Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Squirrels. Dumb squirrels.

(Warning -- this post may be offensive to lovers of small, furry, and exceptionally stupid rodents.)

I have lots of squirrels. I also have two Dobermans. This leads to hours of entertainment, of the variety the ancient Romans would have cheered in the arenas.

The Rottweiler likes the squirrels, too, but she just isn't in their league. She will watch them out the window and occasionally will amble toward one outside, but there's not a chance of her really endangering a squirrel.

The Dobermans, however, are another story. Our squirrel population is benefiting, one could suppose, from the systematic weeding out of those individuals who don't realize that Dobermans can JUMP.

Arrogance + stupidity = fail, in my yard. Coming to low branches to tease and taunt is not a good idea.

We have lots and lots and lots of trees, most of which are decades old (up to 100 years or so), so the squirrels have ample safety and lots of height if they choose. Most of the year they aren't a problem, but as winter sets in, the squirrels get more focused on collecting their food (a good thing) and hiding it (a good thing) and sometimes on hiding it in inaccessible-to-other-squirrels locations (not a good thing, as sometimes those areas are squirrel-free for a reason) and they forget about the dogs.

Today Shakespeare wanted out the bedroom door. I let him and Laev out, not taking any pains to be quiet about it; anyone in the area could have heard the door bang and my voice and the dogs jump out. But apparently the squirrels weren't listening, because less than a moment later Shakespeare proudly displayed his catch at the door. (I wasn't impressed enough to let him bring it inside.)

I don't know how he got that one; perhaps it was simply too dumb to head up the tree when he came out, perhaps it was distracted and missed his exit. A couple of weeks ago, however, I watched a squirrel get caught, and I have no excuse for the thing.

I'd opened the door to send Laev to her kennel. A squirrel was sitting between the door and her kennel, just a few feet from either, and it didn't run when the door first opened. It did run when Laev started toward the kennel. A darting squirrel shooting from nearly between her feet certainly caught her attention and she chased it to the nearest tree.

I didn't think the squirrel was going to make it; Laev is fast. But it shimmied up the tree trunk an inch or so before Laev, who did a flip as she careened past too fast to turn. Laev jumped at the trunk and shrieked at the squirrel.

"Okay, that was fun, let's go," I said. "Game's over."

Laev looked at me. But there's a squirrel in the tree!

"Come on. The squirrel's not coming down."

But -- squirrel!

Laev turned toward me, hesitated, and -- I am not making this up -- the squirrel fell out of the tree. Almost on her head.

So much for my credibility.

The squirrel hit the ground running, but not fast enough. And it didn't take advantage of any of the three trees immediately next to the tree it fell out of, but instead it ran across flat ground toward another cluster of trees behind the garage.

There is no squirrel alive which can outrun a Laev on the ground. The squirrel never reached the next tree.

But I have a hard time feeling sorry for a critter which didn't take first warning, clumsily fell out of its safe place, and didn't head for the next logical escape route. The way I see it, Laev just improved our squirrel breeding stock.

We've had lots of smart squirrels. At our previous house, the squirrels discovered they could run alongside the fence and drive the dogs insane, just 3" on the safe side of chain link. I'm sure that's what Shakespeare is taking vengeance for now. They also knew how to dine safely at the bird feeder, how to cross the yard without risking the dogs, etc. But this current population, well, I'm not so convinced of their cleverness.

1 comment:

Casey Lomonaco said...

LOL, great post!

I know exactly how you feel!

A while back I had my chow mix down at the classroom and took her out for a potty break with some of my students.

I am not kidding, a squirrel charged my dog! It came about four feet away from where the end of the leash could reach and then turned around and ran the other way.

I was half tempted to let her get that squirrel. Animals that stupid should not be allowed to pass on their genes according to the laws of natural selection!