By Charlene Dunlap

My Standard Poodle Sydney is an avid student of squirrel behavior. Like any student who wishes to excel, she strives to be as close to her subject as possible. However, unhappily for Sydney, squirrels have proven too elusive for her enthusiastic “jaws on” approach to research.

When Sydney spies a subject of interest in the yard, instead of the stealth approach favored by more successful squirrel “behaviorists,” she throws caution to the wind and flies out in hopes that her blinding speed will allow her to reach the squirrel before it scuttles to safety. This is a tactic employed when she thinks the squirrel is too far away from anything to climb.

I'm sure you're familiar with the term “squirrelly” (Maybe even called someone that?), but have you ever actually seen the source of this term enacted? Let me tell you - it is usually an effective tactic. It's a diversionary action a squirrel on the ground may take when it finds itself in mortal danger. First, it darts in one direction then flips around and darts the opposite way . . . back and forth, back and forth. It's enough to make a pursuer dizzy!

As our yard contains several large trees, it's only a matter of time before the squirrel is out of danger. It scurries up a tree and scuttles from branch to branch across the intertwining limbs at the top ending up several trees away. Meanwhile, Sydney has only seen it go up the tree and, being an intelligent dog, knows that what goes up must come down. She sits down patiently to wait. Sometimes she waits for so long that I finally realize what she's doing and call her away.

Then I have to tell her, “Sydney, you're right. What goes up must come down . . . only not necessarily in the same place.”

Cartoons and text originally published in
The International Parti Poodle Gazette
April 2007