By Teddy Allen
I don’t want the ham and cheese. I just want out of the sandwich.
I just want to armadillo to leave me alone.
He could have money from my wallet if he had any use for it, the armored little strong-snouted nitwit of a troublemaker.
All I want is for him to leave my quite little family and law-abiding neighbors alone.
But he won’t. He’s playing hardball. Now, so am I.
And losing. Losing to a dirt-digging four-legged type so ugly the doctor slapped his mother when he was born.
Anyone who’s lived in northwest Louisiana for any length of time has encountered a possum or racoon or rabbit in their within-the-city-limits yard.
We are not in the “poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed” part of the world, but we’re not 100 percent urban either.
Most of us own trapping cages, mainly for the relocation of possums and racoons. These animals are around because there are woods everywhere but they stay in town mainly because … why do I have to write this? … people feed them. People think they are cute.
And they are cute — in the woods. But not in your garage or in your chimney or on the fence where the dogs can bark at them in the middle of the night.
My familiarity with the Broadmoor area of Shreveport spans more than 30 years, and I’ve lost track of my catches. Actually adopted our trespassing rabbit for a while; I remember he watched the Final Four with me, sitting in a little starter-kit recliner, I think in 2006.
But only one time in Broadmoor or even in the greater Shreveport-Bossier area have I seen an armadillo. Once. Of course, it was in my yard. And of course, he now lives under my house.
I know … I know. “It could be worse.” Yes.
But it could be better, too. He could be living in a cave or by a pond or under your house.
Maybe my experience will help you should you one day get the ’Dilla Curse. Four events have occurred.
First, I saw him in the side yard two months ago. Middle of the day. “Well isn’t that interesting?” I thought. “That’s a first for these parts.” I sort of sheep-dogged him toward the street.
Time passed before event No. 2.
There were holes in my yard. Ugly dents, like a drunk guy would make with a bent spade or a very tiny front-end loader. Different depths. Unsightly gashes and mounds.
Moles? Maybe. Could be an armadillo; they dig in the ground for bugs and worms with their offensive noses. But it can’t be that same armadillo …
Oh yes it could. Went to put a pizza box in the trash outside about 9 on a Friday night and there he was, in the driveway, and there he went, toward the crawl space and under the house.
I set a cage by the trap space. And two days later, on a wet Tuesday evening, I was typing and my little dog, napping inside and above that crawl space, started barking.
Event Three happened fast then as my doggie had heard the cage slam shut I bet and I walked outside in the rain and HELLO! his beady eyes locked with mine, me in the rain, him in the cage, Man vs. Beast and winner, winner, chicken dinner.
“Back in a few,” I said.
Case and cage closed.
Only it wasn’t. I returned to the scene of the crime 10 minutes later to an empty cage, a first in all my years of catching citified wildlife. Heart sinkage. In the rain. Defeated. By a varmit with a shoe-size IQ.
Morning light revealed the tough little guy had used his nose and neck and sheer willpower to make a “V” in the upper part of the cage so he could loose the latch and bust out. That, or he had a tiny hammer and pliers.
Angry? Yes. Impressed? Very. Had to beat the metal cage back into working order.
Three days passed with the re-set cage. Not a bite. Maybe he’d been scared off. I breathed easy.
Until last Friday night when he came running down the driveway, probably just to tease me, a battleship-gray varmint who reached 40 knots or so before running under a small opening on the other side of the house. Little dude can move.
The Armadillo Abatement Process has not been as easy as I’d hoped.
A cage is on that side of the house now, too. It has been a week. No movement. For all I know, this guy and some other armadillos are sitting around a small poker table under my house, smoking cigars and wearing reading glasses and playing cards like those dogs in the funny pictures.
Please tell me they haven’t invited girl armadillos over . . .
Contact Teddy at email@example.com or Twitter @MamaLuvsManning