Squirrel Tag

One of the best things about owning dogs is the entertainment value. In actuality, I’ve never owned a pet that didn’t provide me with large quantities of inexpensive entertainment. Regardless of the damage; there is always something hilarious about the predicaments that they get into.

I was busy working on mowing lawn, poop-patrol, etc. And Baffy and Opie would intermittently come and beg attention and then go off wreaking havoc on the wild critters that attempt to inhabit my yard. Birds for some reason are a never-ending source of entertainment for the duo; although, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. There is no way either of them are ever going to catch one, but I guess the chase is half the thrill.

Relaxing on my porch sipping tea, I can watch the dynamic duo tear around after the critters and should they luck out and actually get one, my belief is that I can rescue the critter before they do irreparable damage. It was one of those afternoons – Opie was in the farthest part of the yard moseying around the evergreens and forsythia. We have several rabbit families who have attempted to take up abode. Baffy was watching Opie – should he find anything worthwhile, she would be certain to step in. That’s what Baffy does best.

This day a very fat squirrel decided that it was safe to come and wander the yard. Baffy’s ears went straight up as the front paws touched the ground, but other than that she didn’t move. In her alert “Princess” position, she watched attentively as our friendly little squirrel walked cautiously across the yard – keeping a very sharp eye on Opie. There was an ear of corn in the yard, which our squirrel friend had probably abandoned (but not forgotten!) when we came out hours earlier. He had probably been sitting in the tree eyeballing that luscious ear of corn for hours as we worked in the yard. Now, there was almost no movement and it seemed fairly safe. At least he assumed!

Squirrel sat down and began munching on his long-lost corn. His back was to me (and therefore Baffy) because he was intently watching Opie zigzagging through the back lot. Baffy slowly raised up – still the alert princess – the rear end first, then the front. Anyone familiar with greyhounds knows the regal down they have – with all fours squarely under them, butt and belly off the ground – it is the same pose outside the great pyramids. This pose allows them to come to a stand very silent and smooth. Perfect for the prey animal out for a hunt. I’ve actually seen the same pose from the large cats and their movements are so similar it’s absolutely creepy sometimes.

Squirrel must have heard something because the chewing stopped and the ears swiveled. Baffy instantly froze. Squirrel must have pushed it away because he was back to chewing in seconds, apparently certain that there was nothing of concern behind him. He never even looked back towards the house to see the impending doom preparing to pounce on him.

Now began the cautious advance. It is a beautiful movement to watch, if you aren’t the prey. Slow, stealthy, calculating. My guess is, she didn’t even breathe during this advance. For a dog that literally knocks the wind out of me landing on my stomach while getting into bed, how is it that she can be so cautious about the placement of her feet now?

Suddenly, squirrel must feel the gaze because he swivels the head around and runs all in the same second. Now the race is on, who will make the tree first?

Squirrel gets a head start, only 20 feet to safety. Baffy is covering the distance with long ground eating strides. It seems inevitable that Squirrel will not be able to cover that last 10 feet fast enough. Is it an illusion, or does it seem that Squirrel is covering that ground faster? His understanding of the stakes may be giving him the rush of adrenaline that he needs. And then, he’s leaping for the tree . . .

It was a valiant effort on Baffy’s part, but retirement has gotten the best of her. Too many years off the track has made her soft. Had hunger been on her side, the drive might have been strong enough to prevail, but there is no animal in this abode who understands that motivation! And survival instinct will always prevail. Squirrel is now chattering victoriously a safe distance up the tree trunk. Baffy surveys his position and apparently decides it’s just not worth the effort. Opie has come running (how is it that they can hear each other running, but can’t hear when I call for them?) to help his older sister out if needed, but apparently decides she’s fighting a worthless battle and heads out to the back lot.

Baffy puts her nose to the ground and follows it back to the corn. She sniffs, decides that’s not worth any effort and walks back up to her previous perch. The “Princess” pose again, always prepared. Squirrel chatters at her the entire time. I’m ready to go in, certain this will be it for the day – Squirrel wouldn’t dare come down now that he has been reminded there are two of those things in the yard, right? Wrong! Apparently that was really, really good corn. (Have to give kudos to Brent!)

Squirrel begins inching down the tree – cautiously looking both directions this time – keeping an eye on both of the beasts. I give him credit, his eyes watched Opie, but he never once took his ears off Baffy. He wasn’t letting that thing get the better of him again. He scampered out to his corn. Baffy simply watched. I thought he would certainly drag his corn closer to the tree. NO, he simply sat, intently starring at Baffy while he nibbled. Occasionally he would sneak a glance behind him to make sure he new where the Other One was.

As he was looking back at Opie, suddenly Baffy made her move. It was so swift, I hardly saw her move, or maybe like Squirrel, I was distracted by Opie. This time though, instead of running directly for Squirrel, she was bee-lining it for the tree. Hmmm . . . this might actually work. BUT, the queen had met her match today; Squirrel headed the other direction for a different tree. Baffy made a quick change, but the time had already been lost and Squirrel made it with time to spare.

Squirrel chattered at her from the tree, even came down within feet of her several times. Baffy stared intently at him, but never once tried to jump up. I’m certain she was calculating the odds of his proximity to the swiftness of movement. She’d have to bait him pretty far down the tree to snatch him off before he could get away from her. Apparently, she wasn’t sure if this option was feasible. I’m sure there is a physics law that would appropriately predict that, but if at one time I knew, it’s long since forgotten!

Then Baffy began her calculations. Well, that’s what it looked like to me. First she walked from the current Squirrel tree to the corn and then back. Then she walked to the original Squirrel tree to the corn and back. She finished her calculations by walking from her post in the yard to each tree and back several times. Was she counting strides to determine her best approach from each angle? Possibly. I’m sure the unbelievers out there would tell you she was simply following a scent, but please, these are not scent dogs, they are sight hounds. So I choose to believe she was plotting her next attack. When she finished, she carefully chose her spot and got into the ready position.

You might believe that Squirrel would say he had enough of this game, but apparently he had gotten quite a boost of confidence from out witting this dog, not only once, but twice. This time he came down the tree much more confidant. Barely scanning for either of the dogs, knowing where they were and exactly how much time it would take for them to get to him. He began eating at his corn with an eye to neither dog, sitting sideways and giving Baffy a large profile of what she couldn’t have.

As Baffy leapt into action, Squirrel actually paused and took another bite of his corn before gently laying down the ear. Apparently he had already made his own calculations as well and she wasn’t a threat.

Baffy kept an eye on Squirrel and as he zagged for the same tree, she quickly moved with him, but then he abruptly changed direction again and headed for yet a different tree. Baffy tried to stay with him, but the direction change almost knocked her feet out from underneath her.

As Squirrel chattered at her from safety, I could see the discouragement in her eyes. She slowly walked around to each of the trees in the area. The realization that the variables were to many for her to overcome was devastating. Yep, I actually felt bad that a squirrel had outsmarted my little girl. Okay, well, maybe I was just a little embarrassed – after all, she is supposed to be a little higher on the food chain than that. Should the end of the world ever come, I will probably not be able to rely on these pups for their hunting finesse, especially as demonstrated today.

Suddenly as Baffy was making her way back to where the squirrel daunted her. She stopped and looked down. She had stopped by the ear of corn. She sniffed it and then looked up at where Squirrel was in the tree and, I swear to God, she smiled at him. Then she simply lay down with her front paws crossed over that ear of corn. Now there was silence from Squirrel.

Squirrel came down to the base of the tree. Squirrel ran back and forth between the trees about 20 feet away. Baffy simply lay there with her eyes closed. Squirrel ran toward Baffy, he actually got within 10 feet of her. Baffy never budged! Squirrel chattered and chided trying desperately to get that thing off his meal. Squirrel then decided she was a lost cause and began chattering to me – apparently this was my cue to make them go inside.

After about 15 minutes of this racket, I decided Baffy had gotten her revenge. Opie had finally lost interest in the back lot and was up by the house with me so it was time to go inside. I called to Baffy and her eyes came open and she bounced up. She was about to the house (Squirrel still squawking away in the trees) when she turned around. I thought for certain she was going to try to get that squirrel just one last time. Nope . . . Daffy Baffy went back, picked up the ear of corn and ran through the back door.

For a week that ear of corn sat on my counter by the back door. Whenever she went out, she would take it with her. When she came back inside, it went back on the counter. Sometimes she would sit it on the porch if she felt the need to bark or chew some grass, but mostly; she would simply carry it all over the yard. I guess one day she decided she had tormented the guy enough, or maybe he finally stopped chattering at her. In any event, the next time I mowed, I found the ear of corn next to the tree where it had all started. Squirrel was in the tree scolding me for being in his yard. And to some extent, all was back to normal in our little part of paradise. And yes, Mommy felt vindicated that her little pupper had outsmarted the squirrel. Hey, what can I say, no Mommy out there wants their kid getting beat up by a bully, why should I be any different!


One thought on “Squirrel Tag

  1. Pingback: The Rescuer | Life After Reboot

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