Sometimes it feels like I live in the middle of a Disney movie, with all the sweet animals that walk up in my yard and feel right at home.
A family of deer visits daily, and are practically tame.
There’s a fluffle of bunnies we see every spring.
A murder of crows who will call for us to feed them.
Lots and lots of squirrels.
Bold, brazen, assertive squirrels, too.
We’ve even grown to the point of being able to recognize certain squirrels and have named one cheeky little rodent Baby.
Doodle is not very pleased with our inclusion of the squirrels and rightfully so.
She has had some not-so-friendly encounters with them in the past.
Maybe they witnessed what Doodle did to a baby bunny when she was just a wee pup and they feared they would meet the same grisly fate.
Or maybe she tried to catch one once.
Whatever it was, there was tension between my little pittie-mix and the front yard habitants.
Since Doodle is not a barker and prefers to just look at something really hard, she could often be found staring at the squirrels in the yard through the screened portion of the porch.
Head down, eyes locked, and the fur raised on her back, she would be frozen in her spot as she watched her prey.
As ferocious as she is in her own puppy mind, she never expected the squirrel to do the unthinkable.
Rather than being scared by her intimidation tactics, it charged toward the porch.
Being the terrifying watchdog that she is, Doodle screamed and ran back inside, looking for Ava to protect her.
The German shepherd had to get off the bed and go outside to defend Doodle from the squirrel and its army which had emerged from the trees.
With a satisfied bark, Ava went back inside and hopped back on the bed, and Doodle looked quite smug, knowing she had someone to scare off her arch enemy.
The squirrels seemed to have the memory of an elephant as one beaned Doodle on the head with an acorn one evening as we sat by the fire pit.
At first, I thought it was just one falling from the tree that hit her.
But then another came down.
Then one hit me.
“Ouch!” I yelled.
I heard the squirrels chatter above my head.
“Hey!” I yelled. “I give you peanuts! You shouldn’t hit me!”
Doodle was not happy about their retaliation, but retreated, planning her revenge for another day.
She was having another stare-down contest with one a few days later when it took an unexpected turn.
Not only did it charge towards the porch, but it ran up a nearby tree and then jumped towards the rail.
Doodle backpedaled like Scooby Doo and ran inside. She didn’t even bother to get Ava this time, evidently thinking the squirrel may be bold enough to attack her packmate.
It worried me though. Baby came up on the porch rail all the time, and I hated to think that because she feels so familiar with us, and even Ava, who never had a mean bone in her extra-large body, that she would feel safe with Doodle.
“I’m scared she’s going to get Baby,” I told Lamar one morning.
He frowned. “It’s possible. You remember the possum?”
I shuddered. He had spared me from seeing it, but that had hurt our feelings. Doodle was normally so sweet and cuddly, like a toddler; the thought she had such a strong prey drive was alarming.
“She seems so passive the rest of the time.”
“It’s the terrier part of the pitbull in her,” Lamar said. “They were bred to hunt vermin and go after things like that. The rest of the time, she’s in her own little Boo-Ann world, and gets scared if anyone raises their voice. But if it’s something she thinks is a rat, she’s like the Terminator.”
As I worked one morning, I heard what sounded like something knocking on the window.
I was a bit alarmed, as I was home alone and didn’t know who would get that close to the house to tap on a window; I also was worried they could see me sitting there in all my pajamified glory working.
I slowly looked around and saw at the kitchen window, the chubby little squirrel we’ve come to love, Baby, pressed up against the glass.
“My stars,” I murmured to myself. She’s hungry.
I got up and grabbed the peanuts, and as I opened the door to the front porch, she hopped down and ran ahead of me, pausing every few steps to make sure I was going to give her the nuts.
“You are a brave little squirrel,” I told her as she shimmied down to the grass below. “If Doodle had run out here just now, you may have met Jesus.”
As I tossed her the nuts, I noticed a dozen other squirrels making their way to grass in front of the porch, eager for me to throw them some nuts.
Seeing how Doodle would be greatly outnumbered and knowing she had spent a solid 10 minutes pouncing on her own shadow earlier, maybe Baby was safe after all.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.