If you saw the 2009 movie Up, you’ll remember Dug the Dog and his obsession with squirrels. In fact, all it took for Dug and the other canine characters in the film to drop all activity and snap to attention was the sight of a squirrel, or even just the spoken word: “Squirrel!”
This squirrel-obsessed animated movie pooch resonates with any dog owner here in Studio City, where S.C. could also stand for “Squirrel Central.” We humans worry about coyotes and skunks, but our resident dogs worry about squirrels. Squirrels clearly know this, and so devote much of their leisure time to harassing our pets.
It happens in the park, on the street, on a leash – in fact, the only time Heidi thinks it’s perfectly OK to disobey the command “Stay!” is when a squirrel has entered the picture. She’s been scolded, put into the “down” and threatened with “no biscuit, ever” but that hasn’t stopped her from charging off after any and all squirrels in her visual range. Sure, cats are fun -- but this is personal.
Heidi also seems to believe that if she growls and jumps up and down long enough, she will eventually bounce high enough to catch a squirrel who is, say, taunting her from a telephone wire or the highest frond on a palm tree.
Sherman, our resident squirrel, knows this, deep in his tiny, insolent brain. He’s the little…animal who shows up every morning to interfere with Heidi’s breakfast routine by loudly cracking palm nuts (he sounds like an entire family of African baboons), dashing across the telephone line that stretches above our back yard or, in his more brazen moments, perching on the deck rail or even moseying across the deck itself, right in Heidi’s view: “Catch me if you can!”
Being a shepherd, guard dog to the bone, there is no limit to the number of times Heidi will fly out of the house to try to apprehend Sherman, woof woof woof. Sometimes she blasts him with her favorite squeaky toy, but he's oblivious to this warning siren.
Heidi and I named the squirrel Sherman because we think it would be a really good idea for him to move to Sherman Oaks. Usually he comes alone, although sometimes he trespasses with another squirrel, whom we have dubbed Berman. We are not sure of the exact relationship between Sherman and Berman: friend, spouse, life partner, criminal accomplice. Whatever – Sherman, and sometimes Berman, seem to have it in for Heidi.
I don’t know how long squirrels live – probably not 10 years, which is how long ago a similarly pesky squirrel used to show up on the deck to harass our late cat, Chrysler. This brazen little beast would go so far as to throw nutshells out of a tree at the our bemused 16-pound tabby, who never hurt anyone (although he occasionally would snap up a lizard or small bird and, being ever so helpful, leave it on the deck outside the sliding door in case anyone inside happened to be hungry). Probably not the same squirrel, but Sherman is surely a descendant in this long line of incorrigible pests.
To date, Heidi has not caught Sherman, which is probably good because I don’t think she would have any idea what to do with him, and we’d really just as soon not have a wild rodent as an indoor pet. But after stalking sneaky Sherman for several days at breakfast time, we got some footage of the perp in action (see video). So if you see Sherman – with or without Berman -- please report him immediately to the Patch for a sound scolding and possible relocation to Sherman Oaks.