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Winter 2012

Bob the Beagle

by Pat Hamit

Must have been the Cookie Monster
It is always a treat when the oldest granddaughter spends the weekend at our house. The visits are made even more special when she decides to bake cookies. Few things help make a house a home more than the smell of baking cookies or pies. Bob and I are always up for anything baked and while the aroma emanating from the kitchen is nice, we are much more interested in the finished product. Fresh baked cookies, he and I can eat them as fast as they come out of the oven. Which always raises the question, "What happened to all those cookies?" Gee, I wonder! Can we get back to you on that?

It was late on Saturday afternoon when the granddaughter, known to Bob as "That Girl," decided it was time to bake the cookies. Her process was interrupted shortly after laying the package of cookie dough on the stove. The Pack Leader, also known as Grandma, needed to run an errand and That Girl decides to tag along. I've been working in the backyard so the Bobster was left home alone.

To answer your question in case you are getting ahead of the story, you are right. The girls, the Pack Leader and That Girl, returned to the house to discover an empty cookie dough wrapper lying on the kitchen floor. The cookie dough, of course, is missing. All of the cookie dough, not just some of it, the entire package has disappeared.

Both the Pack Leader and That Girl were extremely proud of their detective abilities when they found a cookie dough paw print on the carpet next to the empty wrapper. In Bobby's defense and before they could get carried away with their CSI skills, I reminded them that their evidence was purely circumstantial and non-conclusive. Having said that and being somewhat taken with myself, I'm reasonably certain my case will be without merit in the court of public opinion which is currently in session in the kitchen. All of this occurred before Bob returned to the scene of the crime.

Beagle Boy looks like an over inflated balloon with four legs and a tail. He is bloated beyond belief. His defense case has just taken a setback. If we could curl his tail he would look like a little pig with a beagle head stuck between his shoulders and just to complicate the defense, That Girl is sure she can smell cookie dough on his breath. Certain that Beagle Boy is the culprit, she claims that, "If you are looking for the Cookie Monster he is standing right here!"

It's not looking good for Mr. Bob, but I'm not deterred. Since he deserves a vigorous and passionate defense, out of desperation, I ask the kangaroo court being held in our kitchen, "Do you have any DNA linking the dog to the missing cookie dough? I don't think so! If you know what I mean?" They deem that line of questioning irrelevant and a guilty verdict is handed down with swift punishment to follow. The Pack Leader, now playing the role of a hanging judge, pronounces that there will be no dinner tonight for poor ol' Bobby. At the time she had no idea just how wise she was in her pronouncement.

It is the weekend we change the clocks back and we are looking forward to the luxury an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning. Sounds of Bob in distress wake me up about the time of the official clock change should occur. I'm out of bed and wide awake when it comes to things like this. The Bobster is at the garage door and making it abundantly clear that he needs out NOW. Wanting to keep an eye on him, I go out with him only to witness him literally toss his cookies. Copious amounts of cookie dough are being regurgitated. I'm standing in the backyard at 2:00 in the chilly morning witnessing this disgusting display and thinking that the poor ol' hound dog is guilty as charged and now his accusers have their DNA. My career as a canine defense counsel has come to a short and lackluster conclusion.

Bob's Arc Nemesis – the Squirrel
With the installation of a birdfeeder Bob's backyard has been transformed into a miniature nature preserve that has been a source of on-going amusement and entertainment. The most honored dinner guests are the Cardinals with their deep rich color and beautiful songs, but, of course, the Blue Jay's color is just as impressive as his bad-boy attitude. The Robins are more interested in eating worms than millet or black sunflower seeds. It is fun to watch them listen and then pluck a worm from the ground and this happening in the blink of an eye. So, has the birdfeeder turned the backyard into a place of peace and harmony? No!
The birdfeeder is the squirrel proof type and it has caused a great deal of conflict and drama among our wild kingdom friends that visit our yard in search of a free meal. We keep a pair of binoculars on top of the refrigerator so that we can observe the action up close and personal.

He, the squirrel, is the one of the central figures in the backyard drama. Most people believe that squirrels are cute little industrious creatures whose existence centers upon hoarding food for winter. Be that as it may, they're ornery, conniving and somewhat mean little devils too. The squirrel delights in teasing and tormenting Bob. Then the little rodent adds insult to injury by making that squirrel noise which roughly translated means "nah, nah, neeh nah nah," in squireleze. Bobby, being pretty quick on the up-take, knows when he is being taunted. The interaction between these two critters has a tendency to remind me of high school. If Beagle Boy ever tags the mischievous little sprite he'll wish he'd kept his "nah, nah" to himself.

The squirrel was on the birdfeeder the instant he discovered it only to learn that his weight made the spring loaded sides close over the feeding ports. Being this close to the prize but unable to reap his reward did not make this little beggar happy at all. However, if you think the squirrel was defeated, you would be mistaken.

The problem solving skills of what is often referred to as "dumb animals" is always a source of amazement. The squirrel knows he won't be eating from the feeder in the conventional manner but that doesn't mean he'll be going away hungry since our feathered friends feasting at the feeder are less than tidy. At feeding time an abundance of bird seed is dropped on the ground. It actually looks like it is raining birdseed. Being the determined little varmint, he, the squirrel, discovers that by standing under the feeder the food he wants will be delivered via airmail and life is good – for him.

Mr. Squirrel's problem solving skills have unintended consequences. His presence under the feeder has displaced the birds on the lower end of the pecking order that normally feed there. And, as a dinner companion, he seems to be annoying to some of the more aggressive birds not looking to share their meal with vermin such as a squirrel.

At home during the noon hour, I normally eat my lunch standing over the kitchen sink out of habit, a bad habit according to Bob's Pack Leader, my wife. Eating a bologna sandwich and watching reruns of American Pickers, does it get any better than this? Looking out the window over the sink, I notice there is something weird in the yard under the bird feeder. From this distance it looks like a piece of trash, but why are the Kingbirds dive-bombing garbage? Trying to keep the mayonnaise from smearing the binoculars while focusing on the mystery blob in the backyard, I discover the return of THE SQUIRREL.

That explains why the Kingbirds have their tail feathers in such a bunch. He's back and he's under attack! As a defensive mechanism, the squirrel has his tail folded up over his back and is covering his head. The tail is bristled up making it difficult to recognize it for what it is. Mr. Squirrel is completely ignoring the angry Kingbirds as he continues his snack unperturbed and undisturbed from under his tail. In order to access his situation, from time to time the squirrel will lift the tip of his tail to look up or to look out, but it is a fleeting glance as he continues to ignore the dive-bombing birds as he eats his fill.

Cats may not fear a Kingbird but they have a certain amount of respect for the tenacious little birds. The squirrel is completely ignoring them as he continues to gorge himself on grub tossed overboard by the other birds. I thought the first impact was an accident and it happened so fast that I'm not sure I saw I thought I saw. Mr. Squirrel went rolling but he was quick to recover and resume his feeding frenzy from the cover of his fuzzy tail. How could that little bird, a yellow breasted piece of fluff actually roll that squirrel? Staring out the window, slack jawed, with that question in mind, it happened again.

ZOOOM! WHACK! And the red haired rodent went rolling again. The Kingbird gang was attacking again. This time the dive-bombing birds were making full body contact, but the squirrel is not deterred and still eating.

As fascinating as this had become, lunch hour was coming to a close. It was time for the Bobmiester to earn his keep. It only takes a single "get 'em Bob" and he is ready to roll. Bobby thinks he is such hot stuff whenever he can disburse the birds and scatter the squirrels. He has a tendency to strut around after he sends the freeloaders packing and peace and harmony is once again restores to HIS backyard.

I'll have to remember to reward the Bobster with a cookie, huh?

While observing: 1.) The squirrel's problem solving skills and determination, 2.) The birds' pecking order in regards to social status and 3.) Bob's willingness to scatter the trespassing critters is little wonder why we assign human characteristics to our animal friends after all, in some ways, we act a lot like them.


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