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It's been a year now since an eastern gray squirrel got a second chance to live. We have named this guy "Lucky."
January 28, 2003 - Running into tires @ 7 A.M.
My husband was traveling to work, just a few blocks away, when a squirrel dashed out in front of his car. He swerved, yet the thud of the squirrel's body against the right front tire was unmistakable.
Pulling the car over to the side of the street, he retrieved the curled up body laying in the road. He'd didn't want to leave him there. His chances of surviving due to the well-traveled lanes would be nil. Or to put it another way, how many people would stop to pick up or steer clear of a motionless squirrel in the road?
Mr. Squirrel was curled up in a ball and very still. My husband placed him on the passenger seat then drove back home.
Imagine opening the door and your loved one's holding a furry creature, asking "what can we do?" The squirrel's feet, fur and body all looked in good shape, however, the critter was convulsing now and curling more and more into a ball in my husband's gloved hands. We wondered if his back was damaged?
We both had to be at work so I took a large blue blanket and fashioned a makeshift bedding spot alongside the garbage can which sits behind our garage. The January morning was cold, partly cloudy with light snowflakes. My husband, feeling quite sad that he couldn't stop in time to avoid the impact w/the squirrel, carefully placed the guy inside the blanket.
My husband headed to Milwaukee again and I finished getting ready to drive to my job. Conscience and my caring heart guided me to check on mr. squirrel before I left for work. Already I was pretty glum that there wasn't much we could do to save his life. [ Back then, we had no idea that the Wildlife In Need Center existed. ] When I pulled the blanket back from his body, mr. squirrel abruptly straightened out and moved a few inches, cowering into the folds of the blue blanket. Whew, perhaps his back wasn't damaged after all. Off I went to work saying squirrel prayers all the way there! And numerous times while I sat at my desk for the next 8 hours.
My husband drove home at the end of his workday and began shoveling the light snow which accumulated on the driveway. Before grabbing the shovel, though, his eyes searched the yard for the squirrel. He wasn't anywhere near the curled up stiff blue blanket behind our garage.
Thank goodness, "Lucky" was spotted around the house and behind by the deck and for a time hunkering down near the base of a large arborvitae. The squirrel didn't scamper about as a completely healthy, non-injured squirrel would do. One could tell he suffered injuries or trauma due to the collision. My hubby continued shoveling and keeping tabs on the squirrel's situation and whereabouts. As best he could. Until the squirrel moved off into the darkness towards the tree line in back of our house.
I got home about an hour later. He told me all about where the squirrel hopped to, hopped from, perched at, etc. We went outside to look for his tracks. No sign of 'im, though.
We pushed the garage door closer and went in to start supper.
About 10 p.m. I asked my husband if he'd retrieve the phone from my car so I could plug it in for recharging. Karl wears shoes 99.9% of the time whereas my feet are sock-covered or slippered after wearing heels all day at work. Good thing about getting the cell phone. As there in the garage near my car's back tire was Lucky.
We folded an old comforter into a comfy bed ( yeesh, we were new at this squirrel-caregiver routine ) and placed a water dish in the garage along w/some nuts in case he had the strength or desire to try nibbling. In the morning my husband was able catch him as he scurried between the cars parked in the garage. Lucky lightly bit my husband's gloved hands, but at least he was catchable. And feisty. Once outside, he dashed over Karl's shoulder, froze for a moment and peed, then took off for the trees. He was set free into another chilly January day and we desperately hoped he'd be alright on his own in the wild. He jumped away and we were grateful his limbs allowed him to move, escape, and climb if needed.
Ever since his release, we've watched for Lucky behind the garage or in the yard near nesting spots. Two months later, March of 2003, we were rewarded with the distinguishable, disabled gait that sets Lucky apart from other backyard squirrels. This past summer we observed Lucky's motor skills and concluded that his head trauma healed extremely well. He still has an uneven stance or tilts to one side when eating nuts. One eye is partially closed, not as open as other squirrels' eyes. Yet he can leap from tree branches and scoot pretty fast when he's chased by other resident squirrels. This past fall * Lucky * was head hauncho - chasing other youngens away from nut and seed dishes. About a 90% recovery rate. And I watched him near a tree collecting or chewing on black walnuts as the weather turned colder.
We smile and exclaim "Lucky's here" everytime he hops near the deck or doors foraging for maple seeds, nuts, or drinking from our bird/squirrel clay saucer water dish.
Nuturing & giving critters a 2nd chance can fill your hearts with joy.
He's a very ordinary, and resilient lucky fellow.
Lucky perching on a maple tree branch, May 2003