Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Defend and Destroy!

I despise squirrels. I know I’ve mentioned this before but, once again, my opinion has been justified.

I find them to be rude little creatures. If squirrels were humans, they’d be obnoxious teenagers who’ve had no parenting, treat the world as their playground and talk back to whoever gets in their way. They’re not threatening, per se but no one really wants to deal with them because they’re annoying.

Both Sookie and Rory hate squirrels too. Their hatred is manifested in their desire to capture a squirrel of their very own any time they see one. They whine beneath a tree when there’s a squirrel in it, they pull like crazy if we’re walking and they see a squirrel and they simply cannot understand why squirrels can run up trees and they can’t.

We call squirrels ‘dirty rotten cheaters’ because they sit there, taunting the dogs as we walk, chewing on some item that’s bigger than their heads whether it’s a tomato, a hickory nut, a slice of pizza or an apple and as soon as the dogs get close enough, they run up the nearest tree.

We consider that cheating. I do, however, marvel at how squirrels manage to climb trees without dropping their food items. It’s not fair that my dogs get so close and then the squirrel cheats by running out of reach.

Worse is when the squirrels talk back. They run up the tree and then sit there, making this weird chittering noise that sounds rather like they shouting at my dogs. This, in particular, drives Sookie a little nuts and she gets a little demented in her attempts to try to climb up the tree. Sookie, my sweet but not-as-bright-as-her-sister dog has not yet figured out that she cannot climb a tree. She tries. Oh, but she tries but she always ends up having to concede defeat. She’s a sweetie but there are times when she’s just a little, uh, dopey. Take for example when I try to put her harness on her for a walk. Rory long since figured out that if she steps into each leg hole, buckling the harness is harmless, easy and quick. Not Sookie. Sookie still acts like she thinks I’m going to hurt her when I approach with the harness. When I get her to stay still, I get her to lift a leg to coax her to put her foot in the leg hole. Then the leg stays lifted and I suddenly have a Three Legged Dachshund. She has stood like that for quite a while. I usually get her to put it down by manually lifting her other front leg. Of course, by this time, the first leg is no longer in the leg hole of the harness but it’s worth a shot. Of course, she ends up keeping this leg lifted for a while and we repeat the process until the harness is actually on. So, her constant attempts to climb trees are expected and, well, endearing.

I digress. Back to the squirrels.

Squirrels make our walks more interesting. There are huge amount in our neighbourhood and so when the weather is cool and breezy, they’re out in full force, gathering food and generally being obnoxious.

I can handle them on our walks. It takes a little wrangling to persuade two enthusiastic dachshunds that squirrels aren’t actually food and thus it’s not worth chasing them but it does keep our walks interesting.

I can’t handle them in the garden, however. There are a couple that live in my neighbour’s trees. They run around, jumping from fence to tree branch to bush to fence and so on. They torment Sookie and Rory by perching on the top of our chain link fence, doing that chittering thing a mere three feet above where Sookie stands on her back legs desperately trying to reach them. No matter how high she jumps she can’t quite bag herself a squirrel. The squirrel, meanwhile, clearly enjoys inflicting torment. I half expect them to pelt my dogs with acorns and berries. For all I know, they do.

The worst part is that they’re thieves and sneaks. Twice now, I’ve noticed that my lovely heirloom tomatoes are starting to ripen and I get excited. I decide that I’ll let them ripen a little more and then I’ll pick them. Lo and behold, twice now on my two largest tomatoes, I’ve gone out the next day to discover half-demolished tomatoes ridden with squirrel-sized toothmarks. The tomatoes are no good and I have to throw them away. They also eat my cherry tomatoes and I find them strewn on the ground, half-eaten. Honestly, I’d rather the bloody creatures just ate the whole tomato. At least then, it wouldn’t seem so obnoxious and wasteful.

The dogs are no help because the squirrels attack my tomatoes while they’re inside and I’m at work. Or they do it at night. I still blame Wife of Dog Whisperer who used to plant tomatoes strictly for the squirrels. They’ve got a taste now and since mine are gourmet tomatoes, heirlooms and lovely, they’re hell bent on eating them.

It’s time to declare war. I have some chicken wire that I’m going to attempt to use to secure the perimeter of my tomato patch. Rory and Sookie won’t like it because I’ve caught them having a bite out of the already squirrel- decimated tomatoes when they think I’m not looking. I suppose they smell of squirrel because they won’t eat tomatoes if I offer them normally.

I’ve been researching other ways of getting rid of squirrels. The internet recommends using dog hair around the plants. Since my girls are shedding rather a lot, I’ll use my Furminator on them tonight and try that method too. I’ve also given the dogs permission to seek and destroy but, alas, that’s not having any more effect than their usual attempts to seek and destroy. Apparently, they don’t need my permission.

I’m hoping to salvage the last of my heirlooms. I have a couple more and I’ve been waiting ages to pick them and enjoy them so you can see why the squirrels have inspired my ire. If I succeed in eating at least one of the delicious fruits that isn’t laden with bitemarks, I’ll be happy.

When it comes to my vegetables, it’s serious business. I will take no prisoners. Those squirrels have messed with my tomatoes for the last time.

Now, if only I could tell them that.

Happy Wednesday!

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