The bane of canines: squirrels

By Marti Benson

Are we alone? Good, because this is something we should keep between just us humans.

January 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day. I was reading an article about it and found some suggestions about how to celebrate. It mentioned leaving healthy snacks out for squirrels, watching documentaries to learn more about them, and changing your Facebook profile or desktop screen to pictures of squirrels. I don’t know about you, but I know my dogs would not appreciate having their photos replaced by “The Enemy.”

Our dogs devote a great deal of time and energy to keeping the squirrels in our yard in line. As the fruit on our two peach trees begins to burgeon, our boys patrol the branches. A flash of a fuzzy tail or the quiver of a bough, and the frenzy begins. The haughty rodents chatter mockingly, and Chip and Ernie shout back in a special high-pitched bark used to alert us of the marauders. 

Half-eaten peaches are tossed like gauntlets, and the frantic chase down the wooden fence ensues. Even Johnny Cash lopes along after his smaller and faster brothers, and barks deeply in solidarity. The cushions on the chaise lounges also must be protected. Without our dogs to stand sentinel, the pillows fall prey to the aggressive gutting of the gutsy little varmints. 

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were summoned to the back fence by Chip. We watched incredulously as one of the buggers stole our small U.S. flag and dragged it into a hole in one of our trees. I am certain we will find remnants of red, white and blue on the ground below when the flickers take over the nest in the spring and commence their house cleaning and re-decoration efforts.

Don’t get me wrong—I think squirrels are cute, even amusing, at times. I admit that I have doled out a peanut or two to several that have all but knocked on our deck door to pitifully plead for a morsel. And while I try to do this without my dogs knowing, I’ve been busted. Face to face with the brazen beggars, the dogs snort, whinny and lunge at the glass—then look back at me as if I’m the nut. “Are you kidding?” they seem to say. “Those are squirrels!”

I won’t be going out on a limb for Squirrel Appreciation Day. I’ll smile from the kitchen window as they maneuver along the wire to the bird feeder. I’ll be a little more mindful of their sudden darting into the street—then changing their mind at the last minute. I’ll even look the other way as they scurry along the lights traversing the back deck. Heck, they’ve chewed most of them off anyway. But I most certainly will not divulge to the dogs that such an event exists.

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