Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hey! This is Fun! (But NOT for all parties involved.)

Saturday, while I was running around the house trying to get dressed up and made up and wrap presents for a bridal shower, and have one lousy cup of coffee that I desperately needed, I heard Lucy outside barking...a lot.  

Typically, while the dogs are outside, Lucy and Linus will chase each other around the yard.  It is their favorite activity.  Lucy's legs are shorter than Linus', though, and she knows she can't continue to keep up with him.  She's like a cheetah.  She can catch him in short bursts, but when he runs laps around the yard without stopping, she falls behind, and like any woman, HATES being left behind by a man.

She plays the chase game for a lap or two, then takes up her station on the deck.  Linus will make one more giant lap around the yard until he comes back around and sees Lucy is not following him anymore (Lucy is ALWAYS the chaser).  And like a pinball who won't stop bouncing around until falling into a hole, Linus begins his little game of trying to get Lucy to chase him again.  He begins by weaving a small web of intrigue.  He gallops around the patio set on the deck at a slower pace, and Lucy is quickly drawn into the game for twenty or so laps.  This is where he peels off, hoping the magnetic pull of the chase will continue and she will follow him off the deck by default.  No dice.  Time to regain her energy again.  So he expands his web, running quick laps around the perimeter of the deck.  This has worked one way in his favor....she is, in fact, intrigued.  But she is, after all, a smart girl, and begins playing a game of her own.  The Waiting Game.  She stands up on the deck, about two feet off the ground, and idly trots from one side to the other as Linus races the Backyard 500 around and around the perimeter of the deck.  But she doesn't just watch.  No.  She eggs him on.  Barking at him to keep him engaged in his own game, making him think she's just about ready to give chase again.  And she only barks when she's playing...or Duncan is eating from "her" food bowl.  She'll hound (pun intended) this point further by occasionally running over to the edge of the deck like she's really really considering jumping off and joining in.  And after Linus has run 300 of the 500 laps and is visibly tiring and starting to trip over his tongue...she makes her move, and the chase is on once again!  And then rinse...and repeat.  All.  Day.  Long.  

The above is what I expected to witness when I heard Lucy barking outside.  What I saw instead was the Bulldogs taking turns tossing a baby squirrel into the air.  Lucy would bark when it hit the driveway and did not move, and she wanted it to "play".

Commence me screaming curses at the top of my lungs at the dogs to get away while trying to check and see if the poor squirrel is "okay", and continuing to scream while trying to get the dogs inside.  Funny how a story can go from amusing to traumatic in a paragraph, huh?  And the trauma doesn't end there.  After getting the dogs inside and getting gloves, I was terrified by the thought of having to go back there and see what they had done to the squirrel.  My throat was raw from yelling, I already had tears running down my cheeks, and it was beginning to storm.  

I think the most heartbreaking part of this experience was that the baby squirrel was still laying there, making a chirping sound.  I think this hit me the hardest because I couldn't help but think that it was crying for it's mom.  

I put my gloves on, leaned down, and started trying to take a damage report.  Clearly, something was wrong because it wasn't moving.  Then, it looked like it was having a seizure.  And as sad as it sounds, I was still slightly scared that it would hop up at any moment and "attack" me.  When I finally realized that it probably would never move again, I picked him up and looked him over.  There wasn't a scratch on him.  There was some blood that was coming out of his nose, but no puncture holes, no scratches, just fur, wet from saliva.  

I'm not a doctor, but I had a good guess that there was internal damage.  He stopped chirping, his breathing sounded raspy and was slowing, and I just held him and cried over him.  I lightly stroked his little side and back and told him how sorry I was that my dogs did this to him.  I know that I ended up with a shoe box with an old towel inside and set him in there after awhile, but I honestly don't remember putting him down to go get those things.  Then we got in the car and headed to the vet.  While I wanted to think that they could do something for him, when I blubbered to the receptionist that my dogs got a hold of him and he was still alive, she just took him from me and said, "Don't worry, Honey.  We'll check him, and if he's still alive we'll put him down."

I knew this would be the outcome, but somehow that didn't make me feel any better.  At least if he was still with me it may take longer, but he had someone to hold him and be with him.  The main point was that he shouldn't have to die.  I wanted him to be okay.  I don't handle death well, and it was no surprise to me that this upset me so much.  I felt completely responsible for the death of the baby squirrel.  And for the rest of the day I wanted nothing to do with the bulldogs.  We didn't make up until the next morning.  I finally broke when Lucy just kept following me around, sitting there, looking at me.  She knew I was mad, she knew I was upset, but she didn't know why.  It's funny, because she knows when she's been naughty (but that's for another post), but she didn't know she did anything wrong.  My husband tried telling me this over the phone, but at the time I couldn't believe him.  I knew it the next day, though.  They truly were just trying to play with the squirrel.  Unfortunately, that didn't work out too well for the squirrel.  But I can't hold that against them.  They didn't mean to hurt him, they just didn't know what they were doing, like when Lenny pets the mice to hard and ends up breaking their spines.