The Chihuahua and the Squirrel
by Tina Blue
December 31, 2000
My family moved to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in 1962. The house we moved into had a large picture window in the living room, which we thought was pretty neat, since we'd never had a picture window before.
One morning, just before we'd pulled open the drapes on the picture window, our two-year-old chihuahua Tiny (okay--my parents weren't all that original when it came to naming pets) ran behind the drapes and started going nuts. We pulled the drapes open, and there in front of the picture window was a squirrel, teasing Tiny.
My older brother Pat took Tiny outside. (We never let her out by herself. She was, well, tiny.) Of course she took off after the squirrel, who ran up a tree in the front yard. Tiny danced at the foot of the tree, yipping madly. The squirrel didn't go up very far--just far enough to be out of Tiny's reach.
The squirrel must have calculated the distance very precisely, because Tiny was leaping as high as she could, but the squirrel remained barely out of her reach. Tiny would race around the tree trunk several times, then make several desperate leaps at the squirrel, then run around and around again. This went on for some time, with the squirrel chattering and trash-talking the whole time.
Finally, Tiny was so exhausted that she couldn't keep it up any more. She flopped down panting at the foot of the tree. The squirrel inched its way down toward her, but retreated quickly when she leaped up once more to try to catch it.
This time when she collapsed, it was obvious that she wasn't going to be lured into getting up again. The squirrel did its best, taunting and teasing the poor little dog. But Tiny had pretty much had it, for the time being at least.
The next morning, when we drew open the drapes, there was the squirrel again, chattering outside the window, teasing Tiny, who was, of course, madly attacking the picture window.
This went on every morning, and usually more than once a day, during the entire fall season. It ceased over the winter, but started up again in the spring. I don't remember how long it lasted--time seems forever when you're a child, so it probably wasn't as long as I remember its being. How long could that silly squirrel have lived, after all? Anyway, we only lived there for two years, so maybe I am not wrong in thinking that it continued the whole time we lived at Seymour Johnson AFB.
But after the first couple of weeks, it was obvious that Tiny and the squirrel were actually playmates. She wasn't really trying to catch the squirrel--she was playing with it. We found out that the squirrel was sort of a neighborhood pet. It was semi-tame from having been fed by so many families along our street.
And Tiny wasn't its only playmate. There was another small dog who lived across the street, about a block away; and after we got to know the dog's family, they told us that Peanuts (my parents named the squirrel--I told you they didn't stretch too far for pet names) also paid regular visits to their dog, Duchess.
I don't remember any neighborhood cats, though. If any lived in that area, they were probably kept indoors. That's a good thing. I don't think Peanuts would have been able to persuade a cat to play, and a cat couldn't be safely teased from just above the head. Cats, after all, can go up trees as easily as squirrels can. Before Peanuts could have made friends with a cat, the cat would have killed him.
Peanuts was smart enough to only make friends with really small dogs. That's why he came calling at our picture window to introduce himself to Tiny shortly after we arrived.
But what I don't understand is how he knew that a small dog had moved into that house.