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  • Writer's pictureAnne Heffron


Updated: Jun 20

The mother woodchuck started lumbering around the yard when the dandelions bloomed. She methodically ate the flowers like a happy furry vacuum cleaner with whiskers. The yard is pretty big, and so was she. It was a good match: countless dandelions and one hungry beast. I didn't call her the mother back then. I called her the woodchuck.

When the dandelions went to seed and the mother methodically ate all those unblown wishes, I still called her the woodchuck.

Woodchuck became the mother when the baby appeared not that long ago, and that ball of adorable aggression has ruined my summer. (Sound of a baby crying--me.) The first time Bird had an encounter with the mother, all I saw was him disappearing over the crest of a hill. I heard a shocked yelp, and Bird ran back into sight, panting but still whole.

I was grateful. Woodchucks don't get their name for their gummy smiles. "Don't chase her again, okay?" I asked. I'm one of those permissive dog owners who thinks if the dog doesn't agree to heeling, it must not be a good idea, but I think he heard me, at least for a while. When the mother was out on the edges of the lawn doing her thing, Bird would sit, alert, ears high, watching.

After a week or so, he decided to try his old tactic which was to go after her as soon as she came into view. She would do this flying carpet thing and always get under the shed or deep into the undergrowth before he reached her.

The situation with the baby is different. This is the Mike Tyson of woodchucks except he, the woodchuck, is probably a little smaller then one of Mike Tyson's fists. But Baby and Mike have the same spunk. The same something.

I took a video of Baby staring us down as I held a squirming Bird after he and Baby had had a tight circling barking hissing standoff. When I showed the video to a therapist friend, she said, "What's wrong with that baby woodchuck? Is it brain damaged? Why didn't it run?"

I don't know. Every time Bird finds Baby, they circle and make lots of noise like they both mean to go for the jugular if they knew what it was. Every time I pull Bird away, Baby stands there and stares at us, pissed. Incredulous. This is my goddamn planet, it looks like it is thinking. Get the hell away from me. What is wrong with you?

I can't hang out on the hammock with Bird loose to enjoy his dogginess on the lawn because who knows when Baby might emerge. This may seem like a small thing to you, but it's like telling you to have a nice night but taking away your bed. You can tell me to have a good day, but if there's no hammock involved, I don't know how I am supposed to get to the good part.


I did google how to remove woodchucks, but I'm not going there. It's a mother and child. If you think I am going to harm them in any way, you're nuts.

I'm spending the summer in Camp Suck it Up.

Here's to family.

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