Arthur just might be able to catch a squirrel, if it is a baby squirrel.
I found that out this morning.
Mark and I were sitting at our kitchen table after breakfast where we have a view of our driveway and the garden and woods beside our house. Mark was reading the news on his iPad and I was playing Lumosity, trying to keep my wits sharp, and not doing a very good job at it.
“Arthur doesn’t even see that squirrel,” Mark said. Arthur, who was in the near vicinity of a squirrel on the driveway. He never allows a squirrel to be in the yard without a chase. If he’s inside looking out at the squirrels, who scavenge bird-feeder droppings on our front porch, he starts barking. “Do you want to get the squirrel?” I’ll say. And Arthur races for the front door, taking the turns around the staircase on three legs. He’s never going to catch a squirrel, but he doesn’t know that.
This morning, I couldn’t see Arthur on the driveway from where I sat, but I could hear him barking. I stood up, went to the door, and saw this baby squirrel on our wind wall post.
“Oh no. Arthur’s got the squirrel trapped,”I said. I thought it was cute because I never believed for a minute this would end with a satisfying result for Arthur, but he was revved up by the chase.
I did what I always do, reached for my camera, stepped outside, and started shooting.
This clearly wasn’t good enough for Arthur. He was going in.
So close. Just not….quite….close….enough.
Meanwhile, the assumed parent squirrel could only wait and hope as he or she watched from a nearby tree.
Arthur darted in and around the post trying to find a way to access the squirrel. Clearly this baby was terrified.
That’s enough, I thought. I’ve got to get Arthur away.
Easier said than done. There was no way this undisciplined little canine was going to come when I called. I was afraid to approach the squirrel for fear it would panic and get itself into a more vulnerable position. That was exactly what happened.
It jumped to the bushes, fell to the ground, back to the bushes, back on the post, then repeated with Arthur inches behind it. Finally the squirrel gave up on the post and tried to make a run for it. Arthur chased it behind the bushes beside the house. The squirrel passed by a tree that could have saved it, and continued on to the porch with Arthur and me, my camera dangling from the strap around my neck, in hot pursuit.
Arthur had the little guy cornered against the wall of the porch. And I could see all the games we played with his toy squirrel had trained him well for the darting, pawing, and biting he was attempting.
I didn’t think, but merely reacted when it looked like Arthur had his prey. I lunged for Arthur and landed full force on my bad knee on the cold hard concrete, banging the lens of my camera against the concrete in the process. But I bought the squirrel enough time to make it to the boxwood bushes where the chase continued. I watched helplessly, sitting on the cold concrete, yelling for Mark.
Mark came and had no better luck than I at grabbing Arthur, but much better luck at not injuring himself during the chase. Finally, the little squirrel jumped to the tulip tree at the corner of the house and achieved relative safety. Mark helped me up and eventually managed to lure Arthur away from the hunt with pieces of cooked chicken.
I didn’t know if Arthur had injured the baby squirrel until I saw it a few minutes later with the parent.
Baby looked fine as far as I could see. Arthur was never thanked by the squirrels for his role in the valuable lesson in vigilance, awareness, and evasion. And I will be icing my knee today.