Allow me to introduce you to Boomer, a snuggly, three-year-old mix of Golden retriever and standard poodle. This sweetheart is 97 pounds of fluffy, loving, wheat-colored exuberance. He is great with kids. He is fully housebroken. My only complaint is related to squirrels.
This guy loves to chase squirrels! He will just about pull your arm off chasing after them.
Lately I have experimented with minor, municipal-code civil disobedience. I have been letting him off leash so he can chase these taunting, puffy-tailed rodents.
For the most part, the experiment is working out well. You should see this big oversized cotton-ball careening joyously down the avenue. He is the Platonic ideal of Goldendoodle, chasing twitchy, agitated squirrels all through the neighborhood.
We did suffer a setback Thursday when, against all odds, he actually caught one – his first. Initially I was thrilled for him. What speed, what agility. Good boy! The problem was, he caught up with the tiny, terrorized mammal just as the 6-year-old Henderson twins were getting in the car for school. The further problem was that, for all his fluffy exuberance, it turns out Boomer has a good set of teeth on him.
Greta Henderson, whom I had never exchanged more than five words with, and whom I would never have taken for an alarmist per se, was upset about potential effect on the twins of witnessing the squirrel carnage.
I say “potential,” but in fairness to Greta, some negative effects did materialize. According to her, the twins were upset on the way to school, and continued to discuss the incident all weekend. She said the twins now refuse to set foot in the driveway and cannot “sleep through the night.”
On the one hand, I understand her misgivings. My own wife suggested I put the big oatmeal-hued Snuffalufagus on a “motherf—ing leash immediately.”
On the other hand, if you think about it, the cats in our neighborhood regularly kill songbirds, and no one says boo. Beautiful songbirds, too; so tiny, so eloquent (albeit in a shrill, repetitive, obnoxious sort of way.) Next to a yellow-throated thrush, what is one lousy, flea-infested gray squirrel?
The next speed bump was Sunday night, just before dark. The Hendersons were tucked safely away in their olive-colored Craftsman, as were the Pasternaks two doors down. After dimly perceiving the silhouette of a squirrel thirty yards away, I decided, on a whim, to test whether Boomer could see it, too. I have always been curious about his eyesight. At times I wonder whether we are leaving his bangs too long, whether it affects his vision. I worry about this occasionally.
Boomer did not see the squirrel, but do you know what? That furry rascal did me one better! He spied a house cat crouched on a darkened porch 15 yards past the squirrel. Boy was I proud. How he could see that cat was beyond me. More to the point, I guess, was how he could fail to see Muriel Pasternak, who was disembarking from her grandson’s Lexus.
Muriel Pasternak is a remarkable woman. Not in the Forgive One’s Neighbor department, mind you, but definitely in the Life Experience department. I told her grandson, who is a well-known litigator downtown, that Muriel actually shares similarities with my Boomer, if you think about it.
Both weigh about 100 pounds. Both are vibrant, energetic, curious individuals. Both love the outdoors. Both probably have about five years left to live.
Obviously there are differences, too. As the grandson-litigator pointed out, Boomer does not have 16 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. Nor is he a survivor of Nazi forced-labor camps in the 1940s. Nor did he suffer a fractured clavicle and a facial laceration during the tangle at the curb. But if you ask me, this is a glass-half-empty way of looking at things.
Some neighbors submitted a petition today to the Police Department. The petition related to local leash-law enforcement. Okay, more specifically, it related to local leash-law enforcement against me. But you know what? I am not ready to abandon my experiment. It wouldn’t be fair to Boomer, and it wouldn’t be fair to other local Goldendoodles, who are carefully tracking this issue. Plus, it would drastically increase my chances of separating my shoulder next time Boomer explodes after a squirrel.
I will keep you updated on this topic. As a good neighbor, I feel it is my civic duty.