Just in time for Halloween

Saturday morning marked opening meet — one of the season’s two formal fox hunts — so I was understandably distracted when Maisie ran away.

Yet again.

I figured that we’d get her later, but this time — to my surprise — she returned by herself.

….after bathing herself in deer guts.

I was dressed in my fox hunting finery, whisking the last flecks of dust from Chance’s coat, when I sensed a presence and the feeling that I was being watched. And then there was that smell —

— like something had died.

I turned slowly to see Maisie gazing up at me. Her hair was spiky and soaked, as if she’d been swimming. But her coat had a slick gooey sheen to it. And clamped between her jaws was a big, bright, bloody heart.

It was so fresh and bloody, it looked fake. Like a ketchup-drenched prop in a slasher movie.

“Drop it!” I yelled. The heart hit the concrete floor with a squishy thump. Wagging her tail, Maisie moved closer with her trademark pet-me-and-I’ll-squirm-around-your-legs move.

“No! Sit! Stay!”

“Martin, get out here!”

what’s that smell? oh wait… it’s me

Martin deposited the heart in the trash and I carefully tethered the dog. Somehow I arrived at the hunt with only the faintest smear of deer guts on my breeches.

Later that afternoon, back at the farm, I scrubbed Maisie from nose to dew claw, working the shampoo into a thick lather. Then I rinsed and sudsed her up a second time. Afterwards her coat was lustrous, a bottomless lagoon of glistening black fur.

She smelled pretty good too. Like Herbal Essences shampoo…

…and dead deer.

fyi: final opportunity to offer up a cat name. Kitten to be named on Monday night.