My 4-year old son has definitely helped me discover the animal lover inside. I was near tears when we had to give up Flower, an orphaned baby squirrel who'd been in our care for about six hours last Friday. After a $600 date with the mechanic this past spring, my feelings for squirrels weren't quite on the 'A' list either. Allegedly, a large gray squirrel with bionic teeth who was angry about the cold spring weather chewed through a thick bundle of our Jeep's electrical wires. Our baby squirrel lived up to the rodent or mega-chewer status as well. He quickly became a caged pet who thoroughly enjoyed sawing through fat orange carrots. I'm sure a bundle of wires would have worked in a pinch.
How did I know the squirrel was an orphan, you say? I didn't. My conversation with the Humane Society went something like this ... "And he walked right up to my son like a trained animal and wouldn't leave, my son kept backing up and the squirrel kept moving forward. Then he made himself at home on our stoop and refused to leave ... he let me put him in a net and I fished him up a very tall tree ... soon he was down the tree again and back in our yard trying to get some attention." Apparently nature did it right again. The Humane Society told me this behavior is quite common. These critters innately leave the nest and seek help if abandoned.
I have a new respect and love for squirrels after holding the trembling Flower in my gloved hands. My son and I were both reminded that it is good to help a being in need, but it feels a little sad too*. I couldn't help think that Flower reached out to my son because he sensed Gabriel's kind heart. Flower will end up a normal nut-eating tree swinging sort of squirrel instead of -- well, attacked by a predator or locked in a cage as an overgrown unhappy rodent (who might actually dream of chewing through wires, hmm...), or worse yet, the victim of a trap in some one's attic. Lucky for Flower that the Humane Society in our area offers squirrel rehab. Lucky for us that we got to experience Flower first hand.
*As a child who grew up in the 70s, I have to say the Grizzly Adams theme song (click & listen) covers some of the feelings I was having on this day.