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The Squirrels Must Go

Squirrels. They’re the bane of my existence right now.

My dogs have been on a squirrel hunt for as long as I can remember. Roxie, my boxer mix, sits on the couch each morning, looking through the tiny slats in the bamboo blinds covering the window, looking for movement in the pine trees that tower above my back yard. It’s a squirrel’s paradise and Roxie’s not having it.

Each morning we go through the routine of Roxie spotting a squirrel, running to the back door and barking like crazy until I get up to let her out. She bolts out the door with the full intention of nabbing a squirrel, but comes up empty time and time again. She’s yet to catch one. The squirrels find sport in it as well, running back and forth along the top of our wooden fence, almost taunting the dogs.

A couple of weeks ago I was in my office working and heard a scratching noise above my head. Then I could hear the tapping of claws that sounded suspiciously like my little dog, Paco (a chaweeie), but he was sleeping at my feet. Then came the sound of chewing. And gnawing. And the dogs began going crazy.

My brave husband (who grew up in a high rise in downtown Caracas, Venezuela, where there were no squirrels in the attic, because there was no attic), ascended the steps up to the attic and took a look around. He reported back that he saw some torn bags, and chewed boxes, but no squirrels. He did, however, see a couple of places along the eaves of the house with daylight coming in.

A neighbor let us borrow a Have-a-Heart trap. My husband baited it and put it in the attic. He also put a strobe light up there, because he read that squirrels don’t like flashing lights. The next day, the activity above my head increased. I’m convinced they were having a disco dance party above my office.

Yesterday I was reading in the den and heard squirrels above my head. That’s the other side of the house from my office. Enough’s enough. I called in the big guns. I have some professional critter catchers coming tomorrow to see if they can do the job we’ve been unable to do.

I have a history with squirrels, and it’s not a good one. A few years ago I went to the last farmer’s market of the season at Livingston. It was evening, and there were pretty bistro lights strung among the cypress trees. My neighbor was purchasing something from one of the booths and I was waiting for her, enjoying music played by local performers. Suddenly, something hit me square on the face. Hard. It knocked my glasses off my face and almost knocked me over. I put my hand to my face and realized I was bleeding. I couldn’t imagine what had just happened to me.

I noticed people were looking at me, mostly in horror, as my face was bleeding pretty badly. A woman walked up to me and said “I saw it.”

“Saw what?” I asked.

“I saw what hit your face. It was a squirrel,” she said, with a deep Southern drawl. “It swooped down out of the tree and hit your face. Then it ran off that-a-way.”

A squirrel? Really?

Just then, a lady came up to me and reached out, a hunk of clay on her fingertips. “Let me daub some of this clay on your chin.”

I felt like I was in a bad dream. She wanted to put clay on my bleeding chin. “It’s got medicinal properties. We dig it ourselves from our creek bank.”

It couldn’t get any worse. “Sure,” I said. “Go ahead.”

She patted my chin with a liberal dose of clay and the stinging and bleeding instantly stopped. My neighbor snapped a picture of me, my chin covered with gray clay. I walked over to the clay booth and bought a tub of the “Miracle Clay.” As my daddy says, “can’t hurt, might help.” I needed a miracle.

The next day I had scratches on my chin, and my pride was hurt a bit, but otherwise I was OK. But I knew in my heart that squirrels were not my friends.

When the critter catcher comes tomorrow, I’m going to tell him to have no mercy. The squirrels must go.

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