The Chipmunk and the Ponytail

My wife is special. Yes, you would say; anyone who could live with me would have to be special. No, more than that, much more than that. She retains the youth and vigor of a woman thirty years her junior, yet she is an old soul. She sees the world very different than most, and holds animals to have an equal place on our planet. No, she understands the idea of kill and be killed, but in there is a profound respect for animals.


This story is true. It happened but a few days ago. I do not mention names (ok one dog) as Cheryl felt her dogs might get a bad rap for what they so innocently caused. She is a special lady; I exaggerate nothing.   

Cheryl & ShadowThe Dane and the Rat enjoyed being outside.

She opened the door and, as quick as Batman can slap any sense into Robin, the two are all over the yard, critters scurrying everywhere. Even birds decided to take refuge in some tree. It’s the usual way the dogs greet the day. Perhaps it was preordained that this one day would go somewhat different.

The Dane’s tail was high, curled over his back; he bounced along the ground from tree to tree, attempting to reach what has gone up the trunks at lightning speed. The Rat Terrier had his front paws on an above-ground root, begging whatever was up there to come down, or maybe telling it to stay up; she has never discerned the true objective of their exercise, and doubted the dogs had thought the whole thing through.

Both dogs had a deep pleasure in leaving the house with the exuberance to awake a deaf frog sitting fifteen miles away next to a cascading waterfall. Most animals probably laughed at their feeble attempt to surprise them.

The game appeared not to involve catching anything. The dogs were well fed, and liked special food. One might say they were spoiled. So, the idea might be to make everyone climb a tree, and then have them stay up there until the two have finished looking around and marking everything for the umpteenth time. After all, it was their property.

This morning the garden was more alive than usual. There were robins, bluebirds, and an assortment of other winged creatures pecking on what they could find in the grass, while a few preferred what they found on the bark of the tall pines and oak. She heard a Peliated Woodpecker somewhere close; but he was not going to be part of any dog nonsense.

The beavers were not around, so, the dogs ignored the ponds; the grounds, before The Dane and Rat appeared, contained grey squirrels rushing about, their tails fluttering with every move, and chipmunks bobbing in and out of holes, some in and out of the crevices in the rock wall. They too, had found refuse.

A stump sat about twenty feet east of the deck. The Dane and the Rat had migrated there, and their excited barking told her they had a situation they were not used too. The stump was about two feet off the ground and about three feet in circumference. And there on top was a chipmunk who clearly had ran up the wrong tree.

The Dane grabbed him first. She rushed from the deck screaming for the Dane to let go. The Dane knew to do what he was told, and the chipmunk dropped free. But, before she could say, “Good Dog,” the Rat jumped in and grabbed the little chipmunk. Dear god, no. “O’Reilly, let him go, now.”

The chipmunk dropped free, landing on his back. He lay there on his back, no blood, his little legs poking at the air, totally frozen in fear. “Oh, dear God, let him be ok. She moved in and put her arms in a circle that the dogs would not enter. They still lunged outside, hoping the chipmunk would jump up and move outside the circle she has created. For them the game was still on.

“Get away, both of you.” They would not move against her, but at the same time, they could not back away. It was the first successful hunt of their lives.

No blood, thank God, and all his legs are moving like pistons. She held one arm out to what was now a half circle, and gently touched the chipmunk with her other hand. He flipped over, jumped into her hand, and onto her leg where she had bent down. He sat there, not sure what to do next. She dared not stir. Slow movement, one furtive step at a time. He is perhaps assessing his situation. He migrated to her side and slowly crawled around to her back, and then up. She could feel every small paw as it grabbed the next stitch of clothing. She stayed still as a mother watching a baby sleep. He finally stopped at some place he had discerned to be safe, underneath her ponytail.

What the hell to do now? If he bites me, then I will have to get a rabies shot, if I pull him out my dogs will finish him off. I have to get the dogs inside.

She stood up slowly. She barely felt him behind her neck. He had tucked in. The dogs just stared at her, perhaps wondering where their new found squeeze toy has gone.

“Come on boys, inside.”

They stared at her some more.

“Now, let’s go.” They follow her to the deck and inside the house, the little chipmunk still tucked underneath her hair.

Now, what next? If he jumped out inside the house it might create more problems than it solved. Was he hurt? She had to get back outside. First, put the dogs to the back of the house to prevent their barking.

The stove held a pot with the water now at a boil for her morning eggs. She turned it off; no telling when she would be back in.

Outside again; she needed to find the best way to free her not so wanting to be freed creature. If she tried to pull him from her hair, he might become more frightened, or even bite. The only thing she could think of was to lie down.

She lay down slowly, on her back, on the grass, no barks from her dogs which would surely see her posturing as something they should be worried about. She was happy they could not see. She undid her ponytail and spread her hair out. Don’t touch the little critter; it would frighten him.

No one is ever going to believe this.

 Minutes passed, and she sensed the movement, and then a flurry. He darted under the deck, not a look behind.

Be well, my little friend.