Poppet Eyes a 'Skeeter
On a typical summer’s day in Attleboro, friendly, furry, frolicsome Poppet is usually a blur of bounding, barking momentum. His many hours outdoors are ceaselessly spent in happy, heartfelt, hopping, heaving motion. Within his crinkly-fuzzed hide, he seems to possess more stored energy than a veritable platoon of motorized bunnies.
While perambulating, this perennially playful pup is neither distracted nor slowed by the appearance on the scene of a neighboring dog or deer or cat or rabbit or worm or bat or snail or squirrel or ‘possum or bird or butterfly. The revving engine and squealing tires of the multi-hued beater piloted by the tattooed teenager down the lane do not entice Poppet to the chase. Nor does the ripely protuberant backside of the late morning mailman. The serried ranks of Senorita Reynaldo’s purple irises along the garden fence hold no charm for the preoccupied pup.
The beat-up bouncing baseball from the sandlot on the corner may ricochet with impunity off Poppet’s doghouse. Streamers from the handlebars of Suzy’s neon pink tricycle will remain unsaliva-ed and unchewed yet again. Today’s folded newspaper will remain crisply creased and undisturbed upon the stoop (as did yesterday’s and that of the day before). Multiple clotheslines of flapping family sundries shall drip and drape and droop and dry across the sun-streaked back yard, undisturbed in their furling fancy by Poppet.
And yet, in but an instant, Poppet is brought to a rigid and immediate halt, frozen in this ‘skeeter stare-down!
Perhaps it was the faint but insistent hum of more than 500 mosquito wing beats per second that has caused our calisthenic canine to become so mesmerized. Or, could it be that the oddly weird and gangly body structure of this nearly-80-million-year-old species has captured dear inquisitive doggie’s rapt and undivided attention?
Being the observant sort of domesticated and house-trained companion mammal, maybe Poppet is taking note of this Culicidaean’s uniquely effective mouthparts — ideally designed for blood feeding on animals and humans. Is it just by chance that the furry fellow is wisely keeping a bit of distance between himself and the hovering mosquito’s saliva, with its constituent components that inflame, retard clotting, diminish platelet aggregation, and dilate blood vessels? At this very moment, could he be casting through his memory, struggling to recall where he last placed his vial of mosquito-repelling Oil of Eucalyptus? Or has Poppet decided to wait out this pesky pest, intending to stand like a statue at a safe remove throughout each and every one of the likely dozen days remaining in this female bug’s life span?
No, not a one of these is the cause of Poppet’s abrupt and uncharacteristic stasis. With the acute vision of his large glistening eyes, man’s best friend has merely focused upon the thousands of tiny spherical lenses that make up each of the insect’s visual organs — looking like nothing so much as myriad translucent limes in tightly packed formation. And, behold! Within the shimmering surface of each microscopic optical bead, Poppet spies an incredibly small yet wonderfully precise and evocative and lively inverted panting image of Poppet himself!
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