Friday, July 22, 2011

The Squirrel Returns

And, the squirrel saga continues! The day after the murder (Tuesday), I took the dogs on a long walk and then went to the dog park. I was a bit frazzled when I arrived at the dog park. First, I had been walking them while talking on my phone to a friend whom I went to college with. Her wedding was supposed to be November 4th, but had to be rescheduled to October 29th. Well, I'm the Maid of Honor/only bridesmaid, and this created a major scheduling problem, as I'm a bridesmaid in my brother Teddy's wedding on the 29th. While chatting with her on the phone both dogs pooped... so I had to bend down to pick it up. So here I am, tottering (tottering because I had dislocated my hip hours earlier) down the W&OD trail, trying to hold the leashes of two extremely hyper dogs (hence why we were headed to the park!), my phone wedged against my ear talking about wedding stuff, and three bags of dog poop.

Of course, with terrible single-girl luck, this is the time when two hot cyclists peddle by, shirtless, with 6-pack abs, and golden tanned skin. At which point, I drop my poop bag dispenser... and then, the hotter of the two yells, "Cutest Goldens ever!" And I start blushing...

So fast forward a few hundred yards, we're in the dog park, I'm still discussing wedding logistics with the bride, and the last thing on my mind was the squirrel carcass looming somewhere in the shadows. My dogs immediatly find their prize from the previous outing, and I have no other option but to pick it up and throw it away.

This was no small squirrel, and it was now infested with maggots and covered in flags, far too big and gross to use a poop bag to pick it up with. I find two grocery bags and a very long stick (probably 4-feet or so). Set bag one on the ground. Get the stick under the squirrel, and lift it about a foot off the ground when, of course, it falls off the stick. Damn it. I find a second stick, wedge the first under the squirrel, use the other stick to hold the squirrel on, giant chopsticks, if you will, a look of disgust plastered on my face, while I try to put the squirrel in a bag. It doesn't work, I'm going to have to get closer. Eww.

I wiggle my hands down the stick so now the squirrel is about 18 inches from me. Try to get it in the bag, still can't, and give up and drop the squirrel on top of bag one. Next, I have to try to get the squirrel on a bag into another bag so i can throw it away.

I can only imagine what the other dog owners patronizing the park must have been thinking. Girl with a look of pure terror on her face, two golden retrievers running amok, a carcass on a stick, sweat dripping down my forehead, hair stuck to my face, a cell phone wedged between my shoulder and my ear... when a mosquito flies up my running skirt and bites me on the back of my thigh. I yelp in pain, drop the call, finish bagging the squirrel.

The whole thing was just too humorous not to photograph, but I wasn't about to take, nor post, a picture of a dead animal on my blog. So here is my hand, complete with boarding school class ring, carrying a dead squirrel to the trash can. Oh what a wonderful life...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cold Blooded Killers

So now, here’s what happened with the squirrel, as told by MissMuddyPaws (aka Lydia):

Milly saw a squirrel in some underbrush and chased it up a tree. Having always loved chasing and treeing squirrels, and having never caught one, I used this as the perfect opportunity to snap some pictures and watch her play. I’m not sure if something was wrong with the squirrel, or if it had weak nails, or just picked the wrong tree – but while Milly was attempting to climb the tree/barking at squirrel I noticed the squirrel was only half way up the tree trunk. This is a really tall pine – probably 70 feet or higher – and the branches are not until the very top, so the squirrel is clinging to the side of the trunk. The next thing I notice, the squirrel has gone around to the other side of the trunk, Milly and Hush follow, at which point I think to myself what the hell is going through this squirrel’s mind? Why doesn’t he just climb the tree. I decide maybe the squirrel is tried and scared, call the dogs to me, and we head down towards the creek. The next thing I know, both dogs have taken off and are back at the squirrel tree. Then, I see the squirrel. It was like in his little brain he decided the only way out was down, and he could run sideways and fast, and leap into the tree beside the one he was in for better coverage.

At this point, everything goes into slow motion – like I’m watching some predator show on the Discovery Channel and they are slowing down the antelope being attacked by the Mountain Lion.

As if on the count of 3, the squirrel leaps to the ground and starts high tailing (no pun intended) away. Had it just been Milly, he probably could have gotten away. But it was 2 against 1. Once again, like it was some Discovery Channel predator moment, Hush and Milly team up – they move as one. While one chases, the other corners, while one blocks the front, the other closes in on the rear. It was the most natural, effortless, and graceful thing I have ever witnessed. With no way out, Milly pounced onto the squirrel, grabbing him in her mouth on the first try. Proudly she flings her head about, like Miss America immediately after crowning, she has tried for this moment her entire life, and never thought she would be here. Meanwhile, a tear is trickling down my face. I start franticly yelling, “Milly, Drop it!”

I know Milly, and I know she has a soft mouth. This squirrel is alive and alright, as long as she drops it. The next thing I see was heartbreaking. Hush playfully grabs onto the other half of the squirrel, and they begin tossing it about, playing tug of war with it. I want to vomit, and I’m praying they’ve broken its neck. The situation has gone from surreal Discovery Channel to horrifying murder.

Hush wins the tug of war, and they drop the squirrel, but continue to ignore me. I suddenly remember the one surefire way to get a solid recall out of them is to walk away, making them think I am leaving them. I head down the hill towards the creek and dog park, if I can just get them far enough away from this squirrel they will be distracted by the creek. I turn around to see Hush running full-steam ahead right at me… the squirrel hanging from her mouth. I know at this point I should have stood my ground. I should have called her over, made her sit, and removed the squirrel from her mouth. But, I didn’t. I couldn’t.

Instead, I run the opposite direction, flailing my arms about, as she playfully prances behind me flaunting her new possession. My heart is racing. I want to cry and vomit simultaneously. Luckily, Hush has a short attention span – she drops the squirrel and bounds over to people playing in the creek. At this point, Milly is at my side, I grab her collar, and walk her to the creek. The squirrel seemed to be dropped on the edge of the woods, it looked dead in Hush’s mouth; we’ll just leave it there.

That would have been find, had the lab that was playing in the creek with Milly and Hush, yes, the one keeping their minds off the squirrel, not taken off running. A game of chase started, but Milly made a b-line for the squirrel, now the lab is chasing Milly. I look up to see something hanging from her mouth. I yell, “Milly, DROP IT!” And, somehow, SHE LISTENS. The squirrel tumbles from her mouth and she obediently trots over to me. It isn’t moving, I sigh in relief knowing it is dead, and hope it has been dead this whole time.

At this point, the lab’s owner has gotten to his dog; the squirrel is in the lab’s jaws of steel. I grab my dogs’ collars, and head in the opposite direction, putting on their leashes. The dead squirrel now becomes the lab owner’s problem.

We amble away, and I look down and notice blood on Milly’s muzzle. I think it is blood from the squirrel, because Milly is completely un-phased... so I walk down to the creek and let her splash about in it. There is now more blood. Crap.

I wipe the drool off of her muzzle and see two small puncture wounds. My mind starts racing as I think when her last rabies vaccine was, and whether or not I’ve heard of squirrels carrying diseases. I know she isn’t due for rabies for over a year, but draw a blank on illnesses. We head back home, I use the hose outside to lightly rinse the area, head inside, clean it with betadine and e-mail the vet.

“Apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Clean it with Betadine. Keep an eye on it, and if there are puncture wounds she may need to come in for antibiotics.” $$$$’s, The Vet.

I've continued to clean the wound. The swelling is gone, and I'm keeping an eye on the way it looks (and smells)... so far, it is healing nicely, so hopefully a trip to the vet will not be necessary.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Murder At The Dog Park:

After work on Monday, I decided to take the dogs on what I hoped would be a nice long walk in the woods, followed by some time playing in the creek. Our plans were cut short by the following events, as told to you step-by-step, by Milly.

Step 1: Sniff out a squirrel hiding in a bush

Step 2: Chase squirrel up a tree and weigh the options

Step 3: Begin to bark at squirrel

Step 4: Consult with Hush to formulate a new action plan

Step 5: Attempt to climb tree

Steps 6-11: Miraculously coerce squirrel from tree; with the help of Hush surround squirrel on all sides; catch squirrel; Play tug-of-war with the squirrel; Chase Lydia with the squirrel; Murder squirrel

Step 12: Realize the squirrel got his final revenge before death

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

She's Still A Puppy

With Hush’s first birthday less than a month away, I have been thrilled with how much she has matured. She no longer sleeps in her crate, instead, now she sleeps on my bedroom floor with the door to the crate open so she can come and go as she pleases. She has been an absolute saint with the added freedom. The most destructive thing she has done is tear the head off of her plush duck toy that quacks. She has not chewed any furniture, nor has she gone anywhere near any of my shoes. She happily sleeps on the floor with Milly all night, and quietly waits for breakfast and her walk in the morning. When I am not home, however, I do still crate her.

With so much great behavior, I was absolutely shocked two nights ago when I heard a tearing noise and looked down to see her eating the corner of one of my books. I had two books sitting on a trunk at the foot of my bed. Of course, Hush decided to go for Tipsy in Madras, an out-of-print satirical preppy drinking guide that is selling used on Amazon for nearly $50.00. And, of course, my copy was in mint condition. I would not have cared at all if she'd gone for the beach read beside Tipsy In Madras that I snagged in a used book swap. But, alas, she went for the expensive one.

The silver lining is at least all of the words are still intact, which I discovered upon opening the book, and was promptly inspired to make a tasty beverage found on the first page I turned to. I suppose the bite marks do give the book more character, although I hope to never be in this position again. I am glad I caught her in the act so I had the opportunity to scold her, but I probably should not have left such temptations within her reach. This was the first, and hopefully only time, she ever chewed on any paper product or book... so it really caught me off guard. In many ways, you don't want to set your dogs up to fail by giving them too much freedom, but at the same time learning to just be and relax in environments is critical. I certainly will not stop letting her sleep out of her crate, though now I'll check to make sure nothing is within her reach. And, this reaffirms she still is not ready to spend longer periods of time when I am away from the house outside of her crate. Since this incident, I have made a real effort to give her lots of physical and mental stimulation, as behaviors like chewing tend to be out of boredom.