2017-02-15 / Editorials

Milly’s war against geese and squirrels

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

Milly, the liver and white springer spaniel who lives at my house, has discovered squirrels. I’m not certain how I feel about this.

As you know from reading this weekly effort, my previous springer, Glory, was an avowed squirrel hater. As a puppy, she chased one up a telephone pole, then sat contently at the base of the pole as if she fully expected the squirrel to come back down again. I eventually had to pick her up to break her concentration.

The area around our house was considered a “squirrel-free” zone. Glory would sit at the sliding glass door and bark furiously until there were no squirrels in her line of sight. And I’m happy to report, she was successful. At no time during the nearly 15 years we were together were we ever ambushed in a surprise squirrel attack.

Her hatred of squirrels was a little surprising. She was a sweet dog, who loved other dogs and humans equally, and she never barked or growled in anger – unless there was a squirrel nearby.

But for Milly, it’s been different. She’s turned 3 in January and until recently showed no interest in squirrels at all.

Her enemy is the many geese on Lake Lanier. We walk regularly in a park on the lake. As our path takes us alongside the water, she immediately begins looking for the geese. She hates to see geese on the water. She hates it even more when they are on land. She pulls on the leash trying to get at all.

“If you’d let me off this leash for just a minute, I’ll take care of those geese once and for all,” she said.

“You’re not going to catch them,” I tell her. “As soon as you get close, they are going to fly away. And you can’t fly.”

We don’t even have to be at the lake for the geese to rattle her. She’ll stare out the window as they fly overhead. When we’re walking, she’ll stop and watch them.

Last week, though, she noticed her first squirrel. It was apparently walking in the grass near where we were walking. I say “apparently” because I didn’t actually see the squirrel at first. But I felt her nearly rip my arm off lunging at the squirrel. That’s when I turned and watched the squirrel scamper up a pine tree.

“Really? Are we going to do this now with squirrels?” I asked.

“If you’d just let me off this leash for just a minute…”

“You’d what? You’d climb a pine tree? I don’t think so. And just for the record, the squirrel is not going to come down the same way he went up, especially with you sitting here. I’ve got prior experience at this.”

I finally got her attention back on the walk, but for the next 200 feet or so, she kept turning around to look back at the tree.

I was hoping that this would be a one-time thing. It wasn’t. She now spends as much time during our walks looking for squirrels as she does for geese, and I’m getting a great upper body workout trying to keep her on task.

You’d be surprised at how strong a 30-pound springer spaniel can be.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN.com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/blog/mitch.

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