Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oops..Sorry Squirrels?

It turns out I may have been blaming the squirrels unjustly for the eating of my tomatoes. According to Possibly-Joe, there’s a groundhog living in the garden that’s diagonal to mine. He’s seen it a few times and his dog desperately wants to eat it.

Possibly-Joe has a rat terrier named Chloe that he ties out on a long chain in the garden. He doesn’t have the luxury of a fence the way I do and Chloe is a bit of a runner. There have been several times when I’ve seen Chloe squeeze out the back door when he’s going through and he’s run around the neighbourhood trying to chase her. He’s done it barefoot a few times too. So far, he’s always caught her. He has my sympathies. When I was a kid, my dad had a thing for Afghan Hounds so we had a couple of them. Afghan’s are REAL runners- if they have the space, they will run. There were several occasions when they managed to get out of our yard and we had to chase them like maniacs all around the neighbourhood. It was never fun, always embarrassing and always a triumph when we caught the dog. So Joe has my sympathies.

Anyway, I know about the groundhog because while I was squirrel-proofing my tomatoes last night, Possibly-Joe came out to chat. This was while the Trampoline Gang was at their wildest and I’d desperately been trying to ignore their yelling. Possibly Joe clearly felt the same way I did because the first thing he said to me was, “as if their dogs weren’t bad enough, now we have a trampoline.”

It made me smile. It’s nice to have catharsis in knowing you’re not the only one who’s irritated at something. I was starting to feel like a cranky old spinster because I can’t sit out on my patio anymore without it having the soundtrack of the kids next door. I mean, I am glad they’re able to keep amused and have fun playing but the selfish part of me wished they didn’t have to do it next door while I’m trying to relax.

Possibly Joe had a gripe about Dog Whisperer’s beasts and how they drove Chloe nuts and then he complained about how the kids on the trampoline liked to wind up Chloe which got her upset. I listened with sympathy. As I suspected, Dog Whisperer and Wife didn’t do themselves any favours by installing the trampoline. I know that their yapping dogs drive quite a few people crazy as I’ve mentioned before. However, add to that a trampoline full of shouting kids…they’re not exactly going to be the most popular house on the block.

Anyway, after Possibly Joe was done with his complaints, he mentioned that there was also a groundhog living next door to him which Chloe kept trying to eat. I didn’t know that I had one of the creatures quite so close to my house. Possibly Joe said he’s seen it stick its head up quite a few times and that’s usually when Chloe goes nuts and tries to eat it. Fortunately, her chain doesn’t go that far.

I was surprised. I’ve never seen the groundhog and I can’t help but think that if Rory and Sookie saw it, they, too, would want to join in the Eating of the Groundhog with Chloe. Well, they probably wouldn’t eat it. What would actually happen is that they would bark at it a lot. Sookie would be the leader of the barking and Rory would stand back, trying to be brave like her sister but rather wary anyway. The groundhog would probably stare at the two barking dogs and then saunter off, probably to eat Larry the Potential Serial Killers sweet pertaters or beans. If my girls did get close enough to the groundhog to actually confront it, chances are that Rory would run off, frightened and Sookie would attempt to bravely capture it but would probably run away if it got too close. The groundhog is, after all, bigger than Sook.

The thing is, Sookie thinks she’s a big dog. This is why when we got out walking, she gives no notice to the Chihuahua’s and Yorkies we pass. She barely acknowledges the miniature poodle. No, Sookie likes to stir up trouble when we pass the German Shepherds or the Golden Retriever. She also is quite fond of barking back at the Great Dane we pass by its back gate. Sookie is fierce and she likes dogs to know it except, really, she’s not. She just likes to bark and when they bark back, she hides behind my legs. This is why I know she wouldn’t really fight a groundhog. A squirrel, she’d fight. She has already taken on a rabbit. She likes voles. She’s fond of bugs. Yet when it comes to things that wouldn’t fit in her mouth, she’s not really that fond of getting too close.

Still, now that I know there’s a groundhog, I’m a little more suspicious of my tomatoes. They were awfully large bite marks in them. I assumed that a squirrel had started the job and Rory had finished since I caught her taking a bite yesterday. However, now I know there really is a groundhog living close by, my suspicions have changed. I’m not sure if groundhogs can climb though- I don’t see how else they could have got to my tomatoes without scaling the fence. Still, it does make me wonder if I did blame the squirrels unjustly.

Hopefully, my chicken wire will suffice. Since I managed to cut myself on it as I was setting it up, I decided it might be dangerous to the girls if they ran through on one of their mad energy bursts that causes them to run round the garden on their circular track. In an effort to remind them the wire was there, I tied some very bright orange fabric all over it. If nothing else, I have the most stylish-squirrel deterrent in the neighbourhood.

Still, I’m going to be on the lookout for that groundhog now I know where he lives. I’ll also keep an eye on the girls just in case Sookie tries to play “Catch the Groundhog” which she is likely to attempt to do if she sees it. My guess is that our chain link fence will provide a safety barrier for both parties but you never know.

On the plus side, all that noise from the Trampoline next door probably discourages the creature from coming out as often as it wants to so maybe there is a silver lining to this after all.

Sorry, Squirrels…maybe it wasn’t your fault this time…

Happy Thursday!

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