One of our favorite moments of each day is when we get to see our favorite crazy squirrel, Sunny. We haven’t seen a lot of her lately, though. She recently had babies, so that’s not so odd. But still it was a little strange because even though Sunny had disappeared for a few days (when we think she had her babies), she had started coming around again. She had resumed her daily duties of chasing the other squirrels around the trees and back yard (generally showing them who’s boss) and seemed like her old self. But a few days ago while she was harassing another squirrel, one of them took a tumble out of the big tree in the back yard. From 20 feet up, at least. I couldn’t tell if it was Sunny who had taken the fall, but whichever squirrel it was seemed okay, despite landing with a solid thud.
I didn’t see see Sunny for a few days after that. For so long, in fact, that I was beginning to worry that we might have seen the last of her. We’re all too aware of how short the lifespans of squirrels are, and we know that there will eventually come a day when Sunny won’t show up anymore. We dread that day, but have accepted it. Still, whenever we don’t see her for awhile, we fear the worst.
Sunny did show back up the other day, just as I was beginning to think she wouldn’t. But she wasn’t acting right. Sometimes the other squirrels will come up close to me, so when she did so but didn’t try to jump on my leg like she usually does, I began to second-guess myself. Maybe it wasn’t Sunny. I offered her a peanut and tried to get her to jump up on my knee like she usually does. She didn’t seem interested at first, but she did try. She didn’t make it, but hung on my pants leg. I handed her a peanut and she dropped back to the ground. As she scampered off, I noticed she was walking funny, so I followed her as she went over to the fence and back on over to the tree where she nests.
I went over to Sunny. She was hanging upside down on the tree trunk. I noticed she was hanging by one hind leg. The other hind leg was hanging limp. That’s when I realized that she was injured, and must have been the squirrel that fell out of the tree. My heart went out to her. An injured squirrel leads a precarious existence. I rubbed under her chin with a fingertip (she likes that). She braced herself against my hand with a front paw. I offered her my hand, hoping she would come over onto my shoulder so I could take a closer look at her leg. But Sunny didn’t come over onto my shoulder. Instead, she laid down in my hand. That really touched my heart. It’s hard to find a better example of complete trust than a wild squirrel laying down in your hand. Sunny laid her head down on my wrist and just watched me. She seemed to take comfort from me as much as I marveled at the wonder of this little squirrel.
Sunny didn’t lay there long. She went on up onto my shoulder. I looked her over as best as I could, then gave her a peanut, after which she climbed back up into the tree, climbing without using her injured leg. I watched her climb up toward her nest, wishing there was something I could do to make her more comfortable.
The leg didn’t seem to be broken or mangled in any way. So in spite of the fact that she’s obviously injured, I have to believe Sunny will be all right. Some would suggest capturing her and taking her to a vet. But really, wild squirrels don’t rate that highly on vets’ compassion scale, and we don’t have the money anyway. Besides, I would never want to subject Sunny to any form of captivity. She’s free, and deserves to remain free.
So we wait and hope. In the meantime I’ll pray for Sunny and for a full and speedy recovery. This little squirrel has been a precious gift to us. I will do what I can and make sure she has a steady supply of peanuts and sunflower seeds. I will make sure she has fresh water every morning to help her get through these hot Florida days. And, when she’ll let me, I’ll scratch her under her chin, or just stroke her back with a soft, reassuring contact.
In some way, I’m sure Sunny knows we love her. And given the fact that she comes straight to us when we’re outside, I suspect she loves us, too. Hopefully all this will be enough to keep her going as she heals up. May she soon he back to lording it over the other squirrels in the back yard, and re-asserting her position as the favorite of He Who Brings Peanuts.
If you have an ounce of compassion in your heart for animals, I ask that you say a little prayer for Sunny. All animals have a right to life and prosperity, but this one has made a special place in our hearts. She is a gift that I hope to treasure for some time to come. A gift that I know I will remember for the rest of my life. Here’s to the speedy recovery of Sunny the Squirrel.