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Doctor Doolittle of Ralph's...

Pet Peeves columnist, Don Helverson, is talking pets with a clerk, when he learns the guy is the Dr. Doolittle of Ralph's.

I was in line at Ralph's. I love Ralph's at night, adult video actors and actresses, rock and hip-hop musicians, wanna-be-everythings, grandas, grandmas, wild-eyed teens on a spree all lining up for self-service or wait-and-wait service lines which stretch like a best-seller movie at 11:00 at night. 

It was finally my turn, and Charles, the cashier attending to my nearly infinite line segment, spontaneously opened up a conversation with me about pets. Was I wearing a button? A hat? Covered in fur? Sporting one of my dog adoption shirts? Wha-wha-what? 

Anyway, he starts sharing with me that he and his wife go to Taco Bell. His wife started it, and he's followed through: feeding the squirrels. The squirrels liked the Taco Bell items very much. Eventually, whenever he and his wife arrived at the picnic area, the squirrels would come out, climb down, and join them at the table, like people sharing a meal together. 

I have lots of caveats about this, by the way. Taming squirrels with food is not the best thing, really, because they stop looking for nuts and, in stead, relying on the nuts who will share their meals with a rodent. It can make them too docile, softening caution which is badly needed when fast dogs and cats approach.

They can mistake our animals as part of a friendly feeding pack, which happened to chipmunks my Dad tamed this way in Maine. Cats grabbed them and toyed with them under a house, where we couldn't save them. They came out dead and mangled like victims of the Inquisition. 

Anyway, Charles shared about his domesticating the squirrels of Taco Bell, and then having similar impact on other animals, all normal-sounding with the exception of a DOVE THAT FOLLOWS HIM EVERYWHERE! 

Cool. I should have re-shot the video and not caught CHarles stumbling to re-tell his story (after just having told it beautifully before the line grew all the way to the fish section again). Even rushed and stammering to repeat himself, it's fun to see his phone pic of the dove who follows him around town.

Anyway, meet Charles, the Dr. Doolittle of Ralph's. He's a very helpful guy, by the way. And there is a menagerie of untamed creatures he exercises magic on all night long.

(How do doves get along with squirrels, by the way? That seems like a problematic symbiosis. Could be nuts.)

(Pardon the spelling error in the video, but I'd never had to spell Doolittle before.)

Heidi Birker February 07, 2012 at 04:25 PM
That "dove" looks more like a pigeon, Don. Cute story, though!
John February 07, 2012 at 06:27 PM
It's crazy that he works in a grocery store full of nutritious foods and he chooses to eat "food" that should be illegal to feed humans. Taco Bell's meat filling has over 26 ingredients and cannot legally call it beef because the USDA won't allow them to. Don't forget that the USDA is so slack on what actually is food (Fruit Loops are healthy according to them) you had better listen when they don't allow TB to call their "taco filling" beef. Maybe you could inform him that TB is only suitable for rodents and pigeons, not humans.
Linda Rubin February 08, 2012 at 12:19 AM
My dad used to love feeding squirrels in our park-like housing project in Brooklyn when that was adorable and fun. Last time I was in Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan, another well-treed development, a squirrel came up on me demanding a treat. I thought it was going to climb up my leg. Rats with fluffy tails!

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