Squirrels and Unicorns

I think my dogs are under the impression that there is only one squirrel. 

We go on walks of varying length over the course of the week, and inevitably, we will come across a squirrel once or twice in that span.  When they spot this nemesis of theirs, they have an absolute meltdown unlike anything else I can think of.  Huge leash lunges and desperate, whining whimpers escape from their exasperated forms as they summon whatever strength they can, to pull me towards whatever nearby tree the squirrel has already escaped into.  My dogs will never actually catch a squirrel mind you, though I wouldn’t let them even if they could. 

But what has become apparent to me over the course of my canine ownership, is that their reactions seem almost driven by some sort of long-held grudge.  I think this is because they are under the impression that whatever squirrel they see while we’re out walking, no matter where that walk might be taking place, is almost assuredly the exact same squirrel that has been tormenting them for the duration of their lives. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that they either do no know that there are multiple squirrels in the world, or, that they do, but that for whatever reason, they still believe this to be their one, solitary enemy.  Who knows, maybe my dogs just aren’t good at recognizing the subtle qualities that differentiate one squirrel from another, but that is something I will simply never know. 

What I do know, is that each new appearance of a squirrel causes them to have increasingly dramatic conniptions of misbehavior, which I believe could at least be somewhat explained by a conclusion stating that they were under the assumption that this one, devilish beast was continuing to haunt them on a weekly, walking basis. 

This squirrel has become the beating heart under the floorboards of my dog’s mental capacities.  Try as they might to not think about it, every ingrained instinct is screaming at them to kill that effing jackass.   

You would understand how crazy something might make you if you thought it was the only one, and you wanted it so badly in your teeth, but you could never attain it.   It’s like having your greatest desire just out of reach at all times.

I find this to be a fitting analogy when I think of the world of unicorn wines.  Working in this industry has taught me that there are rabid dogs out there, desperately trying to get their jaws on different varieties of wine that they believe simply MUST be the one and only.

We, as an industry, are partly to blame.  We take these molehills and make our mountains, and then we stare down the rocky face watching as desperate oenophiles fall to their doom in the climb towards a perfection that doesn’t really exist. 

All too often, a wine reaches a level of mythos wherein  nothing else will suffice, and rather than realize that there is typically a nearby equivalent in geography or style, we mourn for a lost experience that we don’t really even understand.  We’ve convinced ourselves that the only thing that will quench our desire is the great white buffalo…the unicorn hidden deep in the wine woods. 

In the modern world of the sommelier, our Unicorns have become very well defined.  We designate our giants based on a combination of factors that include wine ratings, top ten lists, darling endorsements, and how many bottles are actually available.  These ghosts become attached to all sorts of hyperbole-driven superlatives that only add to our salivating need to possess. 

And while we search in vain, we forget that right across the dirt road is a vineyard making similar wines for hundreds of dollars less.  We ignore the up-and-coming region with the same soil, latitudes, and platitudes.    

Basically, we become like dogs, believing that there is only one squirrel worth chasing.  In doing so, we miss the bigger picture—that the wine world, while full of rare diamonds, has plenty of mesmerizing gemstones found along the way.  For every Grand there is a Premier, for every first label there is a second, and for every highly lauded institution and filigreed chateau, there is an undiscovered garage wizard and new world mad scientist just waiting for you to step outside the box.

Don’t get so caught up in the quest for the Holy Grail, that you forget how much fun it is to be living the adventure along the way.