We’re in the midst of a warm snap here in the East Bay (temperatures in the upper 70′s in October!). Yet, the squirrels seem to know the seasons are changing and they’ve been more active lately. I can tell because Bowdu’s been chasing them along the backyard fence more frequently than usual, especially in the mornings. Bowpi, possessing quite a prey drive herself, usually wants to help, which causes Bowdu to turn on her, resulting in a terrible morning ruckus.
It’s incredibly noisy, but it seems to be all bark and no bite. Bowdu turns to snap at Bowpi to tell her to back off and she SCREAMS in response, which makes him bark at her even more, which makes her scream DON’T YELL AT ME! It usually takes one of the humans just a few seconds to go out there and call it off, at which point Bowpi will slink sheepishly back into the house and Bowdu will stand his ground in the backyard and decompress. I think now that Bowdu’s on his thyroid medication, he’s a little more in control so that he’s fairly easy to check by vocal command. Bowpi is left temporarily shaken, but no worse for the wear. If anything, she’s strangely resilient to Bowdu’s tyrannical moodswings, because they’ve kissed and made up by afternoon dog park time, then they’re at it again the next day. She clearly gets the message that Bowdu doesn’t want her help, but she can’t stop herself from wanting to chase the squirrels, too.
I guess this is known as “letting them work it out for themselves,” but some human intervention, or at the very least monitoring, is necessary here, I think. Knowing that squirrels can be such teases, and that Bowdu can be so territorial and reactive, I would never leave them in the backyard completely to themselves. This also seems to happen in the hour between when Bowdu gets his morning dose of Soloxine and before he gets his breakfast, so I wonder if he may be even more on edge.
This morning, Bowdu chased Bowpi up against the neighbor’s fence, where an evil, thorny weed-bush has been known to sprout. Poor ‘Pi stepped on an exposed growth that we had not noticed poking up from beneath the fence. So this morning she came limping back inside with an injured paw. There were drops of blood on the cotton pad I used to wipe and disinfect her wound.
You may have to hover over the picture on the Flickr site to see it, if you can’t tell where she was pricked. Wouldn’t it be something if we ended up with two dogs with infected feet?? I felt awful; we should’ve known those thorns were there. Luckily for Bowpi, she’s quite willing to submit to paw treatments. She had actually torn her paw pad a couple months or so after she joined us. I was inclined to fault her previous owner for seldom having walked her, so that her paws were (and still are!) tender and quite vulnerable to even the most normal of sidewalk hazards (i.e., mere concrete surfaces). At least she allowed herself to be swabbed up and bandaged with no complaint, so she healed super quickly after her first pad injury.
This one will probably smart for a while, but it seems relatively superficial. It stopped bleeding pretty quickly, and she’s no longer raising it up with a pathetic look on her face. We’ll be keeping a close watch. In the meantime, I wonder what we can do about Bowdu’s reactivity in the heat of the hunt…