Wednesday, May 14, 2008


High: 71° F
Low: 42° F
Conditions: Calm and clear
Maybe the squirrel was trying to steal our butter.
That doesn’t make a lot of sense at first glance, I know, but follow me through the logic and see if we can change your mind.

Around 9:00 this morning, the three quadrupeds in our house sprang into action. That’s not all that uncommon, mind you: on any given day, we regularly cycle through phases of cat-chasing-cat, other cat-chasing-other-cat, dog-chasing-both-cats, and myriad permutations of these basic configurations. We also break for phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) and mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) sightings, the occasional feral cat (Felis catus) crossing our driveway, and (of course) grazing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)in our backyard.

What was unusual about this morning was the choreographed synchronicity of the three quadrupeds. Choreographed anything is a rare event indeed in our house (see above account of animal-chasing-animal for possibly reasons why this is atypical behavior). Even still, Ari and the two cats moved with the precision of a Russian military parade. They poured down the stairs in order of size then leapt upon the couch at nanosecond intervals. Does it matter that one among their rank is not allowed on this piece of furniture? Absolutely not. At least, not in time of crisis. And crisis is indeed what we had on our hands. The three stood at attention, pawing angrily at the window. When that yielded no result, they growled. In unison. Believe you me, this was no amateur show of force.

And what was the cause of their assertive effort? A lone red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), weighing in at approximately ½ a pound (tail included). Admittedly, these bold little rodents are known for being brazen and ill-tempered. But capable of hostile take over? I’m skeptical.

The quadrupeds weren’t. They seethed at the window as the squirrel blithely groomed itself on the hood of our gas grill, then picked its way along the exterior wall of our house, then eventually scurried up and over the roof.

When I left for a morning meeting, Ari and the cats were still vigilent, no doubt prepared for full rodent infiltration.

When I returned, I found this:

A simple empty plate, you say. Yes; that's right. But here’s the rub: this plate was neither empty nor chipped when I left home. Nor was it in the corner of the living room, tucked carefully behind an end table. No, when I departed the plate held at least a 1/3 of a stick of butter. It was also covered. And set on a sugar canister pushed far back in the nethermost region of our kitchen counter. Said kitchen counter measures approximately four feet high. I am inclined to believe teamwork was involved in this relocation project.

But why?

I studied philosophy in college, and I was particularly fond of formal logic. I understand syllogistic reasoning. I know, for instance, that you cannot prove a major premise through its minor corollary. I know that any conclusion must be both logical and sound. It is unlikely, then, that:

M. Rogue squirrel appears on grill and house
m. Butter dish found hidden in living room
.'. Rodent plot to filch butter averted

The unlikelihood of this conclusion is, of course, based on human logic. Caninaturalist logic is another beast entirely—and one, I might add, without a Linnaean or taxonomic identification to help me categorize it.

I asked the animals, but the three accomplices aren’t talking. Neither is the squirrel.


Turbo the Sibe said...

It is never the dog.

It is always the squirrel.

Anonymous said...

That same squirrel was at my house once, and ate an entire stick of butter, paper and all. It had been sitting out to soften for baking.

It was a very loooonnnngggg weekend. Good luck,

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

Woo must listen to Dokhtor Tube Wolf, Eskhw.

Khase Khlosed!


The Army of Four said...

SQUIRREL!!!!!!!! SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!
Tubey's right, you know. HAD to be the squirrel. It's the only logic I see there!
Trust me, I'm a Siberian Husky.
Play bows,

Me & my puppies said...

It does not matter if the DNA samples taken from both the saliva and fur fibers are pointing to the quadrupeds times three. If the plate doesn’t fit, you must acquit.
and I am sure they will even be happy to spend the rest of their lives and money searching for the true criminal.

Dmitri said...

You had me at "Russian military parade"...

From Russia With Love,

Rhea said...

My sweet Annie says the cats did it, but she's biased.

I could picture the entire play-by-play in vivid detail, this story was awesome! Thanks for sharing. I wish I could have seen all three of your animals at the window growling. lol

John Theberge said...

The animals are innocent, the butler did it.

Sandpiper said...

If Bigfoot hadn't been captured in Maine a few years ago, I might suspect him. :-D

sugarcreekstuff said...

You are so damn funny, and so is the comment left from me & my puppies. I'm saying squirrel.

Gus and Louie said...

Oh it had to be the squirrel. Ari would never do something like that or perhaps he was framed by those cats. They can be really sneaky..
You know we never asked what happened to Louie's Mom. We will be sure and as Suzanne the next time we get a chance..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus and Louie

Naturegirl said...

OH OH...who dunnit for sure!! That photo is the cutest one can read their body language..well anyone with a pet! I see this postion with my two felines when the squirrels tease from behind the glass! Great funny post!

Mary said...

Well to me its obvious. Worried about the attack from alien squirrels a cunning plan was greasing the windowsills any invaders would slide around and be of no threat.

Logic from Raffles.

The Daily Echo said...

All I see is circumstantial evidence. All presumed innocent until proven guilty. Oh - and the dog is NEVER guilty....ever.

JB's Big World said...

What a funny post. It is never the cats (hee hee), and it is probably not Ari. That leaves the squirrel!

Kathiesbirds said...

Your sense of humor never ceases to amaze me. I love to read your posts! My little Japanese chin mix, Blossom, is too short to reach a counter and too snobby to ask the cats to join her in any escapades! Yours are obviously in cahoots!

Eve said...

This reminds me of the commercial where the cat dumps the garbage and the poor dog stumbles in just in time to tak the blame!!! Ha Ha...maybe you could re-create the scene and catch it on film!!!
I sure would be fun to know just what went down!

umekotyan said...

Hello Ari.
The item of three combinations is Tom and Jerry whom I recall.
Jerry who steals butter there.
Tom who runs after.
It expresses it to the military parade of Russia wonderful.
The competition with the squirrel on a wonderful weekend. :)

from loved ume tyan

Holly said...

I think it was the cats. They are sneaky and sly afterall. Oh yeah, and evil.


angelfantabulous said...

What a great blog!

I'm bookmarking this site:)

Gunner said...

Of course is was the evil squirrel!
They can not be trusted and are known for pointing blame at any near by, innocent canine!


Anonymous said...

I had heard about the way mice stole egss; one hugs the egg lying on its back and the other would carry the other mouse by pulling on his tail.

There was a book by Aziz Nassin - "Don't underestimate the animal" which had all kinds of amusing and astonishing stories of animal conduct.

I do not know if the book is translated into English. You will not find ethology in it but things to ponder.

Southbay Girl said...

It was the squirrel! It can never be the dog! And the cats always blame the dog so it was the squirrel!!


Steve, Kat, & Wilbur said...

Of course it was the squirrel! They have been taunting us ever since we moved into our house! Now we know they are after the butter!

Steve and Kat