All God’s Creatures

Squirrels and possums: those are the animals that our dogs love to hate. The squirrels are smart and like to taunt the dogs. The possums are just plain stupid to keep coming into our backyard.

Smart Squirrel
We have 1 squirrel (we’re convinced it’s the same one) who loves to taunt our dogs. And it’s actually a benefit to us because it keeps the dogs occupied for hours on end and they’re exhausted when they come back inside. Here’s how the game works: the squirrel makes his presence known by squeaking. That makes the dogs go crazy and sit at the bottom of the tree staring up and sitting still, just hoping the squirrel will make a mistake and fall to the ground. The squirrel has become brave recently, as illustrated in the photo on the left (that's the squirrel on the lowest branch of the tree; that's Layla in a "stalker" stance; and Heidi is out of the range of the photo in a similar "stalker" stance). He’ll come slowly down the tree, closer and closer to the dogs. The dogs stay VERY still like statues. When Heidi senses that the squirrel is close enough to her, she’ll make her move. She jumps up as high as she can onto the tree trunk and the squirrel always narrowly escapes back up to the high branches. Layla plays along, but never has a chance of actually catching the squirrel. That game repeats itself until the squirrel has finally had enough and he moves on to the next backyard. The fun part is when the squirrel jumps into our larger oak tree. You see, Heidi can climb the oak tree (see photo to the right). Once the squirrel sees Heidi climbing closer, he jumps back into the other tree that Heidi can’t climb. Smart squirrel.

Stupid Possums
We’ve had 4 instances so far where we look out into the backyard to find both dogs sitting there “surrounding” a possum. Twice they were baby possums. Twice they were adult possums. I’m hoping that completes the family because I don’t know how much more of this I can handle (I have compassion for all animals, so it breaks my heart—and grosses me out—when I see this). We actually don’t think our dogs intend to kill the possums. We usually find them “playing” with the possum. With the smaller baby possums we saw them tossing it up into the air and catching it. With the larger adult possums we saw them pawing at it and then doing a “stare down”. Have you ever heard the phrase “playing possum” (it means pretending to be asleep or dead)? Well, the last adult possum did just that. When we noticed him in the backyard with the dogs, it looked like the dogs had already killed him. I brought the dogs inside while Ben went to the shed to get a bucket. When he was inside the shed I watched the possum get up and take off running. Hmm, maybe he’s not such a stupid possum after all.

I guess all of God’s creatures have some sort of purpose in this world. Even if the purpose is just for our dogs to have something to play with…