Our feeders seen from inside the house.
One day last year, my wife told me she’d seen the oddest thing, a squirrel attacking a hawk. She said she was watching a young squirrel raiding our bird feeders outside the dining room window when a hawk stooped and knocked the squirrel to the ground. The hawk, of course, pounced back onto the squirrel to have some lunch, when another squirrel that Lisa hadn’t seen jumped from the deck railing onto the hawk, attacking the bird.
Sadly, we never did get a picture of this thug-like tree rat. The psychotic squirrel was easy to identify, he only had half of his tail, the back half being lost to some accident or predator, maybe even this very hawk. The wife immediately named him Badass Squirrel.
The squirrel became a fixture around the back yard. Fill a feeder? He would raid it. Set out some stale bread for the birds? He’d inspect it and decide if he wanted it or not. We even have a suction cup mounted bird feeder attached to the dining room window, on the other side of the glass from the cat perch, and he’d climb right in, ignoring the cats, the dogs, and after a few weeks, even ignoring my family if we wanted to have a look.
Photo from Wikipedia – click to go to the article
Of course, the dogs hated it. they would pop their heads up and glare at the squirrel through the window, once in a while woofing or snapping at him. They’re (mostly) hunting dogs, two German Shorthaired Pointers, an American-English Coonhound* and a German Shepherd. And this chaotic pack of rescues has caught squirrels and chipmunks in the past, so both the wife and I KNEW that one day, something might happen. (We’ve had conversations about her not naming things, since once it’s got a name, that’s all there is to it, it’s part of the family. We both want a farm, but I can just SEE every hog, every cow, chicken, etc. having a name, and then instead of a FARM, we’d have a private petting zoo…)
Not that we don’t have a petting zoo now, four dogs, three cats, three turtles, two tanks full of fish (ok, NOBODY pets the fish) and a horse. And yet every week, one of us says something like ‘I wish we had enough space for goats, or cows, or sheep….’
Our dogs (from near to far) Gretchen, Zelda, Brody and Cinders.
So, now we have a dilemma – the squirrel has a ‘name’ and we have big hunting dogs who, due to lack of actual hunting to do and general overabundance of energy, focus their wrath upon the squirrels of the neighborhood. Just last week, when I got home from work my wife was telling me that Cinders (the darkest GSP at the top of the photo) had ALMOST caught Badass Squirrel, but the squirrel had turned around and tried to attack him, which made my dog veer off. (This squirrel had been aggressive towards other critters for the better part of a year, and our dogs have all their shots, so I wasn’t worried about rabies.) So now Badass Squirrel had not only bullied a hawk, he had bullied two of my four dogs, since usually only Gretchen and Cinders actively chase squirrels. Gretchen actually thinks they GROW on trees, and fall out when ripe, she’ll stand and watch a tree for an hour, waiting for a ripe one.
Needless to say, this wasn’t going to end well in time, and yesterday was that time. I was washing the mud off of my truck from the shoot Saturday and keeping an eye on the dogs, because Zelda and Brody like to sneak into neighbor’s yards when they can, and I heard an angry squeak in the garage behind me. I turned the hose off, walked into the garage, and found Gretchen and Cinders standing over Badass Squirrel, who was in bad shape. The dogs weren’t worrying the squirrel, if anything, they were treating it like one of their plush toys at this point, which, while they adore their toys, isn’t a survivable experience for a three pound rodent.
So, that was the end of the story for Badass Squirrel – Gretchen and Cinders caught him (and Cinders has two small bite marks on the side of his nose to show that the squirrel did NOT go gentle into that good night) and that was his downfall. I have to say, Badass Squirrel even looked angry after his passing. He is now buried back in the woods he called home, and my wife is saddened by the loss, even thought I TOLD her not to name the squirrels.
I’m sure she’ll name the next one she takes a fancy to as well.
* This is mainly for people who know us – we’ve always told our friends and family that Gretchen was a Bluetick Coonhound mix, most likely with Black Labrador retriever, however a few months ago I came across a photo of an American-English coonhound, and you know what, I’m pretty sure that’s our dog happens to be. We based our information on what the rescue group we got her from said, however, after hearing a few other stories about that group, I’m surprised they actually got her gender right… Judge for yourself: