Tuesday, November 20, 2012

FYI Squirrels: Chocolate Labs are Killers

A squirrel taunts my dog with a jar of peanut butter.
 The squirrels in my yard know I hate them, but that wasn't always the case. I used to think they were oh-so-cute. I saved one of their babies who had fallen out of a tree once; it was sunken into the grass, pink and naked, with tufts of silver fur. A stray cat was poised above it with the expression of Satan on his face, ready to pounce on the helpless cousin of a mouse. But I rescued him- shooed the cat away and scooped that baby up in a towel. Then I brought him to a neighbor who delivered him to a shelter where he was coddled and fed, then released back into the wild when the time was right.

I made my husband save a nest of four squirrels after we cut down a tree and ruined their home by accident. He drove the nest to the animal shelter as the babies tumbled around the front passenger side of the car. He had to nudge them back into the shoebox at stop lights because it was common knowledge that I used to name the squirrels in my neighborhood when I was a child.

So, as an adult, I was at first impressed with their determination when they ate through my industrial-strength, plastic garbage pails. I thought it was endearing when I saw one glaring into my bedroom window as he hung upside down from the roof.

"Look Mommy!"my daughter said, "The squirrel is saying good morning to us."

But he was really scoping out my house. He was looking for a way in and he found it by eating through the siding and gaining access to my 110 year-old attic.

I still thought squirrels were adorable until one leaped out of a box and bounced past my head in that dark space as I was getting out the Christmas decorations last year. That's when I screamed and called my neighbor, an exterminator. At first I agreed to setting some humane traps in the attic. I was not interested in getting anyone hurt when we caught the first one with a little peanut butter. My neighbor drove him to a park far enough away that he would never come back. However, it was too late. The squirrel had already told his friends about my attic.

Next there were three more furry squatters. I almost passed out when I spotted two hanging out of the top of my chimney.

"That's like their little lookout tower," my exterminator neighbor explained, pointing to my chimney. "So, they've told all their friends on the block; they've texted their second and third cousins your address," he added.

While I usually appreciate the wit of those who enjoy personifying animals, at that moment, I was just plain horrified, standing there wide-eyed like a child believing a tall tale.

"They what? They text? They have cousins? Like how many? What the hell am I gonna do?" I was getting frantic. My neighbor raised a hand.

"Look, I'll put a couple of extra traps up there. We'll just keep getting rid of them and plugging their entry points. Eventually they will stop coming in," he assured me.

I agreed, but my feelings for squirrels had changed. They were no longer cute in children's books, and especially not in my house. In my house they were disease carrying relatives of rodents and I so I declared war on a whole brood of them.

I bought metal garbage cans from Sears. I tip-toed up my attic steps three times a day armed with a giant rubber mallet. They didn't come back in the spring. Most of the summer was quiet. It wasn't until the last week of August that I thought I heard the tapping of little feet above my bedroom, followed by the faintest scratching sound.

It was about 120 degrees in the attic at that point, too hot for ghosts I decided. It had to be a squirrel. I climbed the attic stairs and lifted the heavy, creaking door and closed it securely behind me in case I encountered the enemy. I gasped, discovering one dead in the trap, keeled over with peanut butter on his claw. There was no way he survived long in that late summer heat. My neighbor was already at the front door when I opened it carrying the full trap.

"Oh, you did it yourself," he said.

"Yeah, I want to parade this cage around the yard. It's time to send a message to the whole critter community. I'm going to smash some furry heads," I told him, breathless. It was hot in that attic.

"I think you're letting this get to you," he decided.

Nevertheless, it was time to write out some strategies- like real Generals do- to defeat my enemy. On the top of my list was scaring the nuts out of them and off of them too in an effort to decrease this obvious overpopulation.

Indiana Jones the KILLER! That's right I said KILLER. Squirrels, text your friends.

So I resigned as General and hired my new chocolate lab puppy to be my squirrel cop.

He barks ferociously on cue when I open the attic door. He chases them up trees. This fall, I can tell that the whole local squirrel community is shaking in their boots. They have not dared attempt getting into the Christie house attic.

Look at this fearless squirrel hunter. I think I'm in love.
"They are texting their cousins about Indiana Jones- the KILLER dog who hunts them relentlessly," I told my neighbor one day, triumphantly. I was walking my new squirrel shredder in his designer, pom-pom topped, cold weather hat. The trap that the neighbor sympathetically left in my attic has been empty for over half a year. I think it's safe to say I won't have any more squirrel problems with my lovable assassin around.


Milk Man said...

Great Blog. Welcome back.

Milk Man said...

Still a great post. You need to do a post showing the transformation of Maggie's room.

Putz said...

a squrillreal killed my brother and in my opinion should all be dead, on the other hand choclate labs are god's gift to us{since i now own a chocolate lab to go with my tan lab<><>they love each other and the cat "tute"" duke tute and homar

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


Loren Christie

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