There's a beautiful young grey squirrel lying in a plastic box on the dinette table in our camper. It's 4:18 AM. Roo found the squirrel a couple of hours ago. The squirrel was paralyzed, lying motionless in the leaves, her eyes wide with fear. Until I saw her little side moving as she panted I didn't see the tell-tale sign that she was alive: there was terror in her wide eyes, as if she was caught in a nightmare and couldn't wake up to escape it.
I emptied out the only container I had that would fit the squirrel and folded up a grey t-shirt to fit the bottom. Worried about doing more damage to her, I picked her up as softly as I could from the damp leaves and pine needles and lay her in the box. I filled a water bottle with warm water and lay it alongside the squirrel's body. I figured the squirrel must have been mauled by a cat or a fox. I wasn't sure that dying inside in a box, itself inside the only slightly bigger box the human and the dog she must seen many times in this — in her — neighborhood was better then being left alone to die in peace in the night, where another squirrel might have come to pay some last respect or offer some fellowship at the end, but there was nothing else to do.
Even without moving the squirrel looked terrified lying on the t-shirt in the box while I picked out some of the wet leaves that were caught up when I scooped her up. Her eyes were the only thing beside her breathing that worked. They were wide with fear, and she was breathing fast. You can tell when any animal is terror-stricken. I considered trying to position her a little more comfortably — one of her legs was splayed out a little — but decided to spare her the handling. If she was paralyzed, she wouldn't be feeling anything anyway. I did run my fingers along her back a few times and said something about how no one was going to hurt her before I decided she was better off not hearing some big animal growling incomprehensibly at her.
Roo had been sleeping in a corner when I brought the box in. She had no idea what was going on. Springing a squirrel in a box on her was sure to delight her. And maybe if she knew I caught the squirrel she would elevate her esteem for me. I don't know. You never know what a dog is thinking in a case like this.
I'll keep you posted.
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