DERRY — It wasn’t Michael Phelps, but a local resident has hosted an aquatic star of sorts in her backyard pool.
The first time Jennifer Lague told her friends about a squirrel doing laps in her pool, they thought she was a little nuts.
“They started teasing me on Facebook,” she said.
But the third time she saw the rodent paddling across the pool, she managed to take a picture.
Credit her dogs, an Australian shepherd named Skye and an Australian shepherd/American Eskimo mix named Rory, for sounding the alarm.
The first time she saw the bushy-tailed bather was three weeks ago, when she opened her pool for the season.
Skye and Rory were on the deck, the squirrel running along the railing.
“They were just barking and I saw the squirrel running along,” she said.
The squirrel jumped from the railing to the pool’s deck, jumped in the water, swam across, jumped out and ran to a tree.
It’s happened twice more since.
“I think it’s the same squirrel,” Lague said. “We’ve lived here for 15 years and we’ve never had a squirrel in my pool.”
Others have their doubts.
Animal control officers and biologists are baffled by the strange behavior.
Squirrels can swim, New Hampshire Fish and Game wildlife biologist Kim Tuttle said, but she said it was hard to believe a squirrel would jump into a pool just to swim.
“If they can’t easily get in and out, something’s amiss,” Tuttle said. “We have reports of squirrels drowning in pools all the time because they can’t get out.”
Hampstead Animal Control officer Sheila Johannesen has been called out when animals drown in residents’ pools, but has never been called for a swimming squirrel.
“I have never heard of anything like that,” she laughed. “It’s got to be a first.”