HEY EVERYBODY! KARI FROM WESTERN WASHINGTON IS LOOKING TO SHARE EXPENSES TO THE CLINIC!
ALSO!!! BECKY BEAN MIGHT NEED A HORSE HAULED TO MONTANA FROM SOUTHERN CA. ANYBODY?
LET ME KNOW!
It was a typical day at the house.
I had already been out with the sunrise, and had worked the dogs and the horses by 8 a.m.
Don't get me wrong, I am not all that ambitious, it's just that between the drought and the fires, early morning is the only time to get anything done outside.
Susy was puttering around the house, muttering to herself as she worked her way through our old dusty place. She's been a friend for 30 plus years, and lucky for me, is a home health aid too. When it came time for me to admit I couldn't keep up with the house and Jim 24/7, at least in a way that didn't leave our place looking like the oldest trailer in the junkiest trailer park in town, she was willing to take us on.
This leaves me with enough energy to ride, work dogs and write. In other words, a state that keeps me sane and using my fading reserves for what's important. Jim is happier too, he trusts our old friend, so is comfortable with her in the house. He enjoys her company and my healthier mind set.
At the same time, she brings her lab, Mandy, with her. When I'm babysitting the granddog, Dobby, it puts us at six dogs running around the house. I love it, but after a bit, Jim and Susie start looking a little bug-eyed.
Anyway, for the moment, all was peaceful at the house. I was at my computer, the dogs were sprawled out on whichever of the eight dog beds scattered around the house that appealed to them. Jim was following Susie around, offering her his never ending helpful input, and I was able to sink into my writing. I disappeared into a land of creekside trails and mystery, at least until the crazed cacophony of the whole pack in full song came crashing through.
Now what? Freaking dogs. I heard a panicked shrieking that didn't fit in with the rest of the choir-- like the old lady in church who thinks she sings way better than she actually does--a high pitched scream ending with a mad chatter.
It was a squirrel. Wait a minute, the dogs were all in the house. The squirrel singing soprano seemed only inches away. I hit save, put down the computer and looked around the corner. Except for the elderly and deaf Snocone and Dinah, who were still snoozing, the dogs were climbing over each other in a total frenzy. The fricking squirrel was in the house.
"What the hell is going on?" Susie hollered over the din.
"What?" Jim asked. "I can't hear you, the dogs are barking."
"There's a squirrel behind the book case." I yelled.
"What?" Jim yelled a little louder.
"You have a stinking squirrel?" Susie didn't look surprised, just exasperated.
"JANET HAS A SQUIRREL!" she hollered a Jim
"No I don't have a squirrel! It came from outside!"
"What? Did you say squirrel?"
All our shouting made the dogs even more excited, their barking, snarling and bellowing was reaching new heights and the two with tails wagged them hard enough to stir up a breeze. Dinah stuck her head out from under her chair and Snocone mumbled in her sleep.
Susie waded through the pack and looked in the space behind between the bookcase and the wall.
"It's back here!" she called.
Ya think? I grabbed a broom and a cat carrier and headed on over. The dogs crawled all over Susie, trying to get at the shrieking critter. Jim came up behind me with a poker.
"What's the poker for?"
"Damn squirrel probably has rabies," he muttered. "Maybe plague, or hantavirus. He might have fleas!"
"And you wonder why we don't have a gun in the house," I said.
"PUT DOWN THE POKER!" I yelled.
I kicked back the dogs and peeked at our intruder. He looked like he was wishing he had rethought his morning. I gave Susie the broom and tried to position the cat crate in an appealing, this will take you out of hell, kind of way.
She eased the broom down the wall. As soon as the squirrel felt the bristles, he spun around, shot up the broom, across Susie's arm, hit the wall and pushed off over the dogs heads.
It was Rocket J. Squirrel doing Mission Impossible.
Susie screeched and started cussing.
He raced around the house, the pack in hot pursuit, Susie ran behind them, waving her broom in the air, I followed with the carrier and Jim came behind me, poker at the ready.
Rocket J. buried himself in the closet. The dogs crowded in, shoes and office supplies began flying out. Susie whacked at the dogs, the squirrel came out over their backs and was gone. Dinah came halfway out from under her chair, her little nose quivering.
"Wait a minute," I said. "We are not going to catch that frigging squirrel, and Jim's right, we do have plague, hantavirus and rabies going around this year."
"Don't forget the fleas," he said. "If I had my gun I could take care of that squirrel."
"No guns," I said.
"Quit yelling at me!"
I kicked out every dog that wasn't Charlie or Dinah -- my long retired vermin control team. Charlie is still capable, but Dinah at 14, is deaf as a post and just about blind. Gotta work with what you've got though.
After a minute or two, Dinah decided the rest of the dogs weren't coming back and she emerged from her den. Charlie bounced around her, his stub tail was wagging like crazy. Dinah is gray and heavy with age, she's looks a lot like a footstool, but she stood square on her arthritic little legs and tested the air with her nose, then tasted it, just like the old days. She snuffled around until she found the squirrel hiding under the fish tank stand, then she left Charlie on guard and began to backtrack the trail
She followed her nose, lifting her head and carefully tasting the air every time she hit a spot where Rocket J. was either airborne or running across my counters. She ended up under the dining room table, snuffling and snorting the floor and trotting a small circle. Satisfied, she lay down and looked over to Charlie, ears on the alert and an excited glow in her cloudy eyes.
"What?" Jim asked.
"Not you, Susie!"
"What?" she asked.
"You might want to step out of the way, this might be gross."
Susie backed down the hall and covered her eyes.
Charlie was trotting back and forth in front of the fish tank, his excited whine told me the squirrel was still holed up.
I opened the screen door and a few more windows, just to give the poor varmint a fair shot and said,"Get the mousie (code word for kill anything moving), Charlie!"
He went nuts. Barking whining, scratching, he tried his best to jam himself under the fish tank.
Rocket J. trilled back, then fell to cussing him as only a squirrel can.
Right when I thought I'd have to get the broom and help my dog, the squirrel came blasting out and made a run for it.
Charlie was right on his heels, his little yelps rolling steady as he called the chase, the dogs locked outside started barking and howling. Jim was running around the house, waving the poker and yelling,"Where is it? Where is it?" Man, my neighbors must just love us.
The squirrel ran over the couch, jumped to a bench against the wall and tried to scramble to the ceiling. Charlie had his nose on Rocket J's tail and sent couch cushions flying, knocked a stack of books off the bench and scrabbled some long scratched in the paint as he tried to follow up to the ceiling.
The squirrel hit the floor running, shot through the kitchen and landed in the water bowl. Water splashed across the tile and Charlies feet shot out from under him as he came around the corner. His legs spun like a paddle wheel until he was up and running again, but his wavery little howl never skipped a beat. The squirrel tore into the family room and under the dining room table. There lay Dinah, her gray head on her paws and an intent shine behind her clouded eyes.
SNAP!!! She had him, and one hard shake spelled out the end of Rocket J. Squirrel.
She paraded around with her prize for a bit, just wiggling with joy. Charlie jumped around her pulling at the squirrels fuzzy tail, but not hard enough to take it from her.
"How did she know where to go?" Susie asked.
"What?" Jim said.
"HOW DID SHE...oh never mind," she said.
"When Dinah and Charlie used to hunt rabbit, ground squirrels, prairie dogs and the like, they would spend a couple days just chasing them. Eventually, Dinah would figure out where they holed up when they went to ground and lay there waiting. Once the critter appeared Charlie would run it. Most of the time the animal of the day ran a big circle and back to it's hole. Dinah would be waiting, and well, you saw the result.
"I'm guessing the open window over the table is where the squirrel came in."
Dinah dropped Rocket J. at my feet and I gave both dogs a cookie, the same trade we had made hundreds of times over the years.
"Good dogs!" I told them. They grinned back.
"What?" Jim asked.
"PUT DOWN THE POKER!!"