He has known sin at last, my gentle dog. Ravi has slain his first squirrel.
I had him at the corner park on Wednesday, and a squirrel that had been taunting him from relatively safe perches went scampering now and again dangerously close to the jaws of a dog who was feeling some rather primal impulses. At a certain point the creature scrambled up the trunk of a tall palm tree from the base of which Ravi has vainly attempted times past to reach scores of squirrels securely chattering indignation and abuse anywhere from six to thirty feet beyond his reach. He runs round and round the tree, frantic with bloodlust, and the squirrels dart down the trunk until they’re nearly within reach and then streak skyward to the fronds.
Late that afternoon, alas, the creature made an ill-judged attempt to quit the palm for another tree, and the moment the poor beastie hit the ground Ravi was on it like stupid on Sarah Palin, seizing it between his formidable jaws.
“NO!” I yelled, using my best Zeus-on-his-throne (and really pissed off) voice, and for a wonder this actually overrode about fifty million years of Canoidea evolution, the thin overlay of reflexive obedience imposed by just a few thousand years of Canis lupus familiaris genetics combining with the social conditioning to which our domestic dogs are subject sufficing to cause him to drop the doomed rodent from his mighty mandibles. The squirrel was stunned, no longer in a taunting mood, and Ravi, only momentarily ensorcelled by His Master’s Voice, lunged agin. “NO!!” I repeated, adding anabolic steroids, crystal meth, a Peet’s double espresso, 20 CCs of pharmaceutical epinephrine and a fifteen-hundred watt amplifier channeled through vintage “Voice of the Theatre” monitors the size of steamer trunks to the mix. He hesitated for long enough for the squirrel to scramble up the tree, where it was met, at about the 18-foot mark, by another squirrel that assaulted it cruelly and knocked it to the ground, a long fall. The poor creature was even more dazed this time, and Ravi, by this time berserk with bloodlust, lunged forward for the kill. I fear that even Master’s moral suasion, however loudly conveyed, might have fallen short of its desired effect at this point, and so had recourse to grimly seizing his sturdy collar, planting my heels in the sod and growling “This far and no farther” as my dog gave crazed way to the murderous impulses of his ancestors. The squirrel once more escaped to safer altitudes and was this time not assaulted by its fellow.
Alas, yesterday evening we returned to the scene of the crime to find a squirrel corpse lying by the base of the palm. I suspect that the first encounter, from which I thought my roared reprimand to have spared the creature’s life, may have proved fatal, possibly by means of internal injuries or bleeding, after all, although I'd prefer to imagine that it was the entire sum of its traumas, including the long fall administered by its fellow, that did it in. I regret the whole episode, while acknowledging that had Ravi killed a rat instead (we’ve had rat issues here in the Crumbling Manse now and again, and are notably unsentimental on the subject) I would likely have shrugged it off.
R seemed disappointed and puzzled all the way home on Wednesday that I had thwarted him just when victory and vermin were a crushing bite and a vigorous neck-snapping shake away. I stopped at the Food Hole en route and purchased him a quarter-pound of beef stir-fry which, stuffed into a “Kong,” went a long way toward distracting him from those fruitless speculations.
As it should be. They ask for so little.