"Fish Story"

I am about to tell you a Fish Story, but before I begin, I imagine many of you are wondering how things turned out last week.

In last week's DaDane you learned that Jabber, our Great Dane, killed a sick raccoon that was suspected of being rabid. Its brain was going to be tested for rabies. If the results were positive, Jabber faced a strict quarantine that could last up to 90 days. The test came back negative. We have since learned that a third of the wild raccoons in our region eventually come down with canine distemper. Most die. Jabber's raccoon probably had distemper.

Now for the Fish Story. What I am about to tell you is true. Even the names are real. Okay, so I sometimes twist the truth a little bit, like the time I told you all about Operation Hoover, where the government was sending out an army of automated "search and destroy" web robots to rid the internet of useless dog web sites. It could have been true. (And this site would have been the first to go.) But today's Fish Story proves that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The story contains no exaggerations, white lies or falsehoods. It is the absolute truth.

The story begins here. We live in a rural area in South Carolina. Our wooded property is large and the most unique feature is the 8 acre pond that sits in our front yard. Kilmer Pond is home to many creatures. From the end of our dock, I regularly feed turtles and fish. Over the years some of them have become pretty tame. I started out feeding everyone floating catfish food and bits of bread, but now I add occasional delicacies such as raw chicken liver, giblets, and canned dog food. Many of the turtles will take food from my hand. A few of them will eat dog food directly off a spoon. (Their favorite is Alpo Beef with Bacon, but they aren't very picky. Just about anything will do.)

Besides the turtles, I have a favorite fish. He's a large-mouth bass named FishFace. I have been feeding him for a couple of years. He is really big, maybe 18-20" long. FishFace won't touch the floating catfish feed, but he will eat almost anything that has meat in it. Before this story progresses, you need to know something about FishFace's habits. He spends a lot of his time hanging out under the dock. When he hears my footfall, usually just before dusk, he comes out and follows me as I walk to the end of the dock. He stays just below the surface of the water. If I raise my hand, he responds by moving his body. He watches my hand closely. Then I toss a little something to him so he knows what he's getting for dinner. On a good night, I can call FishFace, hold a piece of meat just above the surface of the water, and he will jump up and grab it from me. On a really good night, I can hold the food about six inches from the surface and he'll jump right out of the water to get it.

Last Tuesday evening I was feeding the turtles. FishFace was nowhere to be seen. I had a piece of liver in my hand and I was patiently coaxing a shy turtle to take it from me. Suddenly, and without warning, FishFace exploded from the water. He grabbed 2/3 of my hand in his mouth (all five fingers, way past the third knuckle) and clamped down hard. I screamed and tried to pull my hand from the water. FishFace was still attached. I pulled him halfway out of the water. My husband, who had been enjoying a quiet evening until I joined him on the dock 10 minutes earlier, witnessed the whole thing. According to Billy, "FishFace held on for about 5 seconds. You should have landed him." Right, Billy. I don't know why I didn't think to do that.

Well, after FishFace let go, I was left with a badly scraped hand. FishFace has teeth of some sort. He had drawn blood. (Who'd have guessed? At least fish don't carry rabies.) If you look carefully at my DaDane illustration, which exhibits an actual scan of my hand taken four days later, you can see exactly where FishFace bit me. I think perhaps he released my hand at the exact moment I dropped the liver into his gullet. I can't be sure. It all happened so fast.

So that's my Fish Story. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures of FishFace eating. We will try to take some soon. (I bought some protective gloves.) If you would like to see an actual photo of FishFace, visit Franny's World. At that terrific website, you will find 25 photos taken at our home by Brian Smith, who attended our spring DaneFest with his beloved Great Dane, Franny.

(DaDane of the week is updated with a new illustration and story every Monday.)

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