How To Get a Squirrel to Growl (and How This Helps Your Web Presence)

by Tricia

in Social Media Strategy Wednesday

Source: via Eva on Pinterest


My husband and I are having some issues with feral cats in the neighborhood. There are about eight of these cats and they are mean, partially blind, predatory, and scare away our wildlife, aka birds and squirrels and even the resident raccoon family that lives in our back 40 (not acres, but feet). We have space to park another vehicle out behind our backyard and the coons live out there quite happily. We don’t mind them either, but there are backyard wars that have now gone on all winter.

We’re done putting up with it.

The idea was to trap the cats humanely (and if the coons got inside, well, we weren’t sure what we would do it that happened; we kind of like our raccoon family) and get the cats out of the neighborhood. This plan was to save our birds and squirrels as well.

Only, once again human intervention into even a backyard ecosystem didn’t quite work how we thought it would.

The trap sat in our living room for a few days as my husband wondered if we really wanted to do this. A trap just seems ominous, dangerous, something from a horror movie, and we weren’t sure we wanted to be THOSE people.

But we put the trap out, stuck some food inside as bait and nothing happened for three days. We thought about giving up, figured these cats and coons were smarter than we took them for. After those three days, I actually forgot about the trap. I just got used to it sitting in the backyard, glinting in the May sunshine; it didn’t even register in my brain by Saturday.

But Saturday, the equilibrium of our backyard finally upset. We got home from running errands and my husband looked out to see an animal inside, trapped. It was a squirrel.

Not what we were hoping to catch.

And it was our favorite squirrel, Nutley Bilger, who I named thus because he’s nutty and has a personality and is the squirrel who sits in the tree throwing down seeds from the bird feeders to his fatter companion, Sammi, who just sits on his haunches below and opens his mouth wide.

My husband got on gloves and fetched a blanket to throw over the cage. We walked closer and Nutley didn’t even see us. He was on his back, trying to wriggle through a crack at the bottom of the cage. My husband threw the blanket on the cage and then opened the door.

Nutley didn’t come out. Instead, he growled at us.

Have you ever had a squirrel growl at you?

It’s similar to writing a book or a blog post and instead of people raving about it, they attack. They go into crisis mode. You know how this feels. Your best plans and then it goes slightly awry and you get blamed.

1. If you write, you will get hurt, you will be vulnerable, you will wonder why you ever started this project in the first place. This is normal. We set a trap to help the squirrel and instead, the squirrel got inside and then got mad at us for invading his space, for pointing him in a direction he didn’t want to go, for messing up his easy-breezy life. As writers, we may bear the brunt of our readers’ wrath. We may stir up for them something true and they are just not interested in hearing it.

2. Your expected results (from your blog or book) may vary. Things don’t go as planned. The book you thought would be heralded as a self-help is used as a manual to destruct something. A person might read your words and not get the expected results. It’s out of your control. We have to expect this.

3. People—readers—won’t act how you imagine they will. Your words resonate with you in a certain way, but don’t expect everyone to resonate the same. Don’t limit your audience. They may get much more from what you wrote than you imagined.

How does this fit with Nutley, the squirrel?

Well, he was irritated with us for a few days, but yesterday, out of the blue, we caught a cat. One of the big bullies, one who has some battle scars on his body from his endless war on the raccoons and other cats. He attacked my husband from the cage as we were feeding him.

The squirrel sat on a nearby stump, closer than he’s ever been, staring at this interaction. As I went back inside the house, the squirrel started jumping around on the stump, jubilant, delirious with joy. He got it. He understood why we had the trap there.

It was for him all along. But he didn’t know that until the test was over, until we actually caught what we were trying to catch.

Remember your audience doesn’t know your motives, they’re just trying to understand, so write for them. Write so that they can be jubilant and they can understand. And don’t ever stop helping them, even if they growl and refuse the help.

Wait until they dance. Give them a solution.


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