My brother was over today and I was telling him about my dog getting the canine version of a torn ACL and needing to be on bed rest for 3 weeks.
“How do you put a dog on bed rest?” he inquired. “And how did it happen?”
“She was chasing a squirrel and came in limping.”
“Aren’t you afraid she’ll catch the squirrel and get hurt?” he wanted to know.
I wasn’t. “Squirrels are pretty fast.”
“Squirrels are pretty fierce,” he said.
Which I totally agree with. We had this squirrel one time that the kids befriended by feeding it nuts. It was a very fast squirrel. When it saw the kids come outside, it would outrun a Ferrari to get over to the nut. They decided to name him Rocket.
We all became great friends with Rocket. We have big windows down to the patio on the back of our house and he used to come up to the window, stand on his hind legs, and look cute until someone came out with a nut. What a charming little rascal he was.
Between the three of us, Rocket was getting nuts about every half hour. If someone was over, and there were always kids over, it was probably more because the new people wanted to see what the squirrel would do. Rocket stood on his hind legs and let you hand him a nut. At first he’d scurry away with it, but he got to where he’d just sit there and eat hoping for another one.
After a couple of months of this, we went on vacation for a week, and when we got back home, Rocket was out front waiting on us. He had his arms crossed over his chest and was thumping his leg, saying, “Where the heck have you been? I’ve been starving around here.” We have a rock wall, and my daughter, who was about 6 or 7, saw Rocket on the wall when we drove up. She jumped out of the car and ran over to say hi to him. He reached out, apparently thinking she was going to give him a treat. She reached her hand out like you’d do to pet a kitty, and Rocket, seeing the hand was empty, bit her hard on the finger.
She screamed one of those high-pitched little girls’ screams that can break glass. Blood started running down her hand, and she started sobbing, Rocket was at a little distance chattering his disdain, and I was freaking out thinking about rabies. Friggin’ squirrel.
I washed her up, called the pediatrician, and found out that there was nothing to worry about. “Kids get bitten by squirrels all the time. Just put some Neosporin and a Band-Aid on it and she’ll be fine.”
I took a stand that day. No snot nosed squirrel was going to bite my child and get away with it. I told the children, “From now on, no more nuts for Rocket. It’s made him mean.” My daughter was fine with it, the throbbing finger a reminder of the violence of Mother Nature. My son didn’t think it was fair because he loved entertaining his friends, but he gave in. From then on Rocket got nothing from this family, in spite of his cute little begging.
A few days later I walked out on my patio to do something. It was summer and I was barefoot – maybe I was dashing out to take out the trash. Rocket zoomed out of the tree and ran down on the patio right in front of me.
“You can forget about the nuts, mister,” I said. “You shouldn’t have bit one of us. No more nuts for you.” I felt like the soup Nazi on Seinfeld, and it was a good feeling.
I didn’t realize the squirrel could speak English. I started walking back toward the house, and he ran up behind me and bit me on the heel. Hung on, too. I’m shaking the friggin’ thing and it’s got me by it’s beaver teeth, clamped on like a leech and not about to turn loose. I screamed and gave one good shake, which sent him flying. I dashed through the patio door before he could regroup and strike again.
When I calmed down I was livid. Friggin squirrel. I had blood on my heel. The thing had drawn blood! If I could have caught it I would have strangled it until, well never mind.
Instead, I got a broom and went after him. He met my charge, coming right up to the end of the broom as if to say, “C’mon bitch. Bring it.”
“You better GET your ass up to the woods,” I said. Truth be told, I was a little intimidated. Those were sharp teeth, and the little crap was fearless. I feinted like I was going to poke him with the broom, and eventually he backed down, or more likely got bored. He headed to the grass. I followed, feeling brave. “And don’t come back either,” I shouted. He turned around and stood up like a grizzly bear, and I took a few steps backward. You never know how volatile a squirrel is going to be.
I didn’t go outside without the broom for days. Finally he figured he’d milked our gravy train as long as he could. It was getting to be Fall and he started doing the decent squirrel thing – collecting his own nuts. Crazy thing is, when his winter coat came in, it was all splotchy – like he had the mange. I secretly hoped that it was all those rich nuts we gave him that caused the problem. He was around all winter and spring, then I lost track of him. Now we have one million squirrels, all of them his offspring, I suppose. They come up to the window and taunt the dog. And now they’ve caused my dog to walk on 3 legs and probably require $2,000 worth of surgery. I see them out there laughing, and I bet their grandfather is up in a tree egging them on.