I love squirrels and anyone that knows me knows this fact. I have squirrel ornaments in every size, style and fashion adorning both the inside and outside of my house. I even have a loyal following of the real, live thing meandering throughout my yard. Some days I might have six and then the next all their cousin for Arkansas arrive and the feeding area will encompass 20. They all know me and know I'm good for food and peanuts.
I also love dogs. Presently three reside within my three bedroom ranch style house. One is the cave master....a pitbull who is the sissiest dog you've ever met. He'd kill you with kisses before he'd attack. His bark sounds bad but he'd much rather curl up in your lap and go to sleep. I also have two labs. The male is a great dog and could care less about the outdoor critters. The female needs to be on ritalyn and has approximately four rat kills under her belt. Both would never touch a squirrel. They know they are something of a pet to me.
Now the cave master....well he's addicted to the damn squirrels. I think they look like they're having so much fun he wants to play along with them. He's obsessed! Everyday all the squirrels line up at my backdoor for peanuts. There might be 10 different ones who come back four or five times for the hand outs. They climb on the screen and look at the cavemaster just inches from his face. He just watches in fascination, anticipating their arrival everyday.
One squirrel started showing up a couple of weeks ago with this big black ping pong ball sized lump next to her eye. She seemed ok, taking peanuts, but the black lump kept growing, starting to overtake her eye. Sunday she seemed a bit weak when she showed up for the peanut and the lump was huge. I had named her Popeye. Sick but that's the way I am.
Yesterday the cave master is let outside to go to their pen but he sees a squirrel and runs towards the side of the house into the flowerbed. I have some flower pots stacked up there and I see he's not attacking anything but has something cornered. I'm thinking it's a baby rabbit or squirrel...something that can't run fast enough. I call him off and I walk over to what he was looking at. Well, it was Popeye and she was on her last leg. Her eye was now totally taken over by the big black blob as was almost the whole side of her head. She stood up and stretched her arms out at me and then sat down and had a heart attack and died.
It was a weird experience and the little arm stretching thing I could have done without. I mean I didn't need all the drama from the dying squirrel. I figured when the cave master had cornered her she was so weak she just had a heart attack from fear. Hell, she didn't know he just wanted to be up close and personal. She was infested with fibromatosis virus. I thought it was a parasite but its not. Warbles are something else. This is a pox disease that infects many mammals, including us. Like the small pox or chicken. The dog earned a kill due to giving the poor thing a heart attack. No, I'm not for my dogs killing other animals. The female lab just can't help herself if a rat gets into the dog pen. Squirrels drink from their pool all of the time and they all just look at them.
She had an informal funeral by being placed inside of a plastic Winn Dixie bag and placed inside of the trash can in garage. She'll end up at the city landfill tomorrow. Another squirrel was walking by moments after she died and he looked over at her and made sure he walked a good distance around her. It was like he was even saying, "ick, she looks really bad and I wouldn't touch her with a stick".
Anyone interested in the virus, click on the link from the University of Florida by clicking on the title. Pretty interesting stuff, at least to a weird person like me.