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.

25 April 2008

Squirrel has a blog, but no home

You read that right. A homeless squirrel. Anyplace he hangs his nuts is home. Only he doesn't have one.

Meet "Treeless Squirrel." Here's his blog: http://blog.treeless-squirrel.com/
He also has a video on http://www.youtube.com/ - and apparently, quite a following.

Made homeless by the cutting down of too many trees, this activist-vagrant has taken to the streets - and the blogosphere - with the gentle battlecry to PLANT MORE TREES. He devotes his blog to different varieties of trees - and handles the rodent real-estate crisis with grace and expertise that would be the envy of any human real-estate agent.

Humans may have Habitat for Humanity; rodentia has Habitat for Squirrelry, and he is its founder, an articulate, likeable, one-of-a-kind character you won't soon forget.

But then, that's the idea, isn't it?

24 April 2008

Santa Monica, a city with a heart

Just a few minutes ago, a colleague here at work brought me a collection of six photos that have become available through the Getty Images news service: they are beautiful portraits of squirrels. Some are clinging to trees, looking stately and squirrelly; others are just hanging out and have had their faces captured in glorious close-up. The photos show these animals with soft, intelligent eyes and inquisitve expressions on their faces, and are meant to accompany an announcement by the City of Santa Monica in California, that officials there have found a humane solution to the overpopulation of squirrels in Palisades Park.

The county wanted to solve the problem by trapping and euthanizing the animals (just imagine what this kind of governmental thinking might opt to do in an overpopulated Third World country!) but the city came up with an alternative - contraptive vaccines.

Well, squirrels have no ethical or religious doctrines against such interventions. And yes, they can be promiscuous from time to time.

Of course squirrels also have no health insurance coverage that might underwrite the cost of birth control. But the city, bless its collective heart, is picking up the tab. No squirrels will be harmed (just vaccinated) and, over time, the population should reduce considerably.

I'm not sure how I feel about manipulating the balance of nature like this but, seeing as an entire city was built long ago on land that was formerly wild, the balance of nature was actually tipped a long time ago. The best we humans can try to do is protect what's left by doing no harm, and particularly by not killing.

Maybe our neighbors in Britain, who have been killing grey squirrels as they imperil the native reds, should visit Santa Monica?

22 April 2008

The squirrel factory is open for business

Actually, the squirrel makers have been in business since winter (that was breeding season) and now, since February, the production line has been rolling out the latest spring models (birth season seems to get longer each year).

Two of this season's current models are in residence here: both are female and both arrived, separately, but within 2 days of one another. One is 5 weeks old; the other, closer to 6 weeks of age. Angel, the younger one, arrived bloodied about the nose, with a split and equally bloody lower lip. Her teeth, thank goodness, remained straight and intact despite what I presume was a fall with full frontal impact upon her beautiful face. So far, no signs of neurologic damage - something we dread with this kind of injury. She is nursing nicely, she is eating solids and she is being very squirrelly.

The older one, Massa, is still a bit of a mystery. The homeowners said she was on the ground for a few days, unable to climb, and had a "leg injury" but I suspected it was not so much a leg injury but perhaps a neurologic impairment. Now that I see her, she is not so terribly neurologic (she is twitchy and nervous but that is understandable). Something's up though. For one thing, the suspect leg - right rear leg - has SEVEN digits on it. A squirrel's rear leg should only have five.

Stay tuned on this one. I would like to put them together in the next day or so once I am convinced there is nothing contagious going on (I routinely quarantine new admissions.)

It could be that the squirrel factory turned out a little baby that grew to have defects and Momma didn't honor the warranty.

She'll be safe here. They both will be.

02 April 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, comes this lovely essay written for the newspaper's blog, about the horrors of being a motorist who cannot stop in time to save a life. I encourage everyone to read it for its beauty and compassion.

I have written the author privately to thank her for expressing the experience so well.