Jackie and the Squirrel Lady–Who the Predator; Who the Spectator?

Jackie, the dog, on the grass at my feet
Jackie’s last trip to West Virginia–2005

Jackie loved to startle the Canadian geese into flight—darting at them where they munched the grass next to the pool parking lot and left behind their green and white little-finger-sized droppings. She went only a few paces with no hope or intention of catching any of the big birds—just amusing herself at their expense. She merely exchanged silent stares with the occasional deer that appeared at the far side of  the parking lot. Squirrels offered the most exercise, the most sport. She chased them across the yard and up one of the trees. They, it seemed, were actual targets of prey. If she could, she would have pursued them up into the trees; instead, she had to settle for front paws high up the trunk. While she may have only wanted to play, the squirrels were uninterested in coming down. She watched them more calmly through the glassed-in porch door when they came to snack on the peanuts we left for them on the landing. She tolerated them much better than the “squirrel lady,” whose backyard was opposite ours across a storm drain. She hated them, complaining that they made holes in her yard digging up nuts they had buried. Not that her yard was much to look at. She wanted us to stop feeding them; we refused. She trapped them in cages she hid under cinder blocks, wood piles or other debris. The bait she used contained a drug that sedated them sufficiently for her to paint their nails red—to identify repeat offenders. For them, apparently, a capital offense. Having observed her submerging a caged squirrel in a water filled trash can I called animal control. I learned that squirrels, not being endangered and in fact considered potentially a nuisance animal, could be killed by a homeowner in our jurisdiction.

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