Our dog Juliet has quite the battle raging with the squirrels in our apartment complex. On many, many occasions, she had attempted to climb the trees after them. Those attempts have always ended the same way: with her plopping to the ground. Yet, no matter how many times that happens she never learns. She just keeps trying to do it. Well, just the other day, she finally did it.
We were walking Juliet out the main entrance of our complex and we approached the little mail kiosk that sits off to the side. It has its own little driveway so people and the letter carrier can pull off from the main road so check their boxes. That drive separates from the road by a narrow landscape island and that island has three low trees on it. Well, this day one of our squirrels made the mistake of looking for food in the driveway. I guess I shouldn’t blame the little fellow. After all, many people toss crumbs out their car window; there are always tidbits for the squirrels to have a snack.
As we approached the area, Juliet saw the squirrel. She went into ‘stalking mode,’ head down, eyes fixed on the target; she slowly marched forward. Then she struck.
Juliet shot forward, full on racing and the squirrel made for the middle tree in the little island. Up he went; he jumped to the far tree. I think he was hoping to get to one of the big trees near the mailboxes, but was unable to leap that far.
Juliet made her move. She raced to the bottom of the tree, where the squirrel sat. He saw her, jumped to the middle tree and then into the closest one. Juliet did one of her famous upward jumps.
Her jumps are incredible. She goes from a standing position, bends her legs slightly and then shoots virtually straight up into the air several feet. That was what she did, at that point. Standing beneath the far tree, she bent her legs, pushed off and rose into the air.
Coming to rest on a tree branch, Juliet managed to stabilize her position. She put her left back leg back and touched another branch. From there, she scanned the tree and looked genuinely disappointed the squirrel was not nearby.
I could sympathize. After all, given the effort she’d put forth to get up there and stay there she was entitled to a reward. Not this time, for sure.
The squirrel had a different opinion and agenda. Turning toward her, he looked quite surprised to see ‘The Beast’ up in his world. He chattered and chirped at her for a moment and then she finally lost her balance.
Down she came, but did manage to land on her feet. It was a good thing too, as she came down on the asphalt pavement. Racing to the closest tree and scanned the branches for that no-good squirrel, but it was too late; from that tree he had been able to reach the lower branches of one of the larger trees, and from there to safety.
While the endeavor had been an overall failure, Juliet had achieved a tiny victory; a small milestone reached. Juliet, for the first time, had managed to climb a tree. I can’t say that the squirrels were impressed and cowered in fear when she walked by after that, but they did seem to give her a wide berth. I think she make an impression on them.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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