I used to like squirrels. I even thought they were cute with their little bushy tails and their chubby little bodies. I lived my life, they lived theirs. There was a mutual respect between us. A peaceful existence. I hate to say it, but I feel like I must be honest: things have changed.
I have touched on this before, but it's time to go into detail... Claire has a huge obsession with squirrels. Now, I totally understand that many dogs share her obsession. But Claire takes it to another level completely. I don't know what it is about squirrels that makes every dog stand at attention when one is nearby, but multiply that reaction by ten and that will give you an idea of what Claire is like when she sees one.
I have three big windows in my kitchen that face the backyard. A few feet in front of the kitchen windows is a huge tree. At any given point in the day, you are more than likely to see Claire standing on her hind legs with her front paws on the window sill. We call this stance Squirrel Duty. And whenever she spots one, she starts whimpering. No, "whimpering" doesn't even describe it. The noise that Claire makes to alert us to a squirrel's presence is more of a loud and high-pitched keen. She starts pawing at the window, almost as if she is trying to dig her way through the glass to get to the squirrel that sits on the other side.
It's pitiful. It's pathetic. Her desperation just breaks my heart.
I have tried everything to get her to stop. I have tried "leave it" commands (this works when we are on our walks, but not while she is in the midst of a staring contest while she in the kitchen). I have tried soothing her. I have tried ignoring her. Nothing works. She becomes fixated on the squirrel and her heart races and her whole body quivers with... Excitement? Rage? Anticipation? Frustration? I don't even know.
A few months ago, I heard Claire in the kitchen. She was on Squirrel Duty and was crying about it. I looked out the window and saw a squirrel in her line of sight. The squirrel was taunting her. Staring at her. Beckoning her to come and chase him. I'd had enough. I took a broom, went out onto the deck, and started yelling at the squirrel to leave Claire alone. (Yes, I realize how crazy this sounds. Don't judge me.) The squirrel didn't run up the tree or across the yard while I was ranting and raving. The squirrel just stared at me. And then he hissed. I stopped yelling. I just stood there. And then I went back inside.
Squirrel = 1. Lauren = 0.
But it's not over 'til it's over.