squirrels

My dogs truly completely hate these creatures.

I am beginning to feel the same, the way these fluffy-tailed rats dig up my seed beds, planters and flowers to bury… what? There are no acorns yet. Maybe they are burying the sunflower seed I put out for the songbirds. They hang upside-down munching away while the birds wait their turns in top tree branches.

Then the hounds are loosed.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu streak out the back door, flat out the entire 25 yards to the feeders while the squirrels nonchalantly swing down from their posts of fatness to idly climb the nearby trees. They know Lily and Lulu can’t follow them up there. No sooner are the dogs back inside than the squirrels are back at the feeders so we loop this circuit over and over until the squirrels finally give up. The birds resume their feasting until the squirrels come back again, which they always do.

Where I moved from there was a neighbor I was told a couple of blocks away who used squirrels for target practice with a BB gun. He was a lousy shot. I replaced 3 windows in the 5 years I lived there. Four, if you count the side window that was lost to a neighbor’s fireworks misfire.

The late Bob Ross, the television landscape oil painter/teacher had a rescued baby squirrel he sometimes carried in his shirt pocket on tv as he painted. He named this squirrel Peapod. Well once you name something you have claimed it for your own, which he did. Evidently this relationship was congenial. I was not a regular viewer of the program but the times I did see it when Mr. Ross spoke of this squirrel or had him on he never mentioned that it bit him, scratched him or did any other squirrelly things.

Not likely but I do hope my dogs do not ever catch one. Pretty sure husky-mix Lily would make quick work of it. Terrier-mix Lulu is more likely to want to play with it, I think, but I hope she never catches one all the same.

The other day as we wound up our nature park walk we came across an adolescent (?) squirrel lying on the path ahead of us. At first I thought perhaps he fell out of his nest as they sometimes do and was stunned. As we got closer I saw he had no head. Likely some owl or hawk got him and was too eager to begin its feast before dining properly atop a tree branch or electrical pole and dropped the remainder of him. Just as glad I saw it and retrieved it before the dogs did.

Drama of nature.

Baby somethings

We all know this. Everything doesn’t start out full grown, fully knowing its purpose in life. Everything starts as a baby something… insects have larva, bears have cubs, foxes have kits, dogs have puppies. But there are many of these that we never see as a baby.

Anybody who gardens knows what caterpillars do to tomatoes, cabbages, squash. Then they become some sort of harmless moth, but their babies do a lot of damage to become that moth.

Puppies and kittens, though they do some things we don’t like- basically gnaw on chair legs or eat an entire slipper, are so darned cute we don’t really mind.

Other baby things we’d rather just not see like spiders or alligators.

But I had never, until a few days ago, seen a baby squirrel.

I’d been hearing great horned owls every night for several nights. It’s a welcome, comforting sound to me. Thursday morning my rescue dog Lily and I were returning from her walk when I saw her nosing around a tuft of something in the front yard so I went over to have a look.

I spotted a tiny pink thing and as I walked closer Lily backed away giving me a full view of it. I thought at first it might be a mole or a vole but they aren’t all pink. I picked it up… a perfect little creature¬†though by now ice-cold. Who knows when it had been knocked out of its nest. I looked up and sure enough there in the pine branches was a large squirrel nest. My guess was one of those owls likely swooped on unwary mom or dad squirrel for a late-night snack and knocked junior out in the process. This little thing’s eyes weren’t even opened.

So we brought it inside. No bigger than my thumb, perfectly formed little head, tiny ears, curled tail, even little nails on its paws. I wrapped it in a soft cloth and cocooned it inside a rolled heating pad.

An hour later I checked, still stone-cold. Well, I couldn’t bring myself to do anything final with the little thing so left it wrapped in the pad while Lily and I went out for our morning errands. Upon returning I checked again. Still cold. Well, we tried.

Sad to think it won’t have an opportunity to taunt and frustrate Lily someday, but I ¬†imagine there will be others.