A turn of my house’s rusty doorknob awakens her when the door begins to swing open. Ears spring upward, haunches prime and muscles toughen when the door makes its sound.
In nanoseconds, she charges headfirst into the wooden hallway and identifies the intruder. Recognizing a friendly scent, the beast transforms from the guardian of the Zepeda household to my 20-pound miniature schnauzer named Zoe.
Her day consists of strict physical and psychological preparation. Waking from a deep slumber on her worn leather throne, Zoe begins a sweep of the perimeter. Checking every window, she scans the horizon for any sight of the dreaded ground squirrel.
With their ruthless tails of bushy bitterness, ground squirrels prove a worthy adversary for Zoe and represent a significant danger to the border defense. According to her, the only good squirrel is a scared one.
In the event of a squirrel sighting, she initializes her death glare. Known to have an effective range of 50 meters, it petrifies any forest fiend caught in her sights.
For the next stage of her plan, Zoe alerts the household to the conniving and furry trespasser by barking at the top of her small – yet deceivingly powerful – lungs. Either due to her shrill cries or mammoth presence, most squirrels dash away for the sake of self-preservation.
Besides warding off those nut-craving scoundrels, Zoe replenishes her strength. Basic rations, those allotted by her human commanders, never suffice.
Kibbles ‘n Bits? Ha! Such trash has no place in her diet. To attain her proper energy levels, Zoe uses coercion on the simple humans.
Through years of observation and training, she has developed a method by which she employs irresistible cuteness to guilt her susceptible superiors into giving her human food.
Even though she may appear invincible, Zoe must still rest at regular intervals throughout the day. On average, she takes five well-deserved power naps to restore her vigor. Do not be fooled into a false sense of security; any slight movement could arouse her razor-sharp senses.
By the end of the day, however, when this banisher of the evil squirrels has declared her duties finished, she turns to her favorite pastime – hanging with her humans.
No matter the amount of time passed, from five minutes to five years, anybody returning home meets an elated and jumpy Zoe able to make a sorrowful day change into a happy one.
I say people should take a second and learn something from their dogs. OK, maybe getting into staring contests with woodland creatures does not seem like the best use of time, but those squirrels do have it coming. Nevertheless, if everybody took a little time out of their day to eat, sleep and show a little love for each other, the world might become a better place.
• Kurt Zepeda is a St. Charles resident and a senior at Marmion Academy in Aurora. He enjoys running, writing and the occasional confection. His column runs every other Thursday in the Kane County Chronicle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.