Today is National Squirrel Appreciation Day. For those of with dogs with like to call this National Dog Nemesis Day. My dog loves to walk and run and get all worked up about something he will never, ever achieve. We have large windows in our house and Coconut will stand guard at that window getting all worked up for no reason that I can see except for the fact that a squirrel ran by. He HAS to get that squirrel. NOW.
 
It’s important to remember that your dog, no matter how cute and sweet and tiny and cuddly, is descended from wolves. As such, he is a hunter. Nature has equipped dogs with a strong sense of smell and a desire to chase smaller creatures. This is simply the way his brain is wired. Some breeds have been bred to track for hunting and fishing and they are even more driven by smell. A dog’s sense of smell is between 1000 and 10,000 more keen than ours. Their brains are wired to respond to an animal running away with a chase reaction. Add to that some breeds are bred to track and flush out game so they are driven by the scent of the animal they are pursuing. When your dog gets into this instinctive mode, it is difficult to change his mind without some prior intervention and coping skills.
 
Add to their instinctive behavior the fact that squirrels love taunting dogs! When we go around our neighborhood all is well, until he sees the dreaded squirrel. Outside he stands guard looking for squirrels not only in our yard but in a few of the neighboring yards he can see. Most days a squirrel will see Coconut coming towards him and quickly run up a tree. Smart behavior. He knows my dog has lots of teeth that would tear him to shreds. But as we walk away in defeat, I’ve turned back and seen that squirrel turn around to watch Coconut, scamper down the tree, and inch closer to us shaking his tail and making noises. And of course, Coconut knows he has one more chance and he’s eager to go get that darned squirrel.
 
Dogs and squirrels mostly play together. They tease and chase after each other because it’s fun. At the dog park or another open area, all bets are off for that poor squirrel.
 
So why do we appreciate squirrels? We didn’t have squirrels in Hawaii so I’m still enjoying them darting around, especially the solid black ones I had never seen. They are good for the ecosystem. But as a dog owner, I’m loving these squirrels.
 
Squirrels bring out my dog’s happy side. Not only is running a good exercise for him but pursuing a squirrel provides a goal for him. Getting outside and bonding with my dog are all reasons to love squirrels.
 
We still have so many dogs available who love squirrels and will really love you. You simply need to come by and let one of these special pups meet and choose you. For those of you with a dog, even though it’s ridiculously cold, get outside and chase a squirrel.