The human voice amidst the sounds of carnage was loud and authoritarian; though it garnered no obedience. I raced out as fast as my sleep-interrupted mind and cartilage-less knee would allow. Which isn't all that fast.
The scene in the den was one of total chaos and destruction. Frank had retreated into the kitchen to get a paper towel, DiNozzo was attacking Chloe. Chloe was grabbing McGee's face. And McGee was trying to swallow something that was obviously larger than his throat.
Of course, Frank offered no answers to any questions I shouted. I grabbed McGee and separated him from Chloe's grasp while Frank grabbed DiNozzo. We moved them to opposite corners. I finally understood from the guttural native grunts and pieced together words that McGee had a bird. The bird had innocently decided to weather the blinding storm raging outside on our porch.
I was able to open McGee's mouth and shake out a fairly large fat sparrow. Maybe it was a large fat wren. I don't
really know, because it was immediately grabbed up by Chloe who was waiting just out of my peripheral
vision for this exact chance.
It seems she had gotten the bird first. It commenced to fluttering in her mouth, surprising her. So when she opened her mouth, McGee was right in there to grab it from her. She was not happy and retaliated, hoping to slash his throat and gain back her prize.
DiNozzo was just not happy he missed the whole beginning and he had grabbed a piece of McGee's haunches and tried to make him give up the bird by making him yelp. It wasn't working until i got there.
Chloe is much more difficult to make open her mouth. Being 9 years with us and having eaten her share of poop, she was very used to me trying to get that out of her mouth. She had developed rock solid jaw clenching muscles that served her well in this case.
Right into DiNozzo's waiting maw.
I was pretty sure by now the bird was fairly well dead. It had gone through all three dog's mouths and probably commited suicide in Chloe's poop mouth. I know I would have.
DiNozzo was divested of the bird after I grabbed his upper jaw (don't ever grab the lower one or you could break it) and pried his mouth open. Amazingly, the bird fell out on my new expensive oriental rug. Quickly and without thinking -- much --I grabbed it barehanded.
I had won the coveted prize! Never had I dreamed 15 minutes earlier that the question of what to do with a bird in hand would be my driving focus. "They" who say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush never woke up with bassets.
Everyone was fine, not a mark on anyone. Well, except for that bird. I am pretty sure he didn't make it. I put him outside over the fence just in case he made a miraculous recovery as an Elijah bird. I doubt it, but one never knows. I have seen opossums return from the "dead".
I, of course, did not return to sleep.