This afternoon I brought my dog Jane from my house to Tom and Beth's, which I am staying at while they are gone on vacation. As I opened the gate to the back yard Jane spotted a squirrel.
Jane has always dreamed of catching a squirrel, but up until that moment it was a statistical improbability for her, since I normally have her on a leash. In the split moment after the door was opened she looked at me, I at her, and we both realized, to my fear and her joy, that there was no leash attaching us. Like a thoroughbred straight out the gates, she quickly created distance between herself and me and aimed her snout like a heat seeking missile toward her intended target.
I assumed the squirrel would run to the fence, climb up it, and the chase would be over as quick as it started. It made it to the fence, but didn't run up it. I quickly saw that the squirrel was small, probably young, and was just getting it's running legs, not quite sure of it's climbing abilities. It turned around, her possible killer a split second behind her, then ran UNDERNEATH Jane, causing my dog to jump so high and awkwardly that she tumbled over.
Quickly regaining her footing, Jane repositioned herself and picked up speed again. At this point the squirrel was heading in my direction. There was a tree between me and the squirrel, so (again) I assumed it would scale the tree. No such luck. As it passed the tree, there was only one thing in between it and a small opening at the bottom of the fence-- Me.
In that small moment I had a couple of thoughts. One was about all the series of rabies shots in my stomach I would soon be forced to endure. The other was a question of whether or not I wanted Jane to catch the squirrel. I began weighing the options. (Yes, all this happened within a small window of time) If she caught it before it reached me, then I'd be safe from rabies (and the subsequent rabies shots.) It would also be good for her self image to accomplish something that is in her blood to do, which is to catch and kill something.
Then I thought about the blood. I would have to clean up the blood. And, my dog would know what blood tasted like, which could turn her into Cujo.
I then realized that I have to stop thinking of nonsense, because there is a squirrel just five feet away from me, and it began eying me like I was a tree. A tree that is manageable.
The rest is a blur to me. All I remember is being air born, trying to create vertical space between me and the rodent. It made it to safety.
As we walked up to the house I looked at my dog. It appeared as if she had a look of satisfaction. I didn't catch that thing, she seemed to be saying, but DAMN that was fun.