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  • Writer's pictureWILLIAM HAZEL

A Dog and A Squirrel

Updated: Jun 15

With a hind muscle leap from the loveseat the chase was on. Two romps across the area rug and then the clapper claw of scrambling paws over tile. There would be a stomp if you were late to the back door, the space already given for inner swing. With the outer swing of the storm came the first growl, the three down steps skipped with a broad jump onto the grass as the growl became a bark, the full of his body committed to speed.


Sparky, he’s the dog, would chase Rocky, he’s the squirrel, from the window to the backyard, to the west side fence with the same exuberance each time. For years.


Rocky was a creature of routine, appearing on an early Saturday morning. The fence top south to north along the western side of the yard was his avenue for goad. It wasn’t unusual for Sparky to wait. His 40 pounds of mutt mixed Schipperke didn’t quite fit across the thin back edge of ratan decorating beneath the double window view. Still, he braced with front paws high, sitting upright in a regal stillness. Eyes keen to the south fence corner.


Rocky, the master of timing and teasing, would mix his entrances. Appearing in clear view at the corner or lurking behind with a sudden quick climb to the top surprise. Sparky attempted silence though was prone to abandon stealth with low throated bass noted grrrrrrrrrs. As the chase was established through the first months, Rocky would often hold pose on the rail, looking into the window to share a moment of gaze with his pursuer. Sparky reciprocated, holding a mutual stare until Rocky, always Rocky, motioned go.

The backyard is fenced, hence the rush to the rear as Rocky made his way past the gate into the dog’s leash-less domain. As the back door is built on the east side, Sparky had to haul down the short strip of yard, then make the hard house corner turn to bring Rocky into view. Even in the greatest of his zoomie moments, we never saw Sparky run faster than when he was chasing his companion.  


With full bark, a deep, sounds like a hundred-pound Shepherd bark, he went for the capture. Often with a hind leg stand, front paws whacking the pine. Rocky always seemed without fear, his slender grey-brown and white bellied body moving with an easy rhythm towards the corner protected by the shed. His claws stretched in backward ankle perfection that spilled along the edges of the narrow wood top. No matter if Sparky was early, late, or in perfect time, Rocky would move with the same ease until out of view, down climbing clear onto the grasses.

And so, the relationship continued. A relationship of animals. Of understanding. An important note is the chase was only based south to north. If Rocky was moving along the fence to the front of the house, Sparky would short bark once or twice or thrice, but never begin the chase. The front door was to the street and needed a leash. Sparky knew this. Rocky did, too. Animals know things.


Sparky failed, as most dogs do, slowly, then fast. In his last days when he couldn’t raise his weight, his eyes became that little bit sad.


Rocky came that first Saturday after. And Sunday, again. Waiting.


He continued to appear over the next few weeks. On a bed stayed Saturday, relaxing with our coffee and books, Rocky stopped outside the open bedroom window. Looking inside with a depth to the earth brown of his eyes. I spoke to him softly through the screen. He held still ‘till sitting a tad upright in his thoughtful squirrel way.


He'd say hello once in a while the rest of that year and the long year after, but we never saw him crawl the fence top again.

1. Photos by Author. Sparky, the dog. Rocky, the squirrel.

© Copyright William Hazel, 2024


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