They caught one! They actually did it! I never thought I’d be burying a squirrel caught by my squirrel-chasing dogs. I’ll call him ‘Little Guy’. Probably one of the little acrobats I enjoy watching run around our trees like they’ve had a triple shot of espresso. I call them North Carolina’s monkeys. Such fun to watch if you’re not a “hater” who calls them “nothing but rodents.” This one might not have been the brightest squirrel in the bunch. Herd, crop? What do you call a group of squirrels?
I Googled it. Whether it’s a nest of squirrels, or simply the squirrel nest sans squirrels, or a mother squirrel and her young, all are called a dray. Never heard of it. A scurry is a group of squirrels but according to Google, they are pretty solitary animals so a scurry is uncommon. Maybe it’s uncommon in Google’s yard but it’s the norm in our yard. We have our own personal squirrel circus.
I spend too much of my writing time gazing out the window over my desk, watching groups of squirrels scurry, chasing each other all around the mulberry tree. No, I’m not trying to be cute. We have lots of mulberry trees, not bushes, which make great jungle gyms for our squirrel population. Plus providing sumptuous berries for them and their friends, the birds, bunnies, and deer. Since the woods beyond our farm are being replaced with “add water and a house pops up overnight” neighborhoods, Rocky, Thumper, and Bambi all happily frolic and forage in our back yard. (For younger readers, Rocky was a famous squirrel on a show called Bullwinkle; Thumper, a bunny who thumped his large foot was Bambi’s buddy; Surely you know Bambi, the Disney deer.)
Heading out the front door to feed horses, our three dogs rushed past, nearly knocking me down the brick steps as they headed toward a squirrel they’d spotted across the yard. The reason I think Little Guy might not be so bright is because he was safely behind a wire horse fence doing his squirrel business. He was gathering something or other when the dogs ran toward him. He could have stuck out his tongue and said, “Na Na, Na Boo Boo!” while staying put, but No! He ran under the fence gate, straight at the barking dogs coming his way. He ran to a big oak tree where the dogs did a sneaky partner maneuver, each coming around the tree from different directions where he was intercepted.
It happened so fast all I could do was yell from a distance. I yelled so loud I scared the horses and the dogs. Now my throat hurts. I don’t want to name names because all three dogs have reputations to protect. Any of the three could take blame for this involuntary ‘squirrelslaughter’ so I’ll keep it confidential. When I yelled, they looked up at me in surprise. One opened up, dropped the limp victim beneath the tree and looked sheepish, grinning guiltily. Probably planning to bring the critter to me as a gift as our cats do with lizards, they looked puzzled that I wasn’t thrilled. They all obeyed without question, which was a big shocker for me, too.
I watched my very gentle, kind-hearted dog tuck tail and take off for the front door. When the accused looked back at me for mercy, I fussed some more. I said it was a bad thing to do—to kill the squirrels that play keep away with them every day. Head down and tail tucked tighter, my message sank in. The other two doggies stayed away from me, their fussing, disappointed human. And here I have been worried about this season’s silly rabbits nesting under our back deck, wandering into the dogs’ wooden fence to eat beneath the squirrel resistant feeder. It isn’t. Resistant.
Little Guy didn’t have a chance. He could have chosen any of three sweet gum trees within the horse fence. But he made a different choice. He took the road more traveled, the tree, less handy. I’ve always wanted to touch a squirrel but not this way. Lying on his back in my hand, I carried his warm, little body to the compost area to bury him. I was surprised that he was soft like a bunny. I assumed squirrels were coarse. I was also surprised how tiny his teeth were. Dang! Those little teeth rip through walnut shells and shingles?
I indulged myself in some “What ifs.” What if his family is watching me and thinks I killed him? What if I’d been five minutes later going out to feed the horses? What if I hadn’t invited the dogs to go out front in my effort to protect the silly rabbits out back? Hopefully he’s already scurrying around on a road lined with nut trees and paved with acorns. Rest in Nut Heaven, Little Guy.
May 11, 2016 at 1:33 am
You handled it like a Champ!
May 11, 2016 at 11:27 am
They’re cute, but not so much when they end up in your attic. 🙁
May 25, 2016 at 9:56 pm
Hey Jill. Thanks for the comment on my blog about my mother. I saw it one minute and it went away the next. Some crazy glitch? Anyway, I’d love it if you would post it again. I’m sharing these with my mom. Hope you are doing well. Thanks again. Lisa
June 4, 2016 at 4:17 am
Sounds like the voice of experience.
June 4, 2016 at 10:26 am
Unfortunately yes. 🙁
May 23, 2016 at 12:35 pm
It seems that Mother Nature is alive and well in your back yard. When our dogs were younger, they’d go after the bunnies in our fields, and if they caught one, they eat it. UGH. Now the old girls look for bunnies, but it’s all for fun. Much better 🙂
June 4, 2016 at 4:20 am
You got that right. We adjoin a large park so between the park wildlife and our residents, we are where the deer and the antelope play along with the rest of the petting zoo. I have to yell out the door that the dogs are coming when I let them out. I figure the squirrels and bunnies need a head start. Good luck to your bunnies in case your old girls have a good day.
June 4, 2016 at 1:19 pm
I love it that you have a yell a warning to give the wildlife a head start. There is something sacred about living surrounded by nature’s creatures 🙂
May 24, 2016 at 9:09 pm
Aww . . . that would make me sad, too. But, as the song says, it’s the Circle of Life. RIP, Little Guy.
June 4, 2016 at 4:21 am
Thanks for the condolences. The funeral was a little under-attended with just me but that’s ok. He had one. Who knows how many critters paused and attended from afar.
May 30, 2016 at 7:30 pm
Aw, so sad. Poor little guy. If they weren’t so indecisive maybe… Well written in spite of the sadness! 😢
June 4, 2016 at 4:23 am
It was sad. They are indecisive critters. I’ve stopped my car too many times to count for a “thinker” in the road. Thanks for the compliment.
June 2, 2016 at 7:06 pm
Maybe his comrades learned something by watching his demise. I am enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for liking mine. We’ll follow each other.
June 4, 2016 at 4:24 am
I think you’re right. I’ve seen a few groups of four or five hanging together. Think they want to divide and conquer. Look forward to reading your words. Thanks.