Just after I published last week’s blog another paw smile arrived in the form of a two-week-old baby squirrel. When my two young grands and I piled out of the car after school there was a scrap of gray fur huddled against a wall of our carport. I thought he was dead, that one of the cats had wounded him and them left him for us as a gift. They have been known to do that. But when Charli picked him up, he went from lethargy to full speed climbing in her hair, around her neck and dipping into her shirt for a warm cozy spot. Of course giggles and squeals erupted from all three of us.
Granddaddy brought home a syringe from the office for feeding the little guy warm milk. The children squabbled over who would feed him but Charli won because, as she put it, she had picked him up first. She named him Cuddles because he loved to nestle against her neck. But later, after he was installed as the newest baby in the Evans household, Daddy Jared renamed him Scrappy. His claws were too sharp for a Cuddles, he said.
Scrappy gave hours of pleasure to the Evans family, especially Charli who faithfully fed her little charge. Sunday afternoon, after the Wednesday adoption, I asked how Scrappy was doing. Charli reported that he wasn’t eating that day. Within a couple of hours Scrappy died while Charli held him and talked to him. With crocodile tears tracing down her cheeks Charli assisted big sister Candi in burying the baby. Today, three days later, Charli and brother Kaison said mournfully they miss Scrappy so much. I asked Charli if she would rather not have had Scrappy and she quickly replied that she wouldn’t trade the time with Scrappy for a million dollars. “I gave him a good life,” she said sagely.
One Very Blessed Hen
When I told my sister, Suzanne, about this latest wildlife adventure, she remembered some of her times helping little orphaned wild babies, like the possum that grew up in their house, and others. But one of the most memorable, she told me, was the chicken. The chicken! I didn’t remember that story. She said she was on her way from her to house to our mother’s when she came upon a chicken flapping and writhing on the pavement. She stopped and picked it up and took it to Mamma’s yard where she placed it under a shady tree to die in peace. But it didn’t die. She eventually took it home and nurtured it back to health. It was crippled but it hopped around her yard for months, even years, happy as a prisoner set free, which it was. She’s sure the hen had fallen from a loaded chicken truck to what seemed certain death but was rescued to a new life.
One Not So Golden Goose
Suzanne’s story reminded me of our goose refugee. Many years ago Charles came home from the animal hospital with a one-legged goose. Owners didn’t want her but he thought maybe we could give her a good life. Which we did. Charles sank an empty paint can into the ground making a ground-level watering trough for the poor thing and we all rallied around the odd goose in our already interesting menagerie. Then, one day, we came home to find the goose upside down in her watering trough, cold and dead. She’s fallen in and, with only one leg, couldn’t get herself out. A sad ending to our not so golden goose!
One Special Cow
Some of our little animal friends are with us such a short time but they add much joy to our lives and we hope we’ve given them a good life, even if brief. But some pets stay around for a very long time. Such was the case with my friend Cheryl Gravenstein’s mother’s cow. A cow is not usually considered a pet but this one was. Cheryl said when her mother was born someone gave her a heifer as a birth gift. She grew up taking care of that heifer. When she married she took her cow with her and added more cows to keep that one company. Cheryl remembers milking, feeding the cows, and herding them back in when they broke out of their fence. I asked her how old the “birth cow” was when she died, but I don’t remember what Cheryl said.
However long we have them, let’s treasure our creatures large and small.