There weren’t many squirrels around when Andy and I moved into our little house in Southern California. The native Western gray squirrel lives off oak trees and hangs out mostly in forests. SoCal isn’t big on forests.
The few squirrels we did begin to see weren’t natives. They looked exactly like the squirrels I grew up with in D.C. and Virginia. That’s because they were Eastern fox squirrels, brought to Santa Monica by veterans a century ago as pets. These squirrels are savvy little scavengers. They used telephone and electrical wires to colonize Los Angeles County.
They’ve bamboozled numerous elderly neighbors into feeding them peanuts daily. Which means that those invasive squirrels bury their unshelled peanuts in my flower beds and Andy’s vegetable gardens. They also eat our peaches, but not in a good way, like Mr. Possum.
Mr. Possum stops by our yard at night, helps himself to the compost bin, and chows down on any ripe fruit that’s fallen off trees (fallen fruit is best when covered in insects—extra protein). The worst thing Mr. Possum does is sneak a bite of leftover dog food.
An Invasive Dick Squirrel, on the other hand, will climb the peach tree, pull off an unripe peach, and take one bite. Then he drops it in the yard. He finds another peach, eats one bite, and drops it. Because that’s how Invasive Dick Squirrel rolls.
We encouraged our dogs to chase those squirrels. “Get it” became a command. The furry demons were forced to retreat from our backyard. They still dug up my freesia and pansies in the front yard, though.
Unfortunately, there was a problem with teaching the dogs to chase squirrels.
They didn’t stop. They become squirrel-chasing addicts, like the dogs in the movie Up.
Which wasn’t bad when I walked dogs early in the morning, before the squirrels woke up.
During the last few weeks of no school, though, I’ve taken kid, soccer ball, and dog to the park. (Parks and paths are open, playgrounds are closed.) Baby D juggled and kicked his ball on a huge field, rather than into our neighbors’ yards (retrieving a ball is not compatible with social distancing). I’d walk the dog until he got hot, then sit on a picnic bench near a shady tree.
On our last trip to the park, an Invasive Dick Squirrel was hiding in the tree. Unbeknownst to me, it crept down the tree and scuttled within a few feet of the dog.
Well, that’s what I assume happened. All I really knew was that I was yanked sideways off the picnic table and dragged a few feet before all the swear words coming out of my mouth caught up with the dog. He stopped.
Invasive Dick Squirrel got away.
Dog and I had a discussion about the merits of “stay” versus trying to catch even the stupidest Invasive Dick Squirrels.
We went back to the picnic table and continued counting how many times Baby D could kick/ knee the ball without dropping it.
Less than 5 minutes later, I was on the ground AGAIN, because Invasive Dick Squirrel had returned. It clearly understood and took advantage of the concept of leashed dogs, standing just out of reach, chittering smugly. While my wrist burned and my hip throbbed.
I let the leash go and said, “Get it.”
Have you ever seen a squirrel’s face go from “Ha-ha” to “Oh, fuck?”
I have. It was glorious.
No squirrels were harmed in the making of this post. Unless you count a TINY bit of fur off of the tip of a bushy tail. But don’t feel bad for it. It is an invasive species.
And also a dick.