Friday, January 8, 2010

Conflict: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Self, Man vs. Society, and Dog vs. Squirrel

In this cor-nah...weighing in at thirty-two pounds: Thistle VanderMeer!

In that cor-nah...weighing in at thirty-two ounces: Chester the Squirrel!

When Chester first started raiding our bird feeder, it was cute and funny. Then it was irritating. He'd scare away the birds we hoped to feed.

I kept trying to write, but he'd drive me batty. Actually, my dogs would. Once Thistle and Pepper spotted Chester, my peace and quiet went down the toilet.

I have smart dogs. Really. And we've established their cuteness. But why do dogs' brains roll out their ears when they see squirrels? Mine throw themselves at the glass in the back door.

Of course, Chester is not just any squirrel. He's a
super squirrel. He's quite large (I don't actually know his weight--he's never shared that with me), he has a white chest, and he taunts my dogs. He disappears when they, barking their flippin' heads off, scratch at the glass, but then he comes back within seconds.

One day in early December when all I wanted was some quiet, the dogs were making me nuts with this. It went on and on. By lunchtime, the dogs had worn themselves out and curled up on the couch (the couch belongs to the dogs, so this isn't naughty behavior). I sat at the table to eat, and there was Chester on the bird feeder, right outside the window. I looked from my sleeping dogs to the ever-growing squirrel.

Feeling a bit tense, I knocked on the glass to scare him away. All he did was look me in the eye and lift his left arm (I know they're legs, but squirrels use them like arms), so he was on his hind legs, standing the way Bugs Bunny does when he's leaning against a tree or something.

I felt like he was double-dog daring me to show him exactly who had control of the bird feeder. Yes, now it was personal.

I woke up my dogs. "What are you doing, sleeping? Chester's out there!" I let them out back to run around barking like wild things. Whippets can run thirty-five miles per hour, but I knew they'd never catch ol' Chester. I was hoping to scare him away.


After a couple weeks of this, I mentioned Chester in a post. Then, that very day, he returned with an evil twin. Okay, not evil, but a twin. And maybe not
exactly a twin, because the second squirrel was smaller. Let me try again: that very day, he returned with a Mini-Me Chester. I braced myself for what was to come.



He disappeared. They both did. And the house got quiet.

We have coyotes around here, and I heard them a couple times over Winter Break, barking their creepy barks late at night. One night, we heard them attacking an animal that actually screamed. I was glad we were all safe inside: Jim, the kids, the dogs, and I were all in our beds.

After a couple days, I started to worry about Chester. Ridiculous, right? I wasn't losing sleep or anything, but I felt sorry for him. I hoped a coyote hadn't found him. I hoped squirrels didn't scream when attacked.

Jim went out to reload our bird feeder yesterday. I thought about Chester. I told Jim I wished he'd come back soon.

My son was home from school with a nasty cough and I was upstairs, writing. My son said, "Mom! Chester's back!"

The dogs and I were so excited.

I kept trying to get a picture of him for this post, but every time I went toward the door with my camera, the dogs would peek outside and see Chester. They'd bark and yowl. They'd scratch at the door. Then he'd hide, and I'd stand there shaking my head. I told my son we'd have to figure out a way to get a picture when the dogs weren't looking.

Today the dogs were sleeping up in the den while I wrote. When I went downstairs for lunch, there was Chester. I took lots of pictures with my new camera (it's hard to get a good photo through glass--but notice the clarity in Chester's pic; Thistle's was taken with the old camera). As soon as I put away the camera, Mini-Me Chester showed up too. I didn't bother to get the camera again. I just watched them. While the dogs snoozed and I ate, I watched Chester and M.M. Chester raid our squirrel feeder.

The dogs are still sleeping--they're behind me right now. They'll start stirring soon, and they'll go downstairs and spot Chester through the glass.

I'm glad things are back to normal.


Lydia Sharp said...

Cute! I love stories like this. :)
And I really miss having dogs in my life.

Anonymous said...

Love / Hate relationship brewing there I see. :O) have a great weekend squirrel gazing!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

lol, this is hilarious. And I know how you feel. A few years ago, we had a wild rabbit that took up residence in our yard for the entire winter (we named him Murray). He would drive my dachshund crazy, which in turn drove me crazy. But when he stopped showing up, I was all concerned too. Guess if ur an animal lover at heart, you can't help it.

Chester sounds too smart to be caught by those coyotes, though. If he can outrun a whippet, I think he's golden. :)

Travener said...

I think you need to re-name your "bird feeder" a "squirrel feeder."

I'm glad Chester reappeared. haven't seen our raccoons for awhile (two juveniles who loll around in our backyard); hope they return soon.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Very cute story and I love the pic! I've been posting about squirrels all week! :)

Dawn Simon said...

Lydia, dogs are awesome, aren't they?

Diane, we haven't seen him yet today, but he'll be back. :) My guess is we'll hear he's back before we see him; the dogs will be sure to let us know.

Roni, you know exactly how I feel! Murray is such a great name for a rabbit! (My daughter has a rabbit she named Mona Lisa.) Dachshunds are so cute. You make a good point about the coyotes. That makes me feel better.

Travener, you're right. Squirrel feeder it is! I hope your raccoons return soon. My husband and I went to a petting zoo in the Midwest that had baby raccoons that had been rescued after their mom had been hit by a car. They were adorable and so fun to hold!

Stephanie, I saw that! Great minds... ;)

Bane of Anubis said...

Go Chester! Go squirrels! My mother has quite a similar story (of course my dad is a squirrel enabler, so that made her doubly frustrated :)

Dawn Simon said...

Bane, you and Kjersten were already cheering for Chester the first time I mentioned him. I knew you'd be rooting for him. ;) Your comment about your dad being a squirrel enabler made me laugh. Hee! See? I'm still giggling at the image of a squirrel enabler.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Great story! I have a picture of one my dogs staring intently up a tree - you just know that there was a squirrel up there laughing at him.

Natalie said...

I love this Dawn. Isn't funny how we so often wish for something else (like birds instead of squirrels), and then realize what we had was better than what we wanted.

Dawn Simon said...

Deb, animals are so fun!

Thanks, Natalie! And you're right. :) BTW, I'm so excited for the NY conference! I wonder if we'll get to meet in person while we're there!

Anonymous said...

This is gorgeous. What a great writer you are!

Dawn Simon said...

Thank you, Niki! I read through your blog and it's lovely. I really enjoyed each post. :)

Ashley Ladd said...

We live in Florida and our yard borders a canal. Ducks are everywhere. So my dogs, especially the Husky, loves to chase the ducks.

Anastasia said...

Have you seen "Up" where everytime the dogs see a squirrel they stop what they're doing and shout "Squirrel!"

Dawn Simon said...

Ashley, Thistle and Pepper yank on the leash when they see the rabbits at a nearby park. They're total goofballs.

Anastasia, yes, and I totally thought of my dogs!