Herding Squirrels by Sheri Levy
Every morning I took my dogs to play on a neighbors eight-acres of pasture land. Using the Chuck-It-Stick, I’d fling their red balls a distance for them to chase and retrieve. One day while chasing the ball, the dogs spotted a squirrel dashing up the tree. They spit out their balls and sprinted to the tree, barking and leaping at the trunk. Some squirrels are smart and stay put, but this one decided to run to another tree.
I stood, waiting for both dogs to return. When Slater dashed back with blood dripping from his mouth, I panicked thinking he’d bit his lip. Then Mulligan ran to me with the squirrel dangling from his mouth. I knew then Slater wasn’t hurt. He’d been the one who caught the squirrel. My stomach churned and my heart hurt, believing they had killed the squirrel.
I screamed, “Drop it.”
Mulligan would drop it for a moment, and then Slater would grab it. They repeated this back and forth. Even treats didn’t catch their attention. They were intoxicated with the squirrel.
After a few more attempts of playing keep-away from each other, the squirrel lay on the ground, not moving. Relieved but sad, I planned to remove the body to get their attention. I pulled out a clean poop bag from my pouch. With my thumb and forefinger, I reached down to pick up the sad creature by its tail and began to drop it into my shallow plastic bag.
A second later the squirrel’s head hit the bottom of the bag, bending its head towards my hand and clamped onto my right ring finger. Its sharp teeth penetrated both sides of my finger and I let out a thunderous, ear-piercing scream.
My hand flew from the bag, but the squirrel hung on. Shrieking, I violently shook my hand and both dogs stood below the squirrel, moving their heads up and down. Until it finally let go.
The squirrel landed at my feet just under Mulligan’s head. He tried to bite it again, but the squirrel was faster and bit Mulligan’s lip. As it hung from Mulligan’s mouth, he moaned and whined. His lip lifted the squirrel only inches, leaving the tail lying on the ground. To help Mulligan, I stepped on the squirrel’s tail. It immediately let go of Mulligan’s lip. In that instant, I grabbed the dogs’ collars, hooked their leashes, and we walked home.
Coming in the house, crying and bleeding, my husband met me. His face crinkled in concern, “What happened?”
Slater’s face had been licked clean. All the evidence had disappeared. In tears, I repeated the incident. He didn’t say a word. Only his eyes widened as my story grew.
When I exclaimed how I had grabbed the squirrel to remove it, and how it bit me inside the bag, he started laughing, tears filling his eyes. I stared at him. “What in the world are you laughing at? This isn’t funny. I’m hurt.”
He held his stomach, bent at the waist, hysterical. “When you think of being bit, it’s not ever by a squirrel. Were you trying to save it?”
“Not this time. I wanted to distract the dogs.”
Murphy took a look at my finger. “Let’s wash this. And then you need to call the vet and see if you need a rabies shot.” That sent my stomach into convulsions.
My daughter manages the Vet’s office and answered the phone. I told her what had happened and she laughed. My eyes scrunched. What is so funny.
Dr. Hill chuckled and said, “Squirrels don’t usually carry rabies, but since you’ve been bitten, you should ask animal control.”
Murphy looked up the phone number and helped bandage my finger. I called, and after locating the squirrel, he drove us to the animal control office. With my right palm open, I kept my fingers straight-up to prevent the throbbing. I looked as if I was ready put my left hand on the Bible and say, “Everything that happened is the truth.”
I had an appointment with my doctor the next day. When she walked into the exam room, my finger was wrapped in band aide and pointed upward. She asked, “Sheri. What did you do to your finger?”
Disappointed that she noticed, I said, “Dr. B. I’m not going to die from natural causes. It’s going to be something the dogs have done to me.” I retold the whole story and added, “I thought the squirrel was dead.”
She tried to control her amusement. She went out of the room and brought in a book for medical suggestions. “Let me look up squirrel bites.”
A few moments later, she gasped and smiled. “Sheri, I believe it was playing possum!”
I couldn’t contain myself and let loose with laughter.