I just got home from getting my daughter at school, when one of the painters… we’re fixing the outside of the house… pointed out to her a squirrel lying under a tree on the side yard. Apparently they discovered it injured in one of our bushes and tried to give it some water. By the time we got there she had already had a few flies on her and her breathing was labored. Her tiny chest would move up… and down… very slowly, but only intermittently. Clearly this squirrel was dying.
My daughter and I crouched down and stared and we were both a bit sad, but what could we do?
I called the animal shelter and we’re actually waiting for them to arrive, but on last check, the breathing had stopped.
The guys said she was acting really strange and thought maybe she was bit by something. Obviously we have rattle snakes around here, which makes me nervous for my sniff around at everything, chase everything little dog. It could have been a Black Widow… also in abundance in this part of town. I don’t know. Apparently she was biting at rocks and things and could not move her back legs… Sounds like a paralysis of sorts… so maybe it was a bite.
It’s odd. As a kid I was always fascinated by squirrels, especially the ones in Central Park who had no fear and would come right up to you if they knew a snack was forthcoming. Then at Northwesterm outside of Chicago, I was able to do this clicking sound that they seemed to dig and I would become like a pied piper, literally having several furry creatures following me as I walked through campus. You’d think that skill would have landed me more dates, but no… not really. Actually none. That’s sad, too.
As an adult, I don’t care much about squirrels. I hear them running around on my roof, playing. That’s kind of nice. But then they knock down all of the fruit from my plum and apricot trees before the fruit even has time to ripen. That kind of pisses me off. I mean, how rude… they knock ’em all down and don’t even have the decency to finish one at a time. Instead of a bowl full of fruit or jars filled with amazing jams and preserves, I have a carpet of rotting fruit with one bite out of each piece. Really?
I’m staring outside at a tree right now that had all these beautiful plums developing and now, nothing… not a single one left.
But on the other hand… watching this little creature fighting to breathe… eyes barely open… was, dare I say, heartbreaking. Her face was kind of cute. Is it odd that less than five minutes after I walked in the door from witnessing her die that I smashed a fly to death without even thinking about it? Flies don’t have a face… well… a cute face, so it’s easier to be callous and not give it a second thought.
But this squirrel… The worker seemed upset and kept telling me about how they did all they could to try to take care of her. I felt bad for him. What can you do? In nature, animals just die. Hell in life creatures just die. Old age or a fall or something else. It just happens.
I told him he did all that he could. It was nice that he would try. Most of us would just not do a thing. Maybe that’s the saddest part of all.