We’ve had an ongoing prediction here at The Funny Farm, that someday Bailey is going to catch a squirrel. Not only is she a fast runner, she has a super sniffer. If a critter is in the yard, she can sniff him out faster than he can find a place to hide.
Sometimes when I let the dogs out, the bolt to the back and I can hear squirrels scratching up the trees. Bailey once trapped a squirrel at the top of the 8′ high fence. The squirrel would run left; Bailey was there. He’d run right; Bailey was there. Not that she could catch him up that high. She’s just intimidating, what with that bark.
If there’s something unusual – or dead – in the yard, Bailey will find it. Poop, peanut shells from the neighbor’s feeder, trash blown from the other side of the fence. I once saw Bailey chewing on what I thought was a stick. It turned out to be an entire dead bird. A whole bird! She had the entire thing in her mouth! I had to pry open those jaws and literally reach in to remove the intact bird.
Talk about gross.
Anyway, I had gone out to run an errand. When I came home, I let Bailey out and stayed inside for a minute to be welcomed home by Bandit. Things were quiet outside – no barking, no yipping, not a sound. That’s a good sign, usually. I went out to switch dogs – and that’s when I saw Bailey in the driveway standing over what looked like an old stuffed toy.
Except it wasn’t a toy. It was a squirrel.
Bailey had the squirrel pinned down, then she’d let it up. The squirrel would try to get away, Bailey would paw at it, it would squeak, she’d paw at it, and on and on. Bailey was strangely calm, as if she wasn’t really sure what she’s caught or what she wanted to do with it. And the squirrel was clearly in distress but seemed to know that if he stayed still Bailey was more likely to just stare, rather than cause him further harm.
I knew that freaking out would send Bailey over the edge – she’s reactively weird that way. A screetch from me and the squirrel would be toast. So I ran into the house, grabbed some biscuits and started calling Bailey, tossing biscuits in an attempt to lure her from the squirrel just long enough so I could grab her collar while avoiding a scratch from the squirrel.
It took a second or two, but I got Bailey in the house, and hoped that the squirrel would run away to wherever it is that injured squirrels go.
I called the vet – Bailey is up to date on her shots, she didn’t appear to be injured at all, so there wasn’t any worry in that regard. But when I looked outside, there was the squirrel. Dying, right outside the screen door.
So I called the village animal control office (which in our town is also the building inspector). Not surprisingly, the clerk told me that animal control really doesn’t do anything and that usually in this situation, the critter will crawl away on its own. (This is actually a very, very common policy.) But when I told her the critter was … Eeeeww!! Right at my door!!! … Dead in the hot sun!! …. she sent over Dave, the building inspector/animal control officer.
Dave thought that the squirrel had a broken back, and that it was entirely possible that the critter was already injured when Bailey found it. I tend to agree; Bailey wasn’t worked up into a frenzy, and she didn’t seem bent on shaking or chewing or otherwise causing the critter harm. She was much more curious than murdurous about her little pal.
Thankfully, Dave removed the squirrel – it was still alive so he had to … let’s say … humanely remedy the situation. He was so nice and he took care of the situation so calmly. I will never complain about how high my taxes are again.
As I watched him drive away, I looked down, and there was a dead bird in the front yard. A gross, wormy, ant-covered dead bird.
Seriously, what is going on over here?
The bird, I can handle. If you remember, our yard has often been the site of sparrow slaughters by a rogue hawk who views our feeders as his own personal bird buffet. I’ve scooped my share of headless, gutted birds. We’ve even had our share of chipmunk tragedy. (You can read about that on Bandit’s blog.) Add in the live animal encounters – ther raccoon, that frightening possum, a chipmunk convention, bats in the belfry, and Mr. Fluffy the rabbit, and we’re a virtual Wild Kingdom in this highly populated village.
But the dying squirrel? Brrr. That was a whole other matter.
After Dave the inspector left and I’d also removed the bird, I let Bailey out. She came outside, nose to the ground, and followed the path the squirrel made as he crawled around the driveway to the spot he gasped his last breath.
I think it’s time to get her into some tracking classes or something. We say she’s a retriever/pit mix, but we’ve known for a while there’s some kind of scent hound in there, too.
Soon after the squirrel escapade, I had to do an interview with a husband and wife writing team who just published a book about baseball and faith. Bailey was still wound up; Bandit was content to just hide upstairs while I was on the phone. I’m sure I seemed distracted – and I probably was.
Too much excitement for one day over here. A dead squirrel, a wormy bird, and what probably was a mediocre at best phone interview – and my head is pounding. I need some aspirin and a nap.
Wait … Bailey is outside and it’s awfully quiet out there …