7:54 a.m. Approaching my car, I notice a splayed, brownish brick in the middle of the driveway. The brick moves. Putting on my glasses, I see that the brick is a squirrel, just hanging out in the middle of the driveway in that totally abnormal way. He’s splayed out and doesn’t even try to scamper.
“Hey buddy,” I say, taking a step toward the squirrel. The squirrel chitters, which, translated, was something like, “Back off, Lame-o. And who says ‘buddy’ anymore, anyway?” The insulting squirrel then draggy-scampers across the driveway toward our side gate — and that’s when I notice he’s injured. His little back legs barely work, and the dude is just plain ailing.
I instantly try the calming approach: “Awww, buddy! You’re hurt. It’s okay little guy.” The insulting squirrel glares, attempts to climb the gate but gets no father than extending one paw against the door. He looks EXACTLY like one of those soldiers from Saving Private Ryan collapsed on the beaches of Normandy. Except no blood — just exhaustion and sorrow.
He hates me.
7:58 a.m. In my attempt to prove I am a kind and gentle person and not at all like a Nazi, I open the garage door, retrieve a towel and a box and attempt to trap the poor little
POW fella. Convinced I can help him if I can just capture him, I throw the towel over him; he deftly scampers out of my clutches, under the barbed-wire-like towel fence and into my garage. He heads straight for the camping equipment storage shelves (familiar smell, perhaps?) and slides right under. BLASTED! I note that he is incredibly slow for an injured squirrel; and that I am shamefully slower.
7:59 a.m. Insulting squirrel is cute, sure, but I have to remember that squirrels — insulting or no — are feral animals. As I look into the distance, I thoughtfully recall the time I went camping when I was 5. (cue music) There were literally hundreds of them running about the campground: soft, furry, adorable. Chipmunks. And I was convinced by impulse and scientific certainty that all vermin liked peanuts and that — if I could pet one — I could solve the ages-old debate of whether or not chipmunks had soft fur. Taking a peanut shell, in one hand I offered one brave ‘munk a nibble, and with my other hand, I reached out to pet the creature. SNAP! That rat clamped down on my finger like it was the last thing it would ever eat. Frightened, I leapt to my feet and pulled back my hand — and the chipmunk was still attached. I shook my hand, but the ‘munk would not let go. One shake; two shakes; finally, by the third shake I was able to free my hand from the gaping maw of the feral beast. Yes, there was blood. Also, it hurt. (end music) Deciding there was no need to be this timid creature’s hero, I call the SPCA.
8:04 a.m. After several minutes on hold, I am told that I am out of the SPCA’s jurisdiction. I call my local PD and get in touch with Animal Services. They assure me they’ll send someone over shortly.
8:18 a.m. I return from taking my daughter to school and check on the squirrel’s position; I can’t see him. “Fella? Are you there, buddy?” I see nothing. I move away, convinced he’d left for greener pastures when Insulty McChitterton lets loose with some of the most foul squirrel language you can imagine. Sure, it was just one ear-splitting squeak, but that squeak told me all I needed to know about that rat bastard. He was alive. He was fierce. And he was not going to go down without a fight.
8:20 a.m. Clutching my once-injured finger, I begin moving the camping equipment off the shelving, so Animal Services can have clear access to McChitterton. Once moved, I see he is simply a frightened, very injured little guy, and maybe a wee bit scared. I also notice my garage is a horrible, embarrassing disaster.
9:05 a.m. After cleaning the garage, I go into the house to retrieve some peanuts and a dish of water for Insulty McChitterton. Oh sure, the potty talk returned with a vengeance, and it was so loud my massive dog, Lucy, was getting offended. I considered letting her come out and school McChitterton in proper guest etiquette, but refrained. Mostly because I am a good host and NOT AT ALL LIKE A NAZI, STUPID SQUIRREL.
9:06 a.m. I line the peanuts up, one after the next, so as to lead McChitterton out from his clearly uncomfortable perch toward the larger nut pile and the dish of water. I even manage to get a nut enticingly close to his face. No go. Insulty McChitterton will have none of this. Time for the big guns.
9:10 a.m. Taking the handle of a small broom, I am able to slide the now truly cheesed-off squirrel out from under the shelving, and into the corner of the garage. I presume this is a much better position for Animal Services to retrieve McChitterton. They will have all kinds of little things to use to capture and assist this poor, injured fella. They are experts at animal retrieval, I remind myself.
9:22 a.m. Animal Services arrives and has no idea what to do. The officer tells me that she has never caught a squirrel before. Ever.
The officer has a pincher-thing and a cage, but the pincher is too large and McChitteron is too coy. Even with two gimpy legs he is able to slide on through.
Alas, it is up to me.
Taking the handle of the broom, I scoot the incredibly foul-mouthed beast into the cage. I look into his eyes. “See squirrel,” I say in my mind, “I’m not at all like a Nazi.”
9:25 a.m. McChitteron, now in custody, is placed securely in the back of the Animal Services truck. “I’m so glad you’ll be able to help this poor little guy,” I say, relieved at having helped my animal friend.
The officer shrugs, and informs me that the department has never gotten a call for assisting an injured squirrel. She has no idea what they’re going to do with him, or if they can even help him.
It’s not until she drives away that I try to imagine what they will do with an angry, injured, feral squirrel, especially since their shelter is overloaded. And then it hits me: gas chamber.