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The Stories of Animal Control Officers Joe Tuesday and Bill Cannon
(In tribute to Jack Web’s ‘Dragnet’ TV Series)
It was an interesting morning. Earlier, a Dachshund in a dogwood had required de-tree-ing…
The phone rang: “Animal Control. Sergeant Joe Tuesday.”
“Hello. This is Virginia Vanderoot. Do you remove elephants?”
“Where is it?”
“It’s a full-sized basement. A walk-out.”
“No ma’am. I mean the elephant.”
“Well, it’s larger than I am, and all wrinkly.”
“Yes well, they’re hard to iron. Is there a refrigerator in the basement?”
“You better check whether it got into it.”
“Look for footprints in the butter dish.”
“Oh, dear! You’re joking!”
“Yes ma’am. It’s what we do.” She sighed and then continued.
“My son took pictures. Do you use email or fax? I can send them.”
“Just the fax ma’am.” Bill groaned.
“No fax Joe. Use email.” The pictures soon arrived.
“We have them Mrs. V. and are on our way.” I drove while Bill made notes.
“A code 99, errant elephant, is unusual, especially this time of year and in Minnesota. Looks like our petit pachyderm is noshing a bowl of legumes of the Arachis hypogaea variety.”
I nodded. “AKA: ‘groundnuts’, ’earthnuts’, ‘goobers’ or ‘peanuts’?” I was showing off a little.
“Actually…mixed nuts – He doesn’t like the Brazil nuts. (Nobody does…)” Bill looked more closely at one picture and nodded thoughtfully.
“He has red toenails. Either he’s cross-dressing, there’s a circus nearby, or he’s been hiding in a cherry tree.”
“Yeh. Was there anything in the news about a dead Tarzan; killed while picking cherries?” He giggled…then pointed at one picture. “It looks like there were sparklers involved.”
“See the stomped-flat smudge marks on the grass? That’s instinctive elephant behavior around small fires.”
We arrived to find Mrs. Vanderoot surrounded by ten-year-old boys. We introduced ourselves.
“Sergeant Joe Tuesday and my partner Bill Cannon ma’am. Animal Control.”
She nodded. “Follow me.” Around the back we spotted the juvenile elephant in the basement, enjoying a rapidly diminishing buffet of fine nuts.
“We were setting up for my son’s 10th birthday party when this creature arrived and began stomping out the sparklers! Is that normal?”
I nodded. “In the wild, elephants instinctively use their flat feet to stomp out small fires. Oddly this is also a natural instinct for ducks. If the two species are co-located, well, one thing leads to another and wherever there are ducks stomping out forest fires you can be confident the elephants stomping out the burning ducks are not far behind.”
Mrs. Vanderoot made a face but my audience of ten-year-olds giggled. Mrs. Vanderoot continued. “That elephant is the highlight of the party!”
Bill interrupted my ruminations. “Joe, about this elephant…”
“You’re right Bill. We do need to discuss the elephant in the room. Let’s call him ‘Bob’.”
“Can I use the ‘trunk-quilizer gun?”
“Not so fast Dirty Harry. Bob weighs 250-300 pounds. Let’s try enticing him into the yard first.”
We lit some sparklers. Bob ran back into the yard and began stomping away. When he finished we led him to our truck. He just fit.
Bill called and found a nearby circus missing an elephant. They appreciated his return.
Mrs. Vanderoot and her son were in the basement cleaning up. I declined her offer of slightly-licked Brazil nuts, explaining,
“We’re on a nut-free diet ma’am.” I looked significantly at the birthday cake.
A couple of frosted slices heavier, we left. The phone rang.
“What’s that? You’re on the Main Street bridge, trying to talk down a suicidal Dodo bird? We’re on our way. Whatever you do, don’t mention it’s supposed to be extinct!”
Bill looked at me and I nodded. He smiled. This was a two-siren day!Published in