Monday, October 25, 2010

Adventures in Dogsitting: Sheela

"Sheela," my mother informed me recently, "is mad at you."


"Because you did blog posts about Molly and Rikki and not about her."


Setting aside the indisputable fact that dogs can't read, I suppose that in all fairness, Sheela does deserve her own turn in the limelight. The problem is that I'm not entirely sure what to say about her. Unlike Molly and Rikki, who are stubborn or goofy enough to be entertaining, Sheela...doesn't do much.

She's eight years old and, like Rikki, is a toy fox terrier. Unlike Rikki, she prefers to go through life with an economy of movement. She rarely becomes truly animated, except under two very particular and very different sets of circumstances.

The first, which has always been the case, is if my husband happens to walk into the house. For some reason, and various theories have been presented but she will not confirm or deny any of them, Sheela's favorite person seems to be my husband. When he visits, he is required to devote at least the largest share of his attention and petting skills to her. To be fair, she does exhibit at least some semblance of excitement upon seeing other members of the family, but for my husband, she will actually move.

The second event which stirs Sheela to action is one which she shares with Rikki. It's possibly the only thing they have in common apart from their breed and coloring, and it's a relatively new development; this has only been going on since my parents moved earlier in the year. Now that they're semi living in the woods, Sheela and Rikki have become what my mother likes to call "the Squirrel Scouts." Sheela is the troop leader; Rikki is the Junior Squirrel Scout. Apparently there is a distinction and I was roundly abused for even questioning it.

Woe betide any squirrels who dare to trespass on the property. Those two will bark, growl, whine, and -- given half a chance -- run after the squirrels to make them leave. It's a little like being in the Disney/Pixar movie Up, but without the translating collars.

The fact that they don't have access to most of the yard doesn't seem to cross their minds; although the yard is fairly large, Rikki and Sheela can only go out into the fenced-off side area. The squirrels, however, seem to have picked up on this limitation, and if I didn't know better, I'd think they were entertained by it. They've figured out that the dogs can't hurt them. So they go about their business, collecting acorns and raiding the bird feeders, and shake their bushy tails at Sheela and Rikki in an almost taunting fashion. I could have sworn I saw one make a rude gesture the other day, but I may have been sleep deprived.

This situation is creating a few problems, though. In my post about Molly, I mentioned that she sometimes gets to go out into the front yard on the leash like a real dog. For a long time, Sheela honestly could not have cared less about this. But in recent weeks, the light bulb has switched on in her brain and she's realized that the front yard is, in fact, part of the squirrel-infested area. She's even managed to realize that the front yard, unlike the side yard, is not fenced. You can see the wheels turning in her little head.

No fence + oak trees = SQUIRRELS!

So she keeps trying to escape when Molly gets taken for a walk. The thing is, I don't think Sheela knows exactly what she would do with a squirrel even if she somehow managed to catch one. It would never happen, since she'd have to run more than five feet and she hates doing that, but I imagine her capturing the squirrel and then gazing at it in confusion. She wouldn't want to eat it, because her preference is for only eating things that are hand-fed to her, and unlike Rikki, she probably wouldn't want to play with it. I think her secret dream is to collect five or six of them and use them as a soft place to sleep. Those brushy tails probably look like small cushions from a distance.

I'm crocheting a blanket for her. Maybe she'll find that easier to conquer.


  1. I miss having dogs, and your post reminded me why. It's amazing that our pets can have such distinct, strong personalities. We are so conditioned to think of animals as inferior to us in that way. xo

  2. Dude, *I* do the whole, "SQUIRRELS!" thing XD I hope they're not around by Thanksgiving, because that could be embarrassing...


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