28 April 2008

A "Pip" of an encounter

I learned this weekend that living in the Blogosphere, as many of us do, can help us save lives in the RealWorldosphere, the alternate universe where everyone else lives, off-line. What a good feeling.

A fellow blogger, Poetikat, who usually makes wonderful display of her heart through her verse and imagery, showed her heart this weekend through her actions - she made an emergency rescue of a baby squirrel in her yard. She did this despite her own infirmity - she was still suffering the aftereffects of an allergic reaction to medicine, but somehow retrieved the little fellow while still clad in her pajamas (that is to say she was the one wearing the pjs, the squirrel was clad in his customary outfit). She e-mailed me, I tracked her down by phone, we consulted on what to do, and she made the baby comfy for the night and, by morning, she was enroute to a wildlife rehabilitator through a network I had found for her.

Poetikat and I are not within easy walking or even driving distance from one another. But this resourceful caring Canadian tracked me down here in the U.S. and the rescue of "Pip," as she has since named him, may well make him an international celebrity - the world's first NAFTA SQUIRREL RESCUE!

During this same weekend I cared for, but could not save, a female adult squirrel who had been brought to me, likely hit by car, and in horrible shape. As I cheered the happy fate of "Pip," I cried as this unfortunate adult squirrel grew cold before my eyes.

Still, it is good to know we are all connected this way - not just by our respective Internet servers but, more importantly, by our hearts.


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Hurrah for Pip, Poeticat and Squirrelmama!

Poetikat said...

I finally get my butt over here and look what I find! Thanks, Squirrelmama for such a wonderful tribute to Pip and myself. We could not have done it without you. (I must add that my husband Kevin was equally instrumental in the recovery and temporary rehab of this baby. He could hardly sleep the night before the handing over to someone who could really care for Pip.)

We have since learned that Pip (a.k.a. "Boo") was indeed in great peril. He had been castrated by
another squirrel and had to visit the vet for some treatment. We are all hopeful that an infection does not beset the little fellow who is, apparently, one of the sweetest-natured squirrels ever to be handled by Carol (his nurse).

Although we had hoped to have him released in our yard once he recovers, we do not want to put him in harm's way again, so I think we'll let Carol release him where she is - a far safer bet.

Although a poem may yet result from this encounter, it has not formulated to my satisfaction at this point. Perhaps the emotions tied to this special little guy are just too strong and overweigh the creativity of the Kat.

Many thanks to you, Squirrelmama for all you did to guide us through the adventure of having a real, live squirrel in our house, our hands and our hearts. Bless you!


squirrelmama said...

It is a privilege to save a life, isn't it? Feel good about that! Carol's work is going to be challenging but I hope she will keep you apprised of his condition. By the way, I seem to remember in the back of my mind that red squirrels are known to attack and sometimes even kill greys (and yes, even castrate them) so I am wondering if that is perhaps what happened in Pip's case? We do not have native reds in this part of southern New York, but I am told this does indeed happen in northern regions.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

This is interesting. I too have noticed reds can be quite aggressive although I have not actually seen an attack by a red on a grey, I have seen reds chase of greys. That is why I was surprised that in UK the greys are considered the more aggressive of the two.

squirrelmama said...

The reds in the UK are very different from the reds on this side of the Pond. British reds are Eurasian red squirrels, whereas the reds of North America are a different variety altogether. Even their Latin names are dissimilar - and presumably so are their temperaments.

Poetikat said...

When Kevin first noticed the squirrel (Pip) being attacked (or so it seemed), it was by a grey, not the little red guy who hangs around our yard (we call him Mighty Mouse because he hangs off the bird feeder by his front legs and takes his fill all the while.)
Indeed, after we had Pip in the cat carrier on the porch, a grey squirrel was hanging around (not his mum, as we had hoped but another male who seemed quite agitated, but did not approach him.


Sqmama, Sorry, I'm a bit late with some of my Post to Post cards. Yours is coming soon.

squirrelmama said...

Interesting about the other grey. I do wonder what that was about. They bully one another all the time but aren't known for anything more than a lot of sound and fury and occasional wrestling matches. That's not to say an exception couldn't occur.
I now have the full list of addresses, I think it is 14 right? And will send by week's end so...don't fret, you aren't late you will be right on time by my clock!

bob said...

I had a strange episode with a squirrel yesterday maybe you can help explain it. Check it out here... http://rvewong.wordpress.com/2008/05/04/nature-is-cruel/

squirrelmama said...

Bob, I am horrified and sickened by your story but, believe it or not, not surprised. But it is not uncommong for crows to attack squirrels, particularly vulnerable babies. Some of my colleagues have gotten in babies in previous years that were attacked by crows. They did survive because something scared the crows off. (Another baby was actually being tossed between two crows in a kind of game of catch.)

The photo of that poor bloodied baby will haunt me. I hope you were able to give the little one a burial.

Crows supposedly have the intelligence of a 2-year-old (researchers have documented this) but I believe from what I have heard, they have a level of cruelty of much older children. There is no need for predation on baby squirrels purely for amusement. Those poor babies.

my backyard said...

Hurray! Great to find this cheering story!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on making Blogs of Note! I'm a nature enthusiast and watch squirrels with my 2-year old most every day :)

jcat said...

Hi Squirrelmama,

I'm a wildlife rehabber here in South Africa. It's always interesting to read about rehab of different animals in far distant places.

Norie said...

A woman after my own heart! I will look forward to reading more of your blog.

I read with sorrow about the squirrel who was brought to you before dying. My consolation, and perhaps yours, is that to offer companionship in suffering is huge - even if we can do nothing more than that, that is huge.

I have an ongoing concern about what to do in cases like yours, and mine, wanting to have some kind of euthanasia substance in my car, should I come upon that situation again. We can take them to vets if there's a doc nearby, but there are times that there isn't, or there's not enough time, or no way to carry the animal.

Long long ago, terribly late for work, I once left behind a wounded squirrel in the road. Then I forgot about it.

For many years I had encounters with squirrels that would teach me things about myself - stories I will tell in a collection I'm writing. I felt a special kinship with them - an affinity, or attraction. I didn't remember the harm I'd done until decades later.

When I did remember, I sought to make some kind of amends - not able to change what happened in the past, maybe I could help some future animal.

For a time, when I was on quiet roads and saw a squirrel's body in the road, I would gather it up with newspaper gently, and lay its body on the earth under some bushes, as if to bury it. Sometimes the body was still warm, other times not. It wasn't gross, or weird, it was just the right thing to do to honor the life of another living creature, to acknowledge its death.

But yet a bigger amends awaited me a few years later, driving in town on what normally is a very busy 45 mph road on a Sunday morning. A cat ran out from the side of the road and the jeep in front of me kept going.

I'll spare the details so as not to traumatize any more than already, but what happened after that moment was amazing.

I don't know where the courage came for me to stop my car in the left hand turn lane as I did. It's like I was in auto pilot - just doing what had to be done. I found some cardboard in my trunk and went over to the cat, speaking to it, and seeing if I could find a way to lift it. I wasn't able to lift it on my own, so I ever so lightly stroked its forehead waiting for some help from somewhere.

Most amazingly the driver of a small red car recognized the cat, and its owner. When there was no answer to her cell phone call, she drove to the owners' house to get them. Is that an unbelievable coincidence?

A second car stopped, a Jeep with two dogs and dog owners headed out to the lake for the day. The two women jumped out and lent a quick hand. Several cars passed us - thank God it wasn't a weekday, we couldn't have handled the traffic. It might have been five minutes when we finally lay the cat on the grass next to the sidewalk.

Then the red car was back. She said the owner was coming.

That was all the courage I had. With the neighbor there, I begged my leave, and drove off - twenty minutes late for my breakfast meeting, but ever so thankful for the chance to make to redo what I didn't do two decades ago.

I shook ever so subtly for days it had taken so much courage for me to do that.

My consolation is that to offer comfort and company is something, and something very meaningful, even if we can do nothing to stop the pain, and to stop the ending of a life. I apply that with people also.

detroit dog said...

Squirrelmama! Congratulations on being blog of note! It's nice to see some recognition for our animal pals, especially our neighborhood ones. We have a new squirrel hanging out around here, this one is pregnant!



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Poetikat said...

Wow! You made Blogs of Note? I envy you! Big Congrats on that. I can only hope to get that kind of recognition.

By the way - we have a trio of crows who regularly haunt our yard and the vicinity - think there might be a connection with Pip? Just because Kevin spotted him with the other squirrel, doesn't necessarily mean it was that critter that did the deed.


maria said...

thats adorable! i did that when i was younger with a baby rabbit i found in my backyard. i was saving it from my dog who was looking for a little lunch. unfortunately, the baby didn't appreciate my care very much and died in the paper towel i was holding it in. i was so sad, because all i wanted to do was save the bunny and let it go back to its mama when the dog had gone away. :(

Anonymous said...

I am glad there are fellow squirel carers out there, i once rescued one that was being torn apart by a dog...needless to say it nearly chewed my finger off..terrified as it was i needed stitches but it survived...i still love them!

Vineeth Sukumaran said...

-Comment from Kerala, India.

Athena said...

Thats neat! My brother found a baby squirrel and he tried to take care of it for the night but... It had fallen from it's nest in a 12ft tree so it didn't make it. He had a funeral for it in the morning.

Just wanted to put that in!