Squirrel Tooth Alice came right in the front door of college rent house, grinning and wiggling, Mike Eddy just behind her at the door. A sleek lab with so much black a dollop of it spilled out onto her tongue in a big black dot, tongue hanging happily out the side of her mouth. I don’t if he said where he’d found her, but you could tell from her wagging and wiggling that she figured finding a house full of 4 young guys seemed like stray dog heaven. I don’t think there was any question she was staying, and I guess we all figured her for a house dog.
Her name came from a Time-Life Books flyer we’d received in the mail that day, something about the Old West. Along the bottom of one of the pages, there were three old photos of ladies of the evening, and Squirrel Tooth Alice was one of them. Within a day or two, we kinda wanted to change her name, but it was too late, as she was already responding to “Squirrel.”
And she had already adopted us.
Knock knock knock.
It sounded serious, so we looked at each other before Mike Bull stood up to answer the door. A woman stood there, and she looked serious. “Do y’all own the big black dog?” She paused and added, “The one that knocks over the trash cans and eats the garbage?”
That would be Squirrel, so he answered, “Uh, yeah,” hesitantly.
“Well, you better tie that dog up or do something to keep it from knocking over our garbage again, or my husband’s gonna shoot it.”
MacNaughton spoke as he rose from the couch, “Yeah, we’ll get her under control. Sorry about that.”
Another pause before she added meaningfully, “Nobody gets my husband mad. He’s a cop.”
When I moved out to the boonies with my brother, naturally Squirrel came along. Romping the countryside and splashing in the little creek by the house suited her fine. Our next door neighbor, Jim, had a Toto-look-alike named Daisy who scaled the 50-foot limestone bluff beyond the creek like it had stairs. It was not unusual to look up see Daisy perched like some mountain goat on an impossibly narrow ledge 20 or 30 feet up.
Country life suited Squirrel well enough she went into heat. With another black lab, a male named Nat Turner, living nearby, we set up some purposeful match-making. That had to include trying to keep other dogs away, and I use the word trying because, of course, we failed. There was one persistent boxer we kept at bay for days and then found him still stuck together post-coitus.
The lab genes won out, though and we were rewarded with a litter o pups that Squirrel started delivering in the middle of the night in the middle of Scott’s bed. See, he was at this point, commuting down to Houston for days at a time to work a blue-collar job to bring in some money.
Anyway, I awaken to the sound of Squirrel giving birth and find her in the middle of the bed, which is already bloodied up the first couple of pups. I sleepiy grinned and joined her as she pushed out another one. Between pups, though, she would stand and circle a bit and then lay back down. By the time the count had reached 5, she’d lay back down on top of one of them whenever she did this. I pushed her off one of the poor little guys and she gave me a look along the lines of “Hey, this is hard enough without you pushing me around—cut it out!”
She kept up a pace of having another puppy about every 20 minutes or so, and I dozed off somewhere after about 6 of them were born. When I awoke, she was finishing out a litter of 11 back puppies — 9 male and 2 female.
That did making the pups away much easier, and in fact, two of them went back to 2 of the Mikes, Squirrel’s original “co-owners.”
I’ll save some other stories about Squirrel and those 2 pups for another time.