, but I yelled at her to sit and stay. She knew she was busted. 

That is the story behind the moment of the accompanying video mug shot of her.

The Trail Blaze postcards are turning out beautifully. Little artworks in your mailbox.