A (Extremely) Non-Scientific Study: Who is Smarter, the Groundhog or the Squirrel?

If there are scientists out there are considering a study to determine which rodent – the squirrel or the groundhog – possesses superior intelligence, I can save them the trouble. While not scientific, I think this experiment is conclusive.

Recently a groundhog dug its way under our front porch and took up residence beneath it. The soil in our neighbourhood is sandy, making it easy work for the rodent to dig in and make itself at home. Ben has done battle with them before and this time was no exception.

He borrowed a “trap and release” cage from a neighbour, filled it with a trail of apples and carrots and placed it near the groundhog’s “front door”, (i.e. the hole he dug beneath our porch). By following the trail, the groundhog would trigger a release to cause the cage door to shut and trap him inside.

DAY 1:
The next day all the treats were gone and the cage empty. Since the lever to shut the cage door had not been triggered, I was sure a squirrel had helped itself to the treats and left without even a thank you.  A groundhog is heavier, I thought, and would surely have triggered the mechanism. Based on this assumption, I awarded one point to the squirrel.

Squirrel-1; Groundhog-0 :  The squirrel managed to get the treats without being trapped.

NOTE: The results of this phase of the study are based on pure speculation since we did not see the squirrel enjoy the carrots and apples and make its escape.

DAYS 2 & 3:
With adjustments made to the trigger-lever and the cage refilled with treats, we entered the next phase of the experiment. For the next two nights, neither rodent made its way into the cage. The wily groundhog, however, dug a new entrance to his home beneath our porch in a spot far from the cage
indicating he knows a trap when he sees one.

Squirrel-1; Groundhog-1

DAY 4:
Success!  From the window of our living room, we saw movement inside the cage and hoped it was our squatter. Our elation quickly dissipated and my earlier assumption was disproved when we saw that a squirrel was in the cage. (So how did a critter manage to get in the cage, eat the treats and get out without being trapped on Day 1?) Ben lifted the cage door and the squirrel quickly left with a full tummy. Preliminary findings seem to indicate that the groundhog has superior intelligence.

Squirrel-1; Groundhog-2

DAY 5:
The results of Day 4 were confirmed when, once again, a squirrel took the bait and found itself trapped in our cage. Still no sign of the groundhog though the holes we fill are dug anew each night, indicating he is still living under our porch.

Squirrel-1; Groundhog-3

This experiment proves that a groundhog’s intelligence is superior to that of a squirrel. Unfortunately, though it may require further study, the results may also indicate that the groundhog’s intelligence is superior to humans.

Finding hope in tragedy

I woke this morning with the Derek Chauvin verdict on my mind, but I was afraid to write this post. I wondered if there was something wrong with me because I felt empathy for him and his family – something he didn’t have for George Floyd. Then I read the post below by blogger Jeff Pearlman and realized I am neither crazy nor alone.  

After reading it, I went to Twitter to check out the #rotinhell hashtag and I was sickened.  I believe that justice was served; I just don’t understand how the vitriol helps. Everything about the situation is tragic and a waste of human lives including, through his own actions, Derek Chauvin’s.

I can only hope that he didn’t get up on May 25th, hitch up his trousers and go to work thinking, “I’m going to kill me a man today.” But he did just that. I saw the video and it’s something I can never unsee.  He had nine minutes to change his mind. He had people urging him to take his knee off of George Floyd’s neck.  But he didn’t.  Those nine minutes took Mr. Floyd’s life and changed the lives of many others forever.

Yesterday’s verdict filled me with a quiet sorrow for many reasons.  But I wish we could all take a page from George Floyd’s little daughter. Instead of spewing hate, she found a small nugget of hope for the future from the tragic death of her father when she said, “Daddy changed the world.”  Yes, he did, little girl. Yes, he did.

So I was scrolling thru Twitter a few minutes ago, fascinated by the reaction to the decision in Minnesota, when I noticed that ROT IN HELL is trending. In case you think I’m making such a thing up … And I get it. I 100% get it. Derek Chauvin snuffed out another man’s life. For…

Rot in hell — Jeff Pearlman

Of unbridled joy and unconditional trust

Photo: Back Forty Germain Short-Haired Pointers website)

I saw the dog before she saw me. Nose to the ground, she was happily sniffing the newly-released scents of spring. When she raised her head and spotted me, she came bounding joyfully over as if I were a long-lost friend instead of someone she had never laid eyes on before.

She stood on her hind legs, front paws batting playfully at me and tail wagging while little squeals of delight came from her throat. She was a pretty thing. Her head was a velvety chocolate-brown, and from the neck down, her coat was spotted like an Appaloosa horse.

I petted her head and murmured, “Down, girl” while scanning the street for her owner.  But no one was on the street or the front yards of the houses. I decided to keep walking, and she shot out ahead of me, a blur of fur, paws and flapping ears.  She darted into a small, wooded lot between two houses and I thought, “Maybe she’s decided to go home.”  

Before rounding the corner, I turned to see her come out of the woods. She stood stock still, looking up and down the street.  When she saw me, she came to me at breakneck speed.  After greeting me enthusiastically (again), she crossed the street just as a car came around the corner. I waved my arms wildly above my head to ask the driver to slow down. He did but looked at me as if to say, “Put your dog on a leash, crazy lady.” 

“She’s not mine,” I wanted to say. But in that moment, I knew this dog was lost and had put her blind trust in me to keep her safe.  This was faith in humans in its purest form and my heart swelled with gratitude. I doubted any person could have such unconditional belief in the goodness of a stranger.

I crouched down and called her over.  When she came and tried to give me big wet kisses I grabbed her collar and held on tight.  I couldn’t get her to stay still enough to read the phone number on her medal so I decided to head home where Ben could help. We started off and she walked willingly beside me.

As we rounded the corner, we met a young woman walking her own dog.  The two animals made half-hearted, obligatory growling sounds as I asked her, “Do you know this dog’s owner?” She didn’t, but she lived a few houses down and offered to bring her own dog home and help me.

She came back with a leash and we did a dance as I held the collar at arm’s length and she tried to clip it on while staying six feet apart (thank you COVID), all with a dog who thought this was a game. Success!  I pulled out my phone and she read the information on the medal to me.  

“Her name is Alycia,” said the woman and then she rattled it off a phone number.

I made the call and within minutes, Alycia’s owner arrived, grateful to bring the dog home to her heartbroken kids. I waved as I watched them drive away and silently thanked Alycia for making my daily walk a lesson in believing in the goodness of people.