Passing of “Squirrel”

By isak, February 17, 2007

I just wanted to make note of Squirrel’s passing… she was a large part of the extended family.

After cleaning up the yard this morning, I decided to check on this funky tree I have growing near the back of the property outside the dog area. I think it is a prickly pear ash which looks nothing like a pear or an ash. On my way, I found Squirrel laying dead on the ground. Looks like she (she, I think) has been there a while… hard to tell with the cold weather we have had, but I remember noticing a few days ago that the dogs have not been giving Squirrel chase in a while.

Squirrel would methodically make her way across the yard on one of various routes she has. Some of them seemed none too direct as she zigged-zagged to her destination. I read once that squirrels have regular routes that they follow and, sure enough, I found that to be true. Even the dogs noted this. They knew where the squirrels were heading as they embarked on a route and would often run ahead to the next tree on the route.

Sometimes I envision creating little rope bridges in the tree tops for a more direct route. Wouldn’t that be cool? The current route seems especially inefficient near the nest, but maybe there is reason for that.

I saw a squirrel yesterday with a mouth full of leaves. It made sense because we have had some extremely cold temperatures. It did not get out of the thirties temperaturewise yesterday. The night before was really cold.

I am not sure what happened to the squirrel I found this morning. There were no obvious signs of trauma and it was outside the fenced area where the dogs run. But I can’t rule out the dogs except it seems that if the dog were involved, they would have barked a lot at the fence-line closest to the squirrel trying to get to it. I work from home. My office overlooks the backyard and I saw or heard no unusual behavior from the dogs. They didn’t seem to note what I was doing this morning when I buried Squirrel.

This has to be the same squirrel that ate small nuts from the tree beside the dog house. The dogs would gather below — a couple would jump on the doghouse to get closer — and in unison bark for the duration of Squirrel’s meal. I often marvelled that the noise did not deter Squirrel nor did it seem to irritate her. I worried it would throw off her concetration as she made one of those daring leaps from one tree to another, quietly praying everytime that she not miss the next branch. I swear the dogs were chanting, “Fall, fall.”

Several years ago, a squirrel was being chased across the yard by some of the dogs. It made it to the wire fence and got part way through when it just collapsed. I took it out of the fence and set it on the outside, but it never revived. The dogs never touched it, so I think it must have had a heart attack. I buried this squirrel several feet beyond the fence in the woods. Five or six years later, the marker is now part of the new extended backyard. Somehow it has remained in place… amazing when you think of all the things these kids get into these days.

We shall miss Squirrel. There were many days I thought I might buy a gun just to shoot Squirrel so the dogs would quit barking at her. Fall and winter, when there are no leaves on the trees, were the worst. Squirrel or her movement was easier to spot leaping from tree-to-tree.

And there were times where, after an hour, I had to call a quit to the noise. Though I do not miss the excessive/compulsive barking, I shall miss Squirrel’s part in this menagerie — especially the way she would walk among them on the ground unnoticed when they were deep asleep in their naps.

Sweet dreams, Squirrel.

What do you think?

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