The forest crawls with creatures borne from the crepuscular shroud hanging between the darkness and the light. Foxes stalk through the undergrowth, only giving themselves away with a flick of their tails as they disappear into another thicket. Those eyes you spot in the beam of your flashlight may be a raccoon, or a possum. There are cries in the distance, howls and barking that betray the presence of coyotes.
But there lurks a far more fearsome creature. One that taunts my dogs, tempting them into a fight or flight situation with breathless sprinting, tooth and fang, blood and viscera.
I am, of course, speaking of the common grey squirrel that makes its home near my own.
My dogs discovered the squirrels soon after moving in, probably days after the squirrels made note of these new interlopers in their domain. As the squirrel makes its way across my front yard it turns its head at the sound of yowling, barking, and yes, even simpering coming from the direction of the house. Look, it thinks to itself. I've found new blood. Something to annoy that I've never annoyed before.
Dusti is my Labrador mixed with Whippet. Cosmo, her trusty companion, is a Pit Bull mixed with a Ford Elite. We, as yet, have no fence to contain them. So a few times a day I take them to the yard, strung out on a leash, and they may do those things that they need to do. Sometimes I'll hook Dusti up to a long lead we have wrapped around a tree. She's more sedate, and I'll let her wander a bit while I walk Cosmo. When I get back, I put him back inside and take her out for a stroll.
Until yesterday, when she got a glimpse of her demon foe soon after I clipped her collar to the lead on the tree. She darted into the woods, a flash of black fur and ivory teeth, held back only by a cable and a Kentucky coffeetree. Her erstwhile companion and sergeant at arms straining at his own leash, grinning wide with the gay abandon of a being who desperately wants to take the life of another.
I held fast, pulling him back inside while Dusti became ever more entangled in the brush at the edge of the forest. After taking him back inside, I thanked the cosmos for my short stature as I crouched beneath briars to string the lead backwards, freeing her from the trap set by herself and a squirrel with a warped sense of humour. It was not a successful venture for the mighty hunter Dusti Springfield and her sidekick Cosmo the Barbarian.
But there will be tomorrow.
As for me, all I can bring to mind is the thought that, if these dogs do manage to catch a squirrel, then that squirrel deserved to be caught. Nothing that wild and wood-wise should ever be taken by down by these two who stalk the forests in much the same way that bricks do.
When a problem comes along
You must Whippet