A Tale of Two Killers: Esau the Dog and Jerry Lee Lewis
Esau, my shaggy gray walking companion, is known on the block and the blog for his swift and merciless skill at killing street rats.
I’ve had terriers much of my life, but never one that caught and killed with such extraordinary focused ability. Esau catches animals while leashed and before I have even noticed their existence. I now keep the assassin on a short leash when we pass the piled-up trash bags where rodents congregate.
Still I admit to a vicarious pride in Esau’s ability to take down the large, brazen rodents that have over-run my neighborhood.
Yesterday Esau killed a mouse, a tiny, harmless creature that was going about its mousey business along the edge of the Hudson River greenway. Bikers, walkers, runners passed by, unaware of the small lives being lived just inches from their feet. I too would never have known of the mouse’s existence, had I not felt an unfamiliar movement at the dog end of the leash and, looking down at Esau, noticed a small tail hanging out of his mouth.
Without even breaking stride, Esau had snatched the creature from its daily rounds and was busy administering the fatal chomps. I jerked hard on the leash and ordered him to “Drop it.” The little mouse lay on its side in the grass, its hind leg moving as if it were trying to run away. I thought swiftly about how to put it out of its misery – other than allowing Esau to finish the job – but within seconds, the mouse stopped moving. It was dead.
I was saddened by the death, until I noticed a second mouse, its small back curved into a ball, blithely nibbling grasses only a couple of feet away. It seemed to have no awareness whatsoever of its companion’s death or of the fearsome killer that I was restraining with difficulty. Eventually the mouse spotted us and dived into a small hole in the base of a rock from which it goggled its beady eyes at us, before turning tail and disappearing into the darkness.
With the leash now short and tight, The Killer and I continued our walk, each of us displaying a new interest in the many animal holes camouflaged among the rocks.
Some holes are tiny, others quite large.
How many animals live along this path? How many species? I’ve seen rats along these rocks, and my son tells me that further south the grass on the eastern side of the greenway is full of mice.
North of 100th Street, where we usually walk, you can clamber down the rocks right to the river’s edge. Driftwood sculptures rise against the horizontal flow of the river and a trio of well-placed stones, looking like a small graveyard, seems to be signaling across the water to the tall buildings on the Jersey shore.
Back on the streets, Esau enviously eyed another cold killer as she lunched al fresco.
And here is “The Killer” himself, the one and only Jerry Lee Lewis, rampaging through a 1957 performance of “Whole Lotta Shakin Going On”. For sheer speed, drive and raw joyful ferocity, this Killer rivals even Esau.
2010, In the City, NYC Parks, October, Riverside Park, Rodents (other than squirrels), Wildlife/Natural History comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.