Feb 1, 2008

Going Berzerk

By Kristine John
(written originally in August of 2006)

Have you ever heard the Ray Stevens song "The Day the Squirrel Went Berzerk"?

It tells the story of a squirrel getting loose in church and wreaking havoc among the churchgoers. It's very funny. That is, until something like it actually happens to you. I'm not kidding, and I assure you, not one bit of this is made up.

Last Thursday, we had Cub Scout Pack Meeting. My oldest son, Stephen, had earned his Webelos badge and Arrow of Light before he turned 11 mid-month, so we were excited he would be receiving these awards. Pack meeting was to start at 6pm, so it was imperative that we leave home by 5:45pm to get there on time.

All the kids are at the table. Dinner is underway and we are making progress toward our goal of leaving on time. I finish my dinner and walk outside for a minute to turn our internet antenna for better reception. Our cat, Orion, is chasing a small rodent-like creature down the edge of the house. I silently cheer him on and pride myself on having a hunter in the family that rids our home of nasty pests. I know we're on track for the night, so I am feeling confident and unrushed.

I head back inside, and leave the door open momentarily behind me. After a brief minute, I shut the door, and try to verbally hurry the kids along, telling them they still need to find their shoes and get their hair combed.

"Mom," Emily says, "Orion has a tail hanging out of his mouth."

My immediate thought is: "What?!? Orion is inside?"

It only takes about 2 seconds to connect the dots. I know that he has just been chasing a 4 inch rodent outside, and now, he is inside, presumably with WHATEVER that rodent was, IN HIS MOUTH!! He must have caught the creature and slipped inside to share his prize with us before I shut the door. So, bracing myself for a dead offering, I stoop down to see what kind of carcass I needed to clean up. All of a sudden I hear, "HE LET IT GOOOOO!"


"Oh, GROSS!"

"WHAT is it??"

Lo and behold, Orion, brave and mighty cat hunter he is, had grabbed a chipmunk by the tail and brought it into our home, ALIVE.

So at 5:30pm, chaos ensued.
Every child is either chasing me to try and see the chipmunk, screaming or screaming and standing on their chair around the table. I chase this chipmunk from guest room (where part of the tail actually came off), to the piano (underneath it, in fact, so I'm quickly clearing the top of the piano and trying to move it enough so that Orion can recapture his prey), to a corner in the TV room, up underneath the recliner (where he chose to stay for a couple of minutes until I totally tipped over the chair and shook it), to a newly washed pillowcase next to the couch.
It is finally here that this little, bleeding-tailed chipmunk, buries it's head and half of it's body, trying to find security and peace.

While this is all taking place, I'm frantically trying to decide what I can do if I can't get Orion to catch the LOVELY prey he was so anxious to show us. So the following things are racing through my mind: Would it be completely stupid to leave a chipmunk in the house when we weren't home? Where would it hide? (There are lots of places for it to hide for a really long time in my house.) Of course I quickly come to the following conclusion: No way, I can't leave a chipmunk unattended, to have free reign in my house while I am gone. So I decide, I'll just miss Pack Meeting. Immediately I reverse that decision, No, that won't work, Bug is getting his awards.

In the middle of this internal dialoge, I'm YELLING orders to everyone, "Get your shoes on, NOW!"

"There's a tail on the floor?! YUCK! Stephen, get a Wal-Mart bag and pick it up with the plastic, BUT DON'T TOUCH IT!"

"Where's Samuel (the 18 month old)?....Emily, GO BUCKLE HIM IN THE VAN!"

"EVERYBODY!! Get your shoes and GO BUCKLE UP!"

"Stop screaming and chasing the chipmunk, GO TO THE VAN, WE NEED TO GO!!"

Once the kids listened and all went to the van, I was actually able to concentrate on the rodent at hand.

When it finally ran into the wadded up (but clean) pillowcase, I was relieved. It didn't seem to be moving much. Again, my thoughts ran rampant. Maybe I can catch it. Put it in a box or a jar or something. Yes. That is what I will do. Wait, what if it runs away while I am getting a container? What if....I just pick up the pillowcase? That's it! Surely that will work.

So I grabbed two edges of the pillowcase, and walked as quickly as possible to the door. Relieved to be outside, I sent a huge "Thank You, Lord!" heavenward, and started to let the chipmunk go.

Then from the van I heard, "Mom! Can we see it's tail? Where it got bitten off?"


"You caught it! Awesome!"

So after a short show and tell, I let Orion sniff the back of the chipmunk...and the chipmunk literally jumped 18 inches from the pillowcase to the ground a foot away from me and took off, as fast as it could go, Orion on it's heels.

I didn't stay to see the hunt resumed, I just walked to the van, started it up, and drove away, truly thanking the Lord that I have never had to deal with that before, and praying I will never have to deal with it again, either.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, they didn't have Stephen's awards ready. They'll be presenting him with them next month. At another Pack Meeting.

I'll be praying it is a chipmunkless night.


  1. What an adventure, Kristine! I enjoyed the way you told it, too!

    We had an opossum get loose in our Stake building in Mission Viejo, CA once. You know how those silly creatures are supposed to "play dead" when they get frightened..well not that one. He/she ran all over the building...through the wet paint...that's why the doors were open... and trailed little opossum prints everywhere!

    I know your kids will tell your story for years to come!

  2. When Mom and Dad were living in Kennsingtion MD - serving as missionaries in the DC temple they had squirrel visitors on a daily basis. They left peanuts out on their porch and loved to watch them come up and eat them. Dad bought big bags of peanuts to feed the squirrels. One day while they were out they accidently left the sliding door open. One brave squirrel managed to maneuver the screen door aside and went into their apartment, found the closet where the peanuts were kept, and Mom and Dad found a trail of empty shells leading from the closet, with an empty bag, to the porch where he had confiscated them to his own tree. (The branch overhung the porch railing.)
    It didn't dampen their liking to watch the squirrels - but they did remember to always check and make sure the door was closed after that.

  3. I love your posts. It reminds me of me when my children were all young. Remember how precious that time is. My second son is ready to leave on his mission and my baby is nine.

  4. Funny story, well told. I keep wondering where you should submit it.,

    It reminds me of how my husband laughed at me, his fairly new bride, as I screamed and jumped up on a chair because a harmless little garden-variety baby snake, not more than six or eight inches long somehow slithered into my kitchen, It hid in fear under the refrigerator. Yes, I was raised on a farm. Yes, we had a few snakes around. Yes, my mother, and my friend enjoyed picking them up to admire them. Yes, snakes still terrify me. As a child I once jerked, screamed (or at least squealed) and my heart pounded when I simply turned the page of a 'nature' book and an unexpected, full-color picture of a snake confronted me. Yes, I was a wimp. Still am, I guess. Chimpmunks and squirrels are lots cuter. I even think mice are rather nice, but snakes always give me the shivers.

    Thanks for the memories.

  5. I love the song and your story. I'm still laughing. Thanks. I needed that this am as my computer went weird and I had to wait to come to work to read up on the site.

  6. ok Kristine, I am new here and I love your insights. I have written 2 comments and hopefully this one will stick. You always were wonderfully thoughtful and funny. I remember many nights of visiting and learning from and with you in college and university. I have felt recently to "find" people who have influenced me in my life, and I did. I enjoy all of the tender and realistic feelings and expereinces shared here.


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