The Beast

We have a few squirrels around our apartment these days. Not that many, and it doesn’t matter too much anyway because we don’t have a bird feeder. When you have a bird feeder, though, squirrels are a problem. Anyone who has ever tried to keep one knows how much. We used to manage that problem with our secret weapon in the ongoing war against squirrel-kind, our dog Sally.

Sally is gone now, but in her time she was a champion. Sally was just a mid-sized mutt that we adopted from the pound for our son, frankly because she was the last one left of an abandoned litter of puppies. Just as soon as she was old enough to get up to good dog speed, however, we knew we had an effective weapon against the squirrels. In her youth she was a ball of fire.  Her reputation in the squirrel community was such that not a squirrel within five miles of our house dared touch ground.  Hundreds of them starved to death in the treetops rather than risk her wrath.

Over time, though, as Sally reached dog middle age (six months), her attitude changed to a more or less live and let live position. She would still chase the squirrels, but without any real intention of actually catching them. She came to function more in the role of a personal trainer to keep the little guys in tip top shape.

Later on, I think she saw  her work as something like a civil service job.  She would sit there all day as various creatures wandered in and out of our yard with complete impunity: squirrels, deer, wild turkey, raccoons, etc.  Most probably a fully grown bison could have grazed on the front lawn without much notice on her part. Of course, if one of us came outside or drove up in the car, she instantly leaped up and began chasing the offending wildlife until it climbed a tree or disappeared into the wood line. I could imagine them whispering together out in the undergrowth,

“Sorry about that, but the boss just came home.”

“It’s okay. See you later.”

Then she would return, wagging her tail furiously, as though she expected the Congressional Metal of Honor for her efforts. Naturally I gave her the doggy equivalent: a pat on the head and a “good dog!” I wasn’t about to disturb the balance of nature.

Now, around the apartment complex, the squirrels roam free, and nobody cares. It’s quiet and peaceful and the landscaping crew takes care of everything.  But I sort of miss the game, and good old Sally.





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