Storm: Watchman on patrol: The squirrel situation
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Standing on his hind legs, steely gaze sweeping across our back patio and yard, my tiny Yorkie mix Einstein is every inch the watchman. Not a leaf stirs without his knowledge; not a pine cone thunders to the ground without being viewed with suspicion.
But make no mistake, the foliage of fall is not the target of his attention. There’s a battle brewing behind my house and as far as Einstein is concerned, a squirrel has fired the first salvo.
The chilly weather has the neighborhood squirrel population storing food and searching for safe places to hole up during days of cold rain and nights that dip below freezing. One squirrel in particular has decided that our yard might be a suitable spot.
Every time the bushy-tailed intruder slips over the fence and onto our home turf, Einstein begins barking out his objections.
“Hey you! This is private property. Get out! Get out! GET OUT!”
My dachshund mix Ollie adds his howling bark to the chorus.
But the squirrel remains unmoved. He has his own steely-eyed gaze, and after a moment’s hesitation to make sure I am not opening the door, he returns to the task at hand.
This infuriates Einstein.
“Look at that interloper,” he yips at me. “Shameless rat with a fluffy tail! Open the door and let me deal with this threat as I see fit.”
“I’ve let you out six times in the last hour,” I say, sternly. “The squirrel just climbs over the fence and hides until you’re gone. Let’s let him be.”
“Let him be! Are you mad, woman?” Einstein snarls. “Can’t you see he is plotting to kill us and take over our townhouse? Look at those shifty eyes! Watch him digging over there in my favorite grassy pee spot! He’s a menace! Let me out!”
“Owwwwwwwuttttttttt!” Ollie wails.
“Now listen you two,” I sigh. “I doubt very much the squirrel is planning to kill us. He’s just digging a hole to store some food.”
“Not just any food,” Einstein snaps. “It’s corn. Do you know why he’s planting corn? Cover! He knows I am on patrol but if a cornfield is growing in the yard he will be able to hide behind the stalks and creep all the way up to the house!”
“I think you are overestimating the squirrel’s ability to plan,” I say. “Besides, every time we go out in the yard, you dig up the kernels of corn, so there’s no harm done.”
“You are hopelessly naive,” Einstein groans. “All I need to do is miss one kernel and his plan will move forward.”
“The squirrel can’t very well hide behind one corn stalk,” I answer in what i hope is a calm and reasonable tone.
“Can’t he? CAN’T HE?” Einstein roars in reply. “Are you ready to bet your life on that?”
“Oh for goodness sakes, go outside,” I sigh, opening the door and watching as the dynamic duo charges out to chase the squirrel away. Ollie sniffs the yard’s perimeter as Einstein digs up the corn.
“Plot foiled,” Einstein smirks as he trots back inside, Ollie at his heels.
“Well, that’s good news,” I say. “Now maybe we can have a few moments of peac…
“He’s back! He’s back! Open the door!”
“At this point, I’d almost welcome the squirrel killing me,” I tell the boys.
Einstein gazes at me thoughtfully.
“That’s rabbit talk,” he says. “Now, get ready to open the door when I tell you.”
Ah, the price of safety when the watchman is on patrol.
Contact Janet Storm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9587.