A Question of Perspective


      You can’t have it all, right?  Or rather, you can’t have it both ways.  You’re for or against, with us or not - no straddling fences.  And still, there seems no absolute for squirrels.

      Brigh’s first kill was yesterday.  My feelings are mixed.

      Our Lurcher puppy ran from the woods, tossing her head violently, wearing what appeared to be Stalin’s moustache.  I was shocked. 

      “Brigh!”  I hollered.  “Put that down!

      She uncharacteristically did exactly what I said, freezing in place - the grey bundle falling to the ground.  It lay, unmoving in the grass.

      I picked up the dead squirrel; Brigh’s tail lashed merrily, her face spattered in blood.  Katie glanced down at the corpse.

      “It’s just a grey squirrel.”  She said.  “Had it been a red squirrel I would have been upset.”  And then to clarify.  “Had it been a red squirrel I would have been really upset.”

      “So,” I said, taken aback, “an American squirrel has no value?”  I shook the lifeless body for emphasis.  “Kill an American squirrel, fine - but God forbid Brigh injure a precious British squirrel.”

      Katie looked at me without emotion.  “Right.”  She said.

      Admittedly, I was posing for effect.  I have no strong feelings for grey squirrels.  They pilfer bird feeders, claw into your attic; make nests and toilets of your insulation. They’re home wreckers, essentially.  And, yes, I have no great love for them.  That said, I desire none to be shaken to death.

      Living in England, I realise the concerns.  The British countryside is obliterated by them.  They eat all the seeds, nuts and crusty loaves, leaving red squirrels to perish. 

      In London, senior citizens suffer too, as packs of rogue grey squirrels snatch sandwiches, root through handbags and make potty in their cardigans.  Podgy grey squirrels in dark shades and biker jackets, flick cigarette ends at combustible pensioner hair – sending up huge blue flames, licking the city sky. 

      Yet, the North American grey squirrel didn’t choose this life.  He didn’t sneak onto ocean liners, plan attacks on British woodlands and extinction for the indigenous squirrel population.  It’s unfair to blame them.  And yet, sit the enormous grey squirrel with the big paunch beside the tiny fragile red, and you can imagine how one might literally consume the other.  It gives pause.  And heaven help the red squirrel smelling of apples.

      I’m undecided.  There’s allegiance to my fellow ex-pats and concern for animal suffering.  Juxtaposed, is the nature of dogs.  You say, “Relax.  Dog’s hunt.  Grey squirrels are vermin.”  That’s absolutely right.  Then you say, ‘Your dog killed a defenceless woodland creature.”  And that is wrong. 

      No matter the view you can be sure it’s correct and I’ll just as certainly be of the same mind.  You’re angry because my dog killed the grey squirrel, understanding or happy she did.  Either way, you’re right.  And I couldn’t agree with you more.  But Brigh now has a collar with bells enough to make Santa’s sleigh seem muted.