Monday, 22 October 2007

Peter, a Pet Woodchuck


—A. Hyatt Verrill

From the book "Pets for Pleasure and Profit"; copyright, 1915, by Charles Scribner's Sons;

This excerpt from “Dinty the Porcupine” by Baker and Baker

A woodman found some young wood-chucks playing about their burrow. He caught one of the fuzzy little fellows, and took it home. The baby woodchuck was given to a little girl for a pet.
Dorothy named the small woodchuck "Peter." She placed her new pet in an old squirrel cage, and gave him fresh clover and water.
For the first few days Peter was very wild, and snapped and bit when any one came near. After a week he gave up biting and snapping. After two weeks he would nibble food held in the little girl's hand, and would let her pat his head. He grew very fast. In a month he was a large animal, and so tame that the little girl carried him in her arms like a pet cat.
One day his cage door was left open, and Peter walked out. He ran about for a short time, nibbled at grass and weeds, and went back to the cage.
After that the door to the cage was always left open. The woodchuck would play about the porch or nibble in the grass all day long, and would go back to his cage for the night. He had now learned his name and would come when called as quickly as a dog.
One day Dorothy's grandmother was baking. As Peter trotted into the kitchen, she gave him one of the cookies that she had made. He smelled at it, and tasted it. When he found that it was good, he ate it. From that time cookies were his favorite food.
As soon as he heard the sound of dishes and pans he would scurry around to the kitchen door. There he would sit on his hind legs, and wait until a cooky was given him. Then he would scamper off, jumping in the air and wagging his stumpy tail as he ran. He would sit under a tree, hold the cooky in his paws, and nibble away like a squirrel with a nut.
As Peter was free to go and come when he pleased, he would often wander off to the woods to spend the day, but he always came back at night. One bright day in October he did not return. Dorothy was afraid that he had been trapped. All winter long she missed her pet.

One fine April morning Dorothy and her grandfather were walking along the road. Suddenly Dorothy saw a big red woodchuck sitting on a stump in a field. The little girl called to her grandfather, that the woodchuck looked "just like Peter."
"Perhaps it is Peter," he replied. "Call him and see."
She went to the stone wall beside the road and called: "Peter, Peter! Come here, Peter!"
For a minute the big red woodchuck looked at the little girl with his head on one side. Then he scrambled down the stump, and came running across the field. Sure enough, it was Peter, safe and sound, and glad indeed to see his little friend after his long winter sleep!
Dorothy hugged and patted him, and danced about. Peter rubbed his nose against her, and made queer little barks in his throat.
Peter was carried home, and fed and petted enough to make up for all the time he had been away. That afternoon Dorothy's grandmother got out her baking pans and rolling pin. The minute that Peter heard the sounds, he ran to the kitchen door, sat up on his hind legs, and waited for his cooky. He had not forgotten what baking day meant.

"cooky" -Editor – not a mistake, an archaic spelling of cookie

1 comment:

Jody Tresidder said...

Hello Doug,
I've been tip toeing through your brilliant blog - seeking so far fruitlessly - the text of a lesser known article by the fascinating Hyatt Verrill. I am trying to locate any accessible source for the article which was, I gather, opinionated reportage by Verrill and published in McClure's Magazine, July 1924. The title is variously given as "Hunting the White Indians"/ "The Trail of the White Indians". Its subject was an American expedition to Panama - of which Verrill did not approve.

Can you possibly point me in any helpful direction?

I am grateful for your time. (Wonderful blog).

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.