"Hey Mom, look who came to play with me!"
Late last night we let the dog out, and she promptly alerted us with a bark: "Nighttime intruders! Reinforcements needed!"
So Daughter Number Two and I armed ourselves with a flashlight and went to see how we could help. There's been a fox coming round lately, nosing in the compost, and we hoped she or he had come back. Or maybe it was one of the muntjac deer that live in the woods in Buckinghamshire.
But instead we found the dog was trying to befriend the hedgehog again. Mrs Tiggy-Winkle has told her in no uncertain terms that a relationship is out of the question, but my dog insists on trying to reach out. (She's had a bad reputation in this county, ever since she nicked one of Tony Blair's squirrels. The smaller mammal species steer well clear of her.)
I grabbed my camera, of course, and my daughter, who wants to befriend the hedgehog almost as much as the dog, mustered up the courage to pet Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. She spotted a slug nearby, and when I told her that's what hedgehogs eat, she mustered up even more courage and picked it up, placing it gingerly near what she assumed was the mouth end of Mrs. T. We hoped it would be interpreted as a sign that us natives were friendly, or at least that our yard has good grub.
Did I mention that my daughters both had Beatrix Potter bedding when they were infants? And the complete set of Peter Rabbit dinnerware, as well as the books? We like the idea of having hedgehogs in our garden, almost as much as we like having cows next door.
But this was not the charming vermin-infested garden of Beatrix Potter. Poor Mrs. T. probably was imagining she'd happened upon a scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as I snapped photos with my flash while DNT held the flashlight.
Then the dog had a go at peace negotiations. She lay down right next to her, having heard something about lions lying down with lambs. She looked longingly toward Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, but hedgehogs have very prickly temperaments. Mrs. T. refused to budge an inch, not exhibiting the least bit of curiosity about another species.
We don't get the slugs out for just anyone, I tell you, so after that we called the dog in, turned out the light, and finished watching our movie.
Beatrix Potter must have had a different sort of hedgehog in her garden.
More photos below.