For the previous few years B.D. (Before Dogs), my backyard was a squirrel sanctuary. I recall one early-Fall Saturday morning, standing with coffee in hand gazing through the windows overlooking the deck under the shade of the mighty pecan (tree), busily shedding it’s ‘fruit’ with the frequent *clunk* of nut hitting wood (tee hee). The rather peaceful scene of well-spaced clunks was suddenly interrupted by a light storm of pecans followed by a *whump* as a squirrel hit the deck, hopped up, got its bearings, then scurried back up into the tree, unwilling to let broken bones or wounded ego interrupt its nut accumulation. I remember feeling sad that no else had been there to see it. ‘Hmmph,’ I mumbled. ‘Drive on, intrepid rodent.’
Alas, my yard has been squirrel-free since my acquisition of dogs and I often wonder: From whence sprang this hatred between dogs and squirrels? The combination of imagination and sweet sweet liquor allows one to speculate on possible answers, all reeking of drama and intrigue. Perhaps there was a time before aqueducts when dogs and squirrels ruled the European mainland, keeping the Ostrogoths and Visigoths in line by providing them instructions on how to brew things like mead and Jagrmeister. A shaky peace reigned between dogs and squirrels, kept in tact by a common commiseration involving agreement on the generally nasty nature of humans.
Trouble started as it so often does in epic tales of battle and woe. The fire of hubris was applied to the kindling of misunderstanding when a question posed by the dogs’ queen regarding whether or not squirrels appreciated the subtle stench of each others’ genitalia was answered with a flippant, ‘Bitch, please’ by one of the squirrels. Most of the dogs failed to see a problem with the reply, but it wasn’t for them to decide what was or wasn’t insulting. The bitch was running the show and when this happens, disaster inevitably follows. With reckless efficiency, regiments were drawn up on either side and the wheels of the military industrial complex began turning with gusto.
Across vast European fields (for this is where most great battles have happened) sat the two furry armies and in large tents on either side of the expanse, councils of war formed and debated the best courses of action to take the following day. The squirrels had intelligence and cunning on their side, while the dogs tended more toward organized brute force, but not without purpose; they were tactical geniuses, skilled at using decoys and feints to throw their enemies off before out-flanking them. Of course, this wasn’t news to the squirrels. Their problem was in their size, or lack thereof, but their advantage was in their speed and engineering know-how. Both camps slept uneasily that night, sure that the following day would be bloody.
The morning broke bright and clear, a lovely day to die in the parlance of melodrama. The queen had directed that the most annoying of the toy dogs be placed in the front vanguard, because even their own breed hates them enough to use them as cannon fodder. Through squinted eyes, she and her generals could make out the squirrels gathered in the east, formed in regiments, but with some sort of contraption sitting in the middle of their massive formations. Unable to make it out and frankly too excited to care, she ordered the toys forward with a brigade of labrador retrievers following closely behind.
As might’ve been expected, the toy dogs ran frantically forward, then through the squirrels’ ranks and beyond, making a lot of noise and nipping at each other, but not doing much else. The labs, seeing this without a hint of surprise, moved forward until suddenly the squirrels launched hundreds of tennis balls and chew toys directly to the south (long before tennis was invented, making the activity even more amazing). The labs tore after the booty and were rendered more or less useless by their collective glee at the prospect of so many squeaky toys bouncing hither and yon in the tall grass.
It was then that the squirrels began to move forward, having effectively neutralized the dogs’ lead elements. As the squirrels advanced, the queen and her staff were able to finally make out what the gigantic contraption was that they’d see earlier.
Queen: Well, I’ll be damned.
Colonel Lucky von ButtSniff: Pardon?
Q: They have a trebuchet. Shit.
And so they did, which explained their ability to wing so many debilitating items southward, rendering the more playful of the queen’s minions useless. What followed was the kind of paw-to-paw combat that only Tolkein could adequately describe, what with ‘FOES’ being ‘CLEAVED IN TWAIN’ by weapons with names like, appropriately enough, ‘FOE HAMMER’.
Carnage ruled the day, as it does in such unfriendly affairs, until finally only a few survivors remained on either side. A truce was called, which has more or less stood the test of time. The passion obviously still burns, however. Upon showing my dogs the picture of the trebuchet, one of them picked up a lamp, threw it against the wall, then walked out of the room. Hate, unlike dairy, has no expiration date.
Sir @ August 19, 2009