Sunday, August 31, 2008

Day of the Squirrels...

Ever since I was in 6th grade and we went to my friends house in small town Nebraska to play with their pet squirrel, I've wanted one for myself. Even before that, some of my earliest memories were of my grandpa taming black squirrels in his back yard so that they would take walnuts from his hand.

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to tell a squirrel story of my own.

It started simple enough, I was letting the dogs out, and like normal I was sitting and watching them from a concrete step in my backyard. I wasn't paying much attention until I noticed they were both looking intently at something on the tree, and that something, just out of the reach of their nose was a baby squirrel. I really wanted to capture the moment so I grabbed my camera phone and tried to snap a picture. The dogs were to excited so nothing came out, but I decided to take a closer look anyway. Upon further investigation I noticed that the poor baby had a bloody nose and was very wobbly on the side of the tree. As soon as I noticed this he stumbled forward into the reach of the dogs, and Ringo, my puppy, had the squirrel in his mouth on a second. I yelled "Drop it" as loud as I could and rushed over to stop him. He dropped it on command but went after it again. I grabbed his collar and pulled him off and the squirrel made its way up the tree again, half in a daze. Just to make sure the baby was ok I stuck my head up the tree and gave a look. He was huddled at the fork of two branches and looked kinda beat up. Since I'm stupidly fearless around animals, I slowly lifted my hand up near the little guy, and to my surprise he climbed right in my hand. I slowly lowered the both of us out of the tree and had Mindy put the dog away.

Since I wasn't sure how hurt he was, I decided I should keep an eye on him, so I brought out my 25 gallon aquarium and put him in with a little dish of water and some almonds. He wasn't interested at first so I decided to leave him alone for a bit. I went upstairs and had dinner and came back down a little later. He still hadn't touched anything so I decided there wasn't anything else I could do but let him go. I tipped the aquarium and he crawled out, but instead of scampering away, he started hopping towards me. I took a step back and he hopped towards me again. Another step back, another hop towards me. Finally I sat down on the ground to see how it all played out, and Mr. Squirrel decided to climb in my lap. I cradled him there for a little while and took some pictures with him. Finally, since he seemed to be feeling better, I decided it was time to set him free. I picked him up and started heading over to the tree again but as I did, another baby squirrel came crawling across the neighbor's yard to the same tree I was headed to. As he climbed up he chattered at me a little bit but wasn't afraid as I came closer. Since the baby I had in my hand wasn't interested in getting on the tree again, I thought maybe his little brother would help. I held him up and they nuzzled each other. I was even able to pet the brother and the thing almost fell asleep on the side of the tree. Finally after knowing I was getting too attached, I set the baby on the tree and he started to climb again. They nuzzled each other again and I considered my work to be done. I walked away and went back into the house.

10 minutes later I decided to check on them again, this time from my deck. When I walked out, one of the little guys was clear up above my eye level, but when he saw me, he started down the tree again. When he got to the bottom he started squeaking really loud and then scampered towards my house. He was squeaking and squeaking and actually trying to climb the side of my house, then he decided to sit on the stoop of my basement door.

I went downstairs once again and opened the door, and there was the little brother squirrel sitting and looking at me. I gently picked him up and took him back over to the tree and let him go again. He looked at me once more and then went up the tree again.

I saw them playing later that night. When I went outside again, the brother was in the neighbor's yard again, and squeaked when he saw me, but chose not to come say hi again. I'm hoping maybe I've made some friends that will come back and visit me. If not though, at least I had the experience.

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