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  • Writer's pictureS. Rae

A Squirrel Named Hope

Some Native Americans believe squirrel is the Boy Scout of the animal kingdom. Always preparing, and gathering seeds for times of scarcity, and in this day and age, squirrel medicine is a good medicine to learn.

Three days ago early in the morning, I was preparing to take the garbage to the road, when I heard a strange, rustling sound. I looked in the direction of the disturbance, and noticed near the woods edge, a local cat had a squirrel by the neck in its mouth.

The squirrel was violently shaking its head and body in an attempt to free itself from the clutches of the cat’s jaws. I yelled at the cat and took off after him, and as I reached the edge of the woods, I noticed the cat had dropped the squirrel and taken off.

The squirrel was still shaking uncontrollably on the ground, and was in obvious shock. I also noticed this poor little thing was what a veterinary friend of mine calls a squirvenile. A juvenile squirrel that playfully runs the branches of the elms and the oaks with its brothers and sisters, learning to gather and prepare for scarce times ahead.

Having worked in the veterinary business for over 20 years myself, including being a surgical tech for a few of those years, I immediately removed my flannel shirt, picked up the squirvenile and examined her for injuries. There were none outwardly, but I feared for her neurological condition as her head shaking continued.

I was afraid the squirvenile had done more damage to herself than the cat had done, and it appears my assessment had been correct. Only time, love, warmth, and food, would determine her outcome.

Watching her violent, desperate shaking attempts to extricate herself from the cat’s grip reminded me of a story long ago when I was just eight years old. When I was in grade school I was on the gymnastics team. I wasn’t as good as some of the other kids, and because of that I was bullied by some of the boys on the team.

One particular boy continually harassed me, and one day I had had enough. He was teasing me thru a window, and I put my fist thru the window to punch him in the face. The only part of that episode that hurt was when I pulled my hand back thru the broken pane and cut my wrist. Of course there was blood on me, and when the teachers came over to see what happened, I was told, had I not pulled my hand back through the broken window, I probably would not have cut myself.

I thought about that lesson that we generally do the most damage to ourselves, as I watched this poor squirvenile fight for her life, knowing she was probably contributing to her own possible demise. Wouldn’t it be great if a squirvenile could learn the lesson of playing dead from a opossum?

I know most insects, small and large mammals, and plants are food for other’s survival. I also know humans should not interfere with the natural circle of life, but I am human, born with a heart, a conscience, intelligence, and love for all of Great Spirit’s Creation, so I interfered to help the squirvenile.

This little squirvenile could have been a cat’s breakfast, or a cat’s kill. Now Hope, the squirvenile, hangs with me comfortably recovering from a nightmare I could never imagine. After all, aren’t humans at the top of the food chain?

All the more reason we need to become the stewards we were intended to be to the planet, and all creatures great and small.

Carpe Diem Hope!

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