Chester the yorkie knows when it’s feeding time.
When I rise from the couch,
he’s the first to the kitchen
spinning circles as his most effusive
expression of excitement.
He can be very impatient when he wants something.

Except this time, after circles
he out-of-character wants outside,
perhaps a coincidence of bodily functions.
I figure he’ll be back in a minute.
Meanwhile, starburst energy Hope, a papillion,
patiently waits for me to scoop the kibble.

Except Chester doesn’t immediately come back.
I watch for his face in the window
but a minute passes, two minutes pass and…nothing.
Well now I’m curious, so I step outside,
with Hope following, to see what’s going on.
What is more important to Chester than feeding time?

The answer is a different kind of feeding;
a dead bird hangs from his mouth.
Whether he caught it or it happened to die there,
this yorkie has a new prized possession.
I can’t let him keep it, but this is a new problem for me:
how do I get a dead bird away from a hungry dog?

Step one is separation, in which Hope leads,
confused by the circumstance–what does brother have?–
Jealous Chester growls and makes some distance,
drops the bird and stands ownerly over it.
Then I move with a raised voice and an aggressive lunge,
enough to intimidate Chester away–I am alpha.

Step two is a game of keepaway
corraling the dogs who don’t want to give up a prize
played in darting maneuvers around patio furniture
until I finally get a hand around the little pup’s body,
an invincible grip followed by invincible door.
Chester, now inside, can do nothing.

Step three is a different problem: disposal
because nobody wants to handle a dead creature like this,
especially the guy who’s never done it before.
I cringe at the thought of touching the body,
but I certainly can’t leave it there.
Fortunately, I love having a good problem to solve

and I relish the chance to flex some ingenuity.
The day before I bought a pizza and ate most of it.
Rummaging kitchen cabinets and drawers for containers,
I store the remaining slices in the refrigerator
so I can use the box as a make-shift claw machine
for the jello-in-all-the-wrong-ways bird.

Sickening weight shifts plague me,
the body sliding as I navigate my way to the front yard
where an overgrown field is splayed out across the street.
The box now becomes a sling
as I return the dead to the nature it fell from.
I like to think some neighbors were scratching their heads.

The problem disposed, I return to the house,
to the kitchen where hungry dogs still wait for feeding time.
A couple scoops of kibble later,
I consider whether I should text the owners about this
while the dogs lick their bowls clean–Chester a little slower.
I wonder if he was thinking about the bird the whole time.

After all,
wouldn’t I?