Chasing squirrels — or How I Learned Persistence from my Dog.


Every day my dog wakes up with a mission: to catch a squirrel.

Day after day, he sits at the back window watching them.  They dart around the yard, up the trunk of the big oak tree, into the treehouse.  They leap from rooftop to treetop to trampoline like little stunt men practicing parkour moves for an action film.  Their newest habit is to jump on – and swing from – the climbing rope in the oak tree.

And all this drives my dog crazy.

"I know you're up there, squirrel. Just wait til next time."

He scratches at the window pane, whimpers at the back door, and begs to be let out.  Because he wants to catch that squirrel.

This drill has gone on for years, ever since the oak tree matured enough to make acorns.  The squirrels, with their sharp senses, are alerted to his presence immediately.  They know just how high to ascend to be out of his reach, and from that height they usually sit and taunt him.

But he chases them anyway.  Every day.

I’ll never know if he doesn’t realize that he can’t outrun a squirrel, or if he’s forgotten that this effort has been a failure every other day he’s tried it.  Or if it matters.

What I do know is that every day he believes that today will be the day.  Every time I open that door he bolts into the yard with a conviction that can only come from knowing his mission will be successful.  Every day.

I want to face my days with conviction like that.  I want to wake up every day thinking – no, believing – that today is the day I’m going to get it all done.

  • Today is the day I’m going to wake up early enough have uniforms laid out and breakfast on the table when the boys come downstairs.
  • Today I’m going to fold all the baskets of laundry in my bedroom.
  • Today I’m going to give my work my undivided attention.
  • Today all the emails will get replies, the pile of papers on the kitchen counter will get sorted, and the bags of old clothes brought to Goodwill.
  • Today I’m going to have a snack and drink in the car when I pick the kids up, and I won’t get on Facebook until all the homework’s done.
  • Today I’ll cook a healthy dinner, and won’t start doing the dishes until everyone’s finished.
  • Today the evening will be pleasant, there will be no yelling about showers, and all school bags will be packed the night before and waiting at that back door.

Unphased after the chase.

And when it doesn’t turn out the way I expect, I want to keep my cool like Perro* does, and wait for the next day, when I get another chance to get it right.  I want to wake up eager to catch that squirrel.

Inspiration is everywhere.  You just have to be open to recognizing it when you see it.

*Yes, my dog’s name is Perro (Spanish for “dog.”  My kids thought that was clever.)

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38 thoughts on “Chasing squirrels — or How I Learned Persistence from my Dog.

  1. andie

    I have a dog that has actually caught a few. They tried to tease her and chatter at her. Forgetting that when they turn to run away their tails are accessible. And well that was that!

    Reply
  2. jackie

    I absolutely love this!! I do wake up everyday thinking I will get everything done, but it just never happens. But, like you said, the next day is a new one and all you can do is try again.

    Reply
    1. Lisha Post author

      Some days it’s easier than others to keep trying. But those squirrels are just so darn motivating!

      Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

      Reply
  3. angela

    Motivation through the dog; I like it. Sometimes the simplest things to do are the ones that can make the most difference. I will try to be a little more like Perro myself 🙂

    Thanks for linking this up for JBE.

    Reply
    1. Lisha Post author

      Perro’s a great motivator! And the good thing (for me) is that he’s always around to serve as a reminder. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  4. Kate F. (@katefineske)

    Our dog did that every day at our old house. Since we built a new house (on farmland with no mature trees) we lack the squirrel to chase. And you know what? Now he chases the birds that fly above 🙂

    What a great analogy for conviction!

    Reply
    1. Lisha Post author

      He’s not burdened with baggage collected along the way, so he makes a fresh start every day. 🙂

      Thanks for visiting! I’ll hop on over to your site, too.

      Reply
  5. May

    Love your observation. Really how much more could we get done if we didn’t get worn down by the enormity (and endless repetition) of our tasks?! Brilliant. Perro is my new hero!

    Reply
    1. Lisha Post author

      The endless repetition is definitely the hardest part for me. Same chores, different day. But I’m holding out hope that one of these days… I’ll get it all done!

      Reply
  6. evolutionarymom

    So, I just read your post to my daughter & then expressed to her how I just don’t believe I can get everything done. Her response? “Mom, I know you won’t believe or do this, but delete your FB. Then you will get things done.” Ah, the wisdom of my 16yr old daughter. She deleted hers a couple of months ago because she wasn’t getting anything done. Yeah, don’t think I’m gonna do that.

    Also, guess what I have. A pet squirrel.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: All aboard to Evenbettersville! « The Monster in Your Closet

  8. theh2obaby

    It’s amazing what we can learn from our animal companions if we just take the time to pay attention to them. The best lesson I’ve learned is that a mistake isn’t the end of the world or even the end of the effort. I was raised believing it was. I love Perro’s dedication to his calling: today I will catch the squirrel. I will think of him when it’s been too many days since I’ve caught the squirrel, and then go after it again, believing Today Is The Day.

    Reply
  9. K

    Hi Lucky Mom! How are you doing? Perro is such a cute dog!!! He deserves
    a treat!!! You have picked a perfect dog to be in your family!!!
    What is B going to be for Halloween?

    Reply
  10. Kay Thornton Swanson

    That day finally came once upon a time for our dearly departed mutt Maggie. She grabbed the squirrel and then looked at my husband from the end of the leash as if to say, “Now what the heck do I do?” He said gruffly, “Drop it!” and she did. That squirrel chirped his thanks from farther up the tree trunk and never let Maggie get that close again. Amazing what you can accomplish with a little belief, huh?

    Reply
    1. Heather Holbrook

      Ditto! I can’t wait to chase some squirrels tomorrow – thanks so much for the much needed pep talk!

      Reply
  11. Eugenia

    Our squirrels persistence paid off of us feeding them peanuts. They now have us trained to get them to the back door and taking the peanut from our hand. We worked together and now they have a endless supply of peanuts and we have endless smiles on our face when they come to the door.

    Reply
    1. Lisha Post author

      Ours are quite entertaining. Watching them swing from the rope swing is a hoot. One day I’ll try to grab some video, when the construction noise isn’t too loud. 🙂

      Reply

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