January 11, 2006


Here in suburbia, we have a healthy population of squirrels. I consider them entertainment, enjoying their antics as they chase each other through the treetops. Truly it is amazing how even the thinnest branches serve as their highways and byways. They build enormous nests high up in the treetops, visible only during winter when there are no leaves to obscure the view.

Pixie adores chasing them. She'll stand just outside the doggie door, poised and alert, surveying the backyard for signs of motion. Then bang! She's off! She flies across the yard in hot pursuit. That dog gets some air under her! The squirrels have no trouble evading her. They run along the top of the fence, taunting her.

Squirrels are not trained by their parents to look both ways before crossing the street. We have a neighbor who takes it upon himself to scoop up the local victims and give them a proper burial. At least that's what I tell myself: he buries them with full honors and a prayer or two. I've blocked from my mind the time I saw him unceremoniously dump a corpse right from his shovel directly into his trashcan. Yet I'm grateful he does it. Whatever it is he does.

And then there is Thomas, the cat who lives next door. Squirrels mean something different to him. Here he is perched on his own personalized stump, relaxing on a summer morning. He's a beautiful boy, yes?

Thomas is a mighty hunter, a successful one. Gifts of dead suburban wildlife are often left in strategic locations to be discovered by his owner. Birds and squirrels and mice, oh my! He's so proud.

One day as I got in my car, I noticed him crouched alertly near the base of a pine tree in our yard. As he slinked toward the tree, I spied his prey; a squirrel was huddled at the base of the tree. It was evident Thomas had already caught up with him at least once already: the squirrel had visible scratches on his back. Ack!

Now far be it from me to interfere with Mother Nature at work. Cats kill things, it's what they do. Some of them. But damned if I was going to watch it happen in our yard! I got out of my car and chased Thomas to the other side of his driveway. But by the time I got back in my car and refastened my seatbelt, he was again creeping toward the injured squirrel!

Again I lunged out of my vehicle, this time waving my arms and shouting. Stop for just a moment and envision that. Yes, I looked as ridiculous as you just imagined. That time I chased Thomas all the way across his front yard into the next neighbor's zone. All my shouting and waving got him moving pretty quick. Run, Thomas, run!

As I backed down our driveway, the squirrel was still quivering at the base of the tree. Poor thing. Yet catching a squirrel and tending to its medical needs was just not on my list of things to do that day. I om-mani-pedme-hung'd him and drove off to work. There was no sign of either Thomas or the squirrel when I returned several hours later.

So take that situation.
We know WTWD.
And we know WIWD.
So the question becomes, WWYD?



Anonymous said...

You know...I explain it as "the structure of things." It allows me to eat cows, pigs, and chickens and let my cat and dog kill as they naturally do. In reality, I block the whole thing from my mind. So, WWSD? "Squirrel, what squirrel?"

tiff said...

I agree with the Princess, unless my dogs were, say, trying to kill another dog. As they did try to do yesterday afternoon. While it was taking a walk with it's older-lady owner.
In that case, I broke up Mother's Nature's grand design, picked the woman up off the sidealk, and offered to pay any bills coming from the repair of any damage done to her or her dog.
This is NOT the way I try to make friends, BTW.

tiff said...

Please forgive the misplaced apostrophe in "it's." Yikes.

cbar said...

Here is something you should know about me, I had squirrels. I hate them with a passion unknown for something so small and seemingly innocent. I HATE THEM!!

All that being said, I'm not heartless and I think if I would have seen the poor thing quivering and shaking from injury, I would have chased the cat away as well. I just couldn't have touched it. Squirrels carry all kinds of diseases, I know it!!! : )

Gina said...

No, I wouldn't have been able to stand the carnage happening in my yard either.

I would have chased the cat away for sure.

The injured squirrel? A bit harder...

Anonymous said...

Liz from I Speak of Dreams.

Uhm, although I am a brave soul, I don't touch injured animals. Too much risk of disease.

I do try to get the ones that are still alive in the house outside without further cat torment.

Elizabeth said...

Again with the eye pic. What's up with the eye thing? A boob? Can we just have a boob? Just one? Please.

It's a damn good thing you've asked for forgiveness tiff. You might have ended up in Cansas for that little error.

Do you think you were perhaps being more cruel to the squirrel by chasing the cat away? Did the squirrel have any chance of escape? And if it did, would it have died a torturous, long, agonizing, drawn-out, painful death?

I'm sure the squirrel was saying to you, 'Om-mani-pedme-hung my ass!'

Don't be surprised if you get a visit from Mother Nature asking, 'Who died and made you St. Theresa of animals?'

And then you reply, 'Klaus. Klaus died and made me St. Theresa of animals.'

Anonymous said...

Natural order of things, eh? I don't like watching either, nor do I particularly enjoy having gifts of birds, mice, and other local wildlife deposited at my doorstep by our Ms. Kitty, but what are my alternatives?

Secretly, I thrill to proof that the natural order still exists despite our human interference.



Anonymous said...

Knowing me, I'd now have a pet squirrel sleeping on my bed and a thousand dollar vet bill.

I am not normal, I've been told.

Anonymous said...

I would've just left, but I dont care for squirrels, I think they're rats with long tails.