January 24, 2006


Out of the Blue

Some dogs, I've noticed, hold little regard for the sky. Planes go by and they take no notice. A heron soars and they remain blase. Even human objects thrown - sticks, tennis balls, floppy discs - are regarded with almost cat-like disdain by these aerially challenged canines.

Well, I have my flaws, but a nonchalance for the denizens of the great above is not among them. From the time I was a pup, I've been a watcher of airplanes and blimps and those terrifying helicopter things flying low over the rooftops. I often stop and stare and wonder.

Maybe it comes of being a born bird dog. But I also think it's been honed by my experiences. I remember walking off-leash down the sidewalk with Molly one balmy morning, just taking in the neighborhood, when - WHAM! - a squirrel smashed into the sidewalk not eight feet in front of us. Now, I'm usually a great fan of squirrel chasing, but this was unexpected and rather appalling. I mean, that squirrel must have fallen 25 feet out of the top of a palm tree! It just lay there, its tail over its body, unmoving. I looked at Molly and she me, neither of us quite knowing what to do. I approached it slowly with Molly saying, "Are you sure that's a good idea?" I took that as a note of caution but not objection. I reached out my muzzle and gave it a hesitant sniff.

I suppose a wild dog would have jumped on his advantage, making a snack of the wounded prey right there. But we househounds are a tad less decisive. Just then, my nose still in his tail fur, the squirrel suddenly popped back into consciousness, wobbled over to a tree trunk and began to climb in a zigzagging, dazed fashion.

Maybe squirrels have more than one life, just like cats. Got to admit, I've felt a little more respect for those lithe, chattering, scattering beasties since then. Still, I wonder about what kind of taste would have gone with that smell. I'll always remember the roadkill not taken.

And just the other day, we had another close encounter of the squirrelly kind. Again, I was with Molly walking down sidewalk when, SPLAT, a half-eaten orange dropped right smack in front of us. The weird thing is, there wasn't an orange tree in sight. It seems some squirrel had hauled the fruit up an oak tree, had breakfast, and then decided to bombard us with the remains.

Was he aiming for us? Just trying to scare us? Perhaps. Or maybe it was the same squirrel as before, trying to share his breakfast in gratitude for the fact I didn't jump on his clumsy butt the time he plummeted to the sidewalk. I don't know, and unless he starts blogging I'm unlikely to find out. But this I do know: it pays to look up. Cause you just never, ever know what kind of nutty stuff might drop in out of the blue.

Squirrels can be quite vindictive, Hank. I think the little sucker was aiming for ya. Your line about the "roadkill not taken" is absolutely classic and had me in stitches.
not up, but down, hank. sudden noises get my ears perked, yet my nose dives down towards the earth, or carpet... sniffing to anything which could be considered prey. cookie crumbs are always at death's door when im on the job. youre a retriever, you have to find falling objects from the sky. im a terrier, close to the ground, finder of mice, killer of the fallen potato chip. -- endo
Great post as always!

Bro Mark is one of those doggies that have no regard for the sky - even if there was food. He'd just wait for it to plop onto the floor for him to eat -_-

You're right, it pays to look up!
Uma was a Lab and so bred as a bird dog but she never looked up. But Rockwell does so I find the contrast very interesting. I hadn't thought about plummeting squirrels as an issue but will pay more attention now.
Aww, thank you SO much!

I forgot to post all of my links back up, so I'm WAY thankful you posted a comment. I knew there was something missing from my daily routine!
:D :D :D
devilishly amazing!!
Dear Hank,
I was just sharing my breakfast with you, though I have to admit I was using my natural insticts as well -- and I was aiming for you. Thank you for not making a snack out of me and I in turn promise to no longer tease you by playing in front of the window while you are whistfully looking outside.
The Squirrel
Hi Katherine,

Thanks. Wasn't sure if I'd get a Frosty reception to that one. It's seldom I come across a pun not taken. Learned it from Molly.

Hi Endo,

Yes, you're right, of course. Every dog has his specialty. I'd be a lousy finder of earth-bound rodents, but I can dive for a chip pretty well for a big guy.

Hi Furkids,

Personally, I like to snap things out of the air, though Molly says that's a bad and scary habit. Mike, on the other hand, seems to get a kick out of it once in a great while.

Hi Juliar,

Actually, one of your posts got me thinking about this issue. Not all Labs are created equal, apparently. Maybe squirrels don't plummet everywhere. Maybe our Florida fruit-eating squirrels are fat and lethargic in this the Land of the Lotus-Eating Rodents.

Hi Klaneeko,

Thanks! Glad to you see again.

Hi Sam,

Yes, and very weird.

Hi Etchen,

Well, thanks for getting the squirrel to post and clear up this matter. Sharing and aiming both? And making idle promises, too? (Hey, I saw you playing in front of the window just this morning, I think) Well, you can put the squirrel out of the oak tree but you can't take the nut out of the squirrel!
We have a tree out front where deranged squirrels live. One fell 40 feet last year and walked away goofy as ever. They try to sneak up on kids and scare em. But they don't scare me and the other dogs around here. I haven't tasted a warm squirrel, only frozen versions. So far I think they taste very gamey.
Hi Cal,

40 feet! Astonishing. Sometimes the porch looks to high to me.
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