Killer Instinct

It’s been almost two years since Gryffin died, yet not a day goes by that I don’t think of him or speak of him. And it’s all Galen’s fault.

The other day, I sat at my kitchen island staring out the window when I noticed a large brown groundhog in the middle of the backyard. It stood on its haunches surveying its surroundings, lowered to the ground, and shuffled toward the house. Then it did it again, and again. I knew Galen was outside, so I got up to look for her.

I knew if Gryffin were still around that groundhog would be a goner.  Gryffin did not allow critters of any kind to invade his terrain.  He’d been known to kill baby bunnies too young and too slow to hop to safety on the other side of our invisible dog fence.  And more than once he got his snout bloodied trying to root out groundhogs from under our shed.

Gryffin, the hunter.

About four years ago, I came home to a stand-off between Gryffin and an exceptionally large groundhog. It was unusual for Gryffin not to greet me in the driveway, so I called his name and scanned the backyard – it’s about the size of one-and-a-half football fields with an island of trees and bushes at the 50-yard-line. I heard an awful hiss. Behind the island, I saw Gryffin and a groundhog in a nasty stand-off. Gryffin was leaning toward the groundhog, barking, devising his plan of attack; the groundhog stood tall, hissing, searching for an escape route.  I ran toward them, screaming, “Gryffin, come!”  He didn’t. I don’t remember how, exactly, I broke up that fight, but I did, and both animals retreated unharmed. I like to think Gryffin would have been the victor had they fought, but groundhogs are ruthless.

I found Galen on our deck, lying in the sun and watching the groundhog. I know Galen saw it, because her eyes were tracking its movement toward the house. I’ve seen her sit on the deck and watch deer traverse the yard.  Sometimes she watches the rabbits, but usually she chases those. She chases birds, too. And I have seen her run after groundhogs that were too far away — despite her incredible speed – for her to catch. She’s brave in the, “I can be brave when I know you can’t hurt me” kind of way. I yelled at the groundhog, sending it scurrying to safe haven under the shed.  If Galen had decided to take it on, I would have put my money on the groundhog.

Galen, a lover, not a fighter.

My little girl doesn’t have the killer instinct her brother had.

No matter what Galen does – or doesn’t do – I’m always comparing her to Gryffin. In living with her and loving her, she keeps Gryffin alive.

5 responses to “Killer Instinct

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