I came home from work yesterday to what I thought was going to be a normal evening at home. I was greeted at the door by my two dogs, and then immediately went down to the basement to let them out back to do their business. I came back upstairs and put food and water in their bowls, as I normally do. This was where the normal after work routine ended. My dogs usually stare at me and salivate as I'm pouring their food and telling them to wait until I'm ready for them to eat. However, they were no where near me or their food dishes.
I went into my dining room to find the dogs going nuts and trying to get under my sideboard. This is when I finally looked around my living and dining room area to see that everything looked out of place - my dog's bed was on the other side of the room, all of the couch cushions were knocked over, random items were on the floor that were on our coffee table, and a bunch of boxes and bags from our wedding that have been sitting on the floor next to our sideboard were pushed across the room and/or torn up. The first thought that crossed my mind was that I was robbed. The second was that something or someone was in the house. So I did what any normal twenty-something who was home alone with her two dogs would do - I went next door and asked my neighbor to come search the house with me.
We entered the house to find the dogs going absolutely crazy by the sideboard. We concluded that there must be an animal under or behind it. My neighbor started moving things out from under the piece of furniture, yet there was nothing there. We then took a flashlight and shined it underneath, but still nothing. I then turned on the flashlight on my cell phone and shined it behind the sideboard only to see the outline of what I considered a giant animal. Of course I immediately freaked out and started to back away when the first thought that crossed my mind was that it was a huge rat. It was a good thing that my neighbor was a lot braver than I was because she shined her light and took a closer look as I was now standing across the room. She discovered that it was a squirrel that was trapped and shaking with terror.
It all made sense now! The squirrel came in through the chimney (the flue was open), only to be startled by the dogs. It then ran under one couch and across the room to the other, where it finally ran across the dining room and under/behind the sideboard where it was now trapped. At least that's what the path of destruction indicated to us.
I immediately took the dogs upstairs and put them outside on the balcony off our master bedroom. When I came back down to the dining room, my neighbor had already disappeared into the garage and was looking for items to build a path from the sideboard to the door across the room that led to our back deck. She found a box that once held the light fixture for our dining room and a broom. She then moved another box and a cooler along the path so that the furry rodent couldn't escape under the couch. Lastly, I was instructed to hold a towel from the end of the couch to the door frame, so that the animal knew the way out.
While my neighbor did all of the dirty work, I have to tell you that I was absolutely terrified that the squirrel was going to get misguided and end up jumping onto me from under the towel. Yes, I'm a wimp!
So it was go time... My neighbor asked if I was ready, which of course I replied with a whiny, "noooo!" She replied with, "well too bad, we are doing this." So on the count of three she slid the sideboard away from the wall. What happened next freaked me out even more. The stupid critter was trying to climb back up off the floor and all we could hear was the sound of its claws against my sideboard. So gross!
My neighbor then moved the other side of the sideboard out and gave some extra encouragement with the broom. I can't tell you how fast the squirrel then bolted from the sideboard and across the dining room, straight out the door. All I saw was a blurry ball of brown fur. Success! We spent a few minutes laughing while I tried to hold in the tears, then followed up with a hug for our great effort of neighborly teamwork. SHE IS A SAINT!
Of course my husband called about 30 seconds after the squirrel exited our house... I gave my hero (otherwise known as my neighbor) a gourmet cookie as a thank you (I probably should have offered her hard liquor, but the thought didn't cross my mind until later in the evening) and we said our goodbyes. I then let the dogs back into the house and watched them search the dining room for about 10 minutes for the squirrel. The only perk to all of this was that my dogs wore themselves out and passed out for the next hour or so.
New lesson of home ownership: invest in a chimney screen to keep future wildlife out of the house.