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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Published: Friday, 6/1/2007

Water War!

FRIDAY

9:30 AM

This is war.

All wars require strategy, resolve, and weaponry.

I now have all three.

At Target last night, I bought the Super Soaker that for years I ve been threatening to add to my arsenal.

Take that, all you %$*^ squirrels!

Let me describe the battlefield for you.

In my back yard, outside a set of French doors that lead onto a deck, stands a large maple tree. The end of the deck, meanwhile, is flanked by a pair of allegedly dwarf flowering crabs. I say allegedly because these babies grew waaaay taller than the nursery promised, lo these many years ago.

In any case, the crab tree branches are now so tall they meet at the end of the deck, arching over the steps leading down into the yard. These branches also flirt with the maple tree branches (yes, I know, time to prune).

Anyway, if you were, say, a squirrel, you could easily leap from one tree to the next. And so it is that my backyard directly outside the floor-to-ceiling glass-paned French doors is a veritable squirrel playground.

And I, pour soul, am the keeper of a dachshund.

Now, let me just say a few words about the breed.

First, I adore them. I am certifiably besotted with (by?) all doxies, but especially my own. (Maybe it s all those years of Bad-Boy Boyfriends, but for some reason I don't just tolerate dachshunds, I'm hopelessly drawn to them.)

Second, for every winsome, yin adjective you can use to describe a doxie, there s another troublesome, yang adjective waiting in the wings.

Comical. Stubborn. Playful. Willful. Sweet. Irascible.

Dachshunds: bred to hunt. Specifically: bred to go after badgers in their tunneled dens. Badgers: notorious fighters. If dachshunds were people, they d be the sort who starts bar fights. Got the picture?

Oh, and did I mention they bark?

(A lot.)

The bark of a dachshund is unlike the bark of any other small dog. This is no squeak-toy sound. This is the sound of a far larger, more fearsome animal. H. L. Mencken once described the breed as a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long, but people who hear a dachshund before they see it are generally surprised at the diminutive size of the noisemaker.

If you re a normal person, you d be wondering right about now why anyone would find this breed alluring. But if you d ever looked into the soulful eyes of a dachshund who loves you, you d understand. That countenance, frankly, is sometimes all that spares a naughty doxie. As in, If you weren t so cute, why, I d .

As you might imagine, my prey-seeking, deep-barking hound dog spends a lot of time parked at the back doors, gazing out onto the fenced yard that is his kingdom, e'er watchful for something anything worthy enough to provoke barking.

A chipmunk. A rabbit. A robin. A nearby neighbor. A leaf, fluttering to the ground from a tree.

But, most especially, a squirrel.

If my dog could talk, he would alternate between saying just two things: You gonna eat that? Hey, didja hear me? I SAID, you gonna eat that? Well?! Are you?, and, Oh, I HATE squirrels! You have no idea how much! They mock me! They sit up there in the trees and chatter listen! You can hear them even now! Oh, I HATE squirrels !

And squirrels the ones who live in and around my back yard, anyway -- would say only this: Just you TRY and get me, you low-slung noisemaker! Whee! This is FUN!

No one will ever persuade me that squirrels don t have a bully s sense of humor. They perch on the lowest branches of the maple tree, start up their incessant chattering, and I am not exaggerating peer into the family room through the French doors, looking for my stupid dog so the taunting (an Olympic sport in Squirrel Land) can begin.

And they taunt with malicious intent. A good squirrel prosecutor could have a field day

I have spent years trying to broker a truce. I have shushed an hysterical dachshund more times than Amy Finkbeiner has probably tried to clap a hand over her husband's mouth. I have stepped outside to shake my fist and scare away squirrels more times than the Toledo school board has tried to chase off those folks from the Urban Coalition.

But neither tactic seems to work, so I m finished playing United Nations peacekeeper. I am now entering the battlefield myself as a full-out, armed combatant.

For this, I thank Lonnie Johnson, aerospace engineer, yes, but more importantly, inventor of the Super Soaker.

By sunset, one or another four-legged creature around here will be drenched



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