Sunday, December 12, 2010

betty is back

Weekend Fun: Squirrel in Toilet (VIDEO)I
I'm not sure what kind of animal this is, but I think it's cute.  This photo accompanied an online article about a woman in Oklahoma who found a squirrel in her toilet and called 911.  I've always liked squirrels.

The neighbors and the people who frequent the park in front of my house undoubtedly take note of the fact that I feed squirrels.  Since I have the misfortune of living in a very uptight neighborhood, I reckon the neighbors are appalled.  One of them actually gathered the courage to confront me a couple of years ago.  He wanted to know why I would want to attract rodents to my house.  Since they were enjoying their shelled peanuts outdoors, not in my living room, I wasn't sure what he meant.  Did he really think that I was responsible for the presence of squirrels in the area?  Really?  Who knew that I possessed god-like powers to create and distribute wildlife??  

I was born liking animals.  When I was around 8 years old, my parents came home from an after-dinner walk one evening bearing a dream-come-true for a child of my ilk: a BABY SQUIRREL!  I cannot describe the ecstasy I experienced as I researched squirrel nourishment and began mothering the dear animal.  I used a medicine dropper to nurse the baby and even managed to get some slow-cooked steel-cut oatmeal into him.  Rascal was indescribably cute and nothing pleased me more than contributing to his sustenance.  

As is so often the case, ecstasy morphed into devastation.  Early one evening the doorbell rang.  I was busy feeding Rascal, so I ignored it.  A few moments later, my father appeared with a neighbor boy, Phillip, a hapless child who was not particularly favored among local kids.  My father spoke some of the most awful words I ever heard:  "Phillip says that this squirrel is his.  It fell out of the tree in front of his house and it had escaped when I found it.  You have to give him back his squirrel."    

To this day I remember the look on that squirrel's face as he was taken out of my hands by my father and handed to Phillip.  So I never got over squirrels.  I will always have a soft spot for them.  And if the neighbors don't like it, well....

Last summer I had a major victory.  I got one of the squirrels to eat out of my hand.  (Those of you who know squirrels at all will realize how unusual that is.  Chipmunks are so greedy and bold that they easily approach humans for handouts, but not squirrels.) 
You would expect a squirrel to take the treat like an untrained dog- with a quick, grabbing gesture, borderline dangerous.  Nope.  The squirrel was gentle as could be, once she managed to talk her reluctant body into inching close enough to me.  She calmly took the nut in her mouth and settled down to eat it gratefully - ecstasy for both of us.

Over the past couple of weeks I have had enjoyed an augmentation of my at-home wildlife viewing.  Five times over the past few days I have seen deer outside of my house.  Mind you, I live within city limits of the 15th largest U.S. city.  Deer are not expected visitors in my neighborhood, although I do live on a park with a wooded ravine.

This morning it's snowing heavily.  I would not have seen the deer running past my window if my dog, perched in his window seat, had not begun barking ferociously.  Predictably, a large, very fast dog OFF-LEASH was in hot pursuit.  

It bothers me to no end that this city lacks a leash law, unlike every other U.S. city that I know of.  The off-leash dogs are a constant presence around my house because I live on a park which is extremely popular among dog fanatics.  The dogs have terrorized and bitten my son and killed our beloved Chihuahua.  They chase squirrels, birds, chipmunks, ground hogs and now deer.  

I still like dogs, as evidenced by the fact that I own one.  However, I am less than thrilled with the dog OWNERS around here, who somehow justify owning dogs which they think require acres of free space to run in, at the expense of people and wildlife trying to enjoy the park (or their own residence in my case).  I think that those dog owners are out of touch with reality.  If they really do own dogs which require that amount of freedom and exercise, then the owners are irresponsible to be harboring the dogs within city limits.  

Someday this city might wake up and enact a leash law.   Then what will those dog owners do?!  (I can tell you what they'll do.  They'll keep on doing what they're now doing, knowing full well that the city's police force is stretched too thin to deal with off-leash dogs!)



Lynilu said...

I find it fascinating that your neighbors are more concerned with your practice of feeding squirrels that in the pursuit of dog control in the neighborhood! There is something just intrinsically wrong with that!

moni said...

I don't like your neighbors Betty! Hope the deer got away ok. Can't imagine a major city not having a leash law, seems odd somehow. I think it is great that you feed the squirrels and isn't that one of things people do in parks?

Big Dave T said...

Just stopping by to wish you season's greetings. We're heading south since we can't hibernate like the squirrels do.

I just read something today that the number one social problem in Denmark is dog owners who don't clean up after their pet. I don't know if they have a leash law.