Loki was my partner.
My soulmate. I loved the gentle giant within him. When Livi came, he was good to her. She daily instigates “dog fights” (or dog play) with him. He plays back, often baring his teeth and sometimes placing his entire mouth around her neck. The first few times concerned me, but as I watched, I saw Loki’s tail wagging furiously, and realized this was play to him.
Early on, I hesitated to take the ball or toy from Loki’s mouth. After all, his teeth are HUGE, and he has the jaw of a Pitt. I soon figured out that when my hand approached the toy, and I said, “Loki, be nice,” he would let me have the toy, and our play would continue. I did keep in the back of my mind that he was a dog. And instincts could come into play at any time—after all, he is a canine.
Month after month, he proved that I could trust him every day, and my guard gradually lowered.
We had a routine, which we stepped up once Livi got here. In the mornings, the two stay in bed until they hear me rouse, and then they both come bounding on the side of the bed. Once I wipe the sleep out of my eyes, we head outside.
Loki and Livi are both curious and will bark incessantly at anything unusual they hear on the other side of the fence. Loki likes to chase squirrels as they run at the top of the privacy fence, while Livi likes to veg under my chair outside.
It was a Thursday morning.
It wasn’t any different than all the days before. I sat in my chair as Loki and Livi wandered around. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Loki dart to the corner of the yard—his tail straight out as he was on high alert—and he started barking louder than usual.
I looked up to see what was happening. In that second, I saw Loki grab a squirrel off of the downspout in his jaws and shake it like a rag-doll. I gasped as he dropped it to the grass and secretly prayed that the squirrel was able to get away.
I saw the squirrel’s tail move slightly. Loki was on point as he looked down and sniffed.
The canine instincts took over quickly. Loki snatched it up and shook it again for what seemed like a minute. When he thought he’d killed it, he released it from his jaws, and it fell, broken and dead, to the ground.
Loki waited by the squirrel. I called him to me, excitedly, as I didn’t want him to ingest the animal.
When he was sure it had died, he trotted back over to me and placed his head, with the mouth that had just crushed a squirrel, on my knee, wanting a rub. He sat contentedly beside me.
I avoided glancing at that corner of the yard as we went inside.
I tried to keep the image of Loki, killing the squirrel out of my mind. We kept to our usual routine, a treat once inside and egg breakfast soon after.
An hour later, we went back to the yard. Loki immediately went to the spot where the squirrel laid, unmoving. I called him back, saying, “NO!” He left the kill-site and went about his business.
As usual, when we returned to the living room, Livi went at Loki. It was time to play! Nervously, I kept my eyes on them the entire time, wondering if Loki was still in predator mode and whether Livi was safe. They stood on their hind legs, growled and snarled at each other, and did what they’ve done—several times a day—since we adopted Livi. My heart quickened when he put his powerful jaws around her neck. I took a deep breath and knew if he crushed her, I would never again be back in this house.
I looked at Loki’s tail.
It was wagging, back and forth, the entire time. It was a typical morning of play.
How does a dog destroy another animal and immediately retreat into everyday daily life? It was a question I’ve asked myself a million times.
I was so in shock when Loki’d attacked the squirrel that I didn’t even think to video or take pictures at the time. I managed to snap a couple after the first attack and after the second, keeping the squirrel’s body as minimized as possible.
I text Wm about the incident. I told him I felt freaked out. His response?
“Good Boy!” I sighed.
Later, as Loki lay his head on my lap, wanting attention, I noticed blood on both sides of his mouth. And a scratch on his nose where his victim had fought back.
I knew that he’d lived on many acres with Wm in Alabama and had the land run. Wm had never seen Loki kill anything, but had seen remnants of carcasses on the carport. Destroying the enemy was in Loki’s blood.
We were all inside when Wm got home from work. Loki and Livi sat by the side door as I emptied Wm’s lunchbox and put the containers in the dishwasher.
I happened to look out the window over the sink and saw Wm with a plastic bag, headed over to where the varmint lay. I turned away. The next time we went to the backyard, there was no dead body.
Today has been a completely normal day for Loki. He hasn’t changed at all from the companion he was before I saw him kill.
I didn’t admonish him for the kill. After all, he is a dog and instinctually sees a threat and wants to terminate it—as he’d done many times before we met.
I am trying very hard to forget that it happened and love Loki as I always have.
Unbelievably to me, Loki just shook it all off and went back to the life we know.
I still trust him to be my protector. And to be gentle with Livi when they play.
I am not sure that I will ever get that scene out of my mind. Maybe one day.
I wish I’d been looking away.