My dog is squirrel obsessed.
This is not as much of an issue now that we moved to the city, but it was a big problem when we lived in the suburbs where there were a kajillion squirrels. I had to imagine he was genetically wired for this because he did not have any kind of traumatic squirrel experience as a puppy that would cause him to have a squirrel vendetta. Of course they may have ganged up on him when I wasn’t looking and pelted him with acorns or something just for laughs, and I never knew about it. He was actually traumatized by a giant woodchuck that lived under our deck years ago, so maybe he thought all squirrels were small woodchucks and this was his way of working through his issues. This was not such a stretch considering the first time I saw the woodchuck, I thought it was a beaver. Maybe wildlife idiocy runs in the family.
Whatever the reason, the dog was clearly not a fan of squirrels and would sit by the deck door watching the backyard like some kind of squirrel mercenary. Neither sleep nor hunger would tear him from his post unless of course he needed a nap or heard the sound of food accidentally dropping on the kitchen floor. When a squirrel appeared, he would growl menacingly and finally erupt into a fit of hysterical barking until I let him outside to chase the man-eating squirrel over the fence or up a tree.
This happened ... no kidding ... every five minutes.
Like I said, there were a lot of squirrels out there.
In the city, however, there were not that many squirrels around, so the dog took to hating pigeons instead. I have to admit, I was kind of with him on that. At least the squirrels didn’t poop on your head from above.
Unbeknownst to me, though, the pigeon thing had the potential to be an even bigger problem. In the suburbs, I could just let the dog run wild in our backyard to chase squirrels. (He never caught any, but I think it was just the thrill of the chase). But in the city, the dog was on a leash. And I didn’t learn about his pigeon obsession until I had him out for a walk. As we strolled down the street, we came across a flock of pigeons just hanging out on the sidewalk, doing their pigeony things.
When the dog saw them, he lost his mind.
He lurched after the pigeons, dragging me behind him like a piece of toilet paper on the bottom of your shoe. And then the pigeons did something that squirrels don’t do. They flew. Thinking he could follow them, the dog flew, too … for one second. Just long enough for me to also fly … into a tree.
Had I not gone face first into a tree, I might have been impressed that:
a) the dog thought he could fly,
b) all the pigeons got away, and
c) my face found one of only three trees on the whole street.
As I sat in the dirt next to the tree, the dog came over to me. He did not try to comfort me or come to my assistance in any way. Instead, he looked at the tree with some obvious interest.
I shook my head at him.
“Don’t even think about it!”
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Beckerman column: Dragging my paws
My dog is squirrel obsessed.