It's Friday afternoon and the first day my kids have been back at preschool for two weeks after a COVID quarantine. I've had a couple of beers so I'm going to tell you about the squirrel we rescued.
T'was a warm spring evening in Minneapolis as I returned home from the park with my two toddlers, and what should I see but my wife standing anxiously in our driveway.
"Odd," I said to myself, quite attractively, noting my wife still had her work clothes on and she should surely have returned almost an hour earlier.
The reason for this became apparent, as she'd been looking after a baby squirrel that had fallen from a tree, seemingly lost its mother, and was now attempting to run into our (very busy) street after a quick stop in the wheel well of our car.
My wife tried to coax it into the garage for some water, and when I arrived the critter was still trying to get onto the road. I blocked it, it climbed onto my shoe, so I gingerly walked it back to a bush near our house.
About an hour into our squirrel parentage, I discovered my wife had named it – which pretty much screwed any idea that we would be leaving him outside overnight.
The name? Merle ... like "Merle the Squirrel." It rhymes, apparently. I'm British so I pronounce it "skwi-rel" but I've since been informed Minnesotans pronounce it "skwerl." We don't know its sex, so the Anglo-American compromise was that if it's a female squirrel it would be "Meryl" (Meh-ril).
Merle was very bold (approaching us, sniffing and rubbing against our shoes), there was no adult squirrel around looking for him, and he kept falling while trying to get up a tree. Some quick Googling led us to surmise that due to his young age, he'd likely lost his mother and without help probably wouldn't survive for very long.
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville was closed by the time we'd figured that out – it's open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. – so my wife donned gloves and lifted it into a box filled with blankets to stay overnight in our garage (which I pronounced "gah-ridge"). Then, realizing it was a chilly night, we moved it into our warm bathroom.
Friday morning arrived, Merle was still alive and cute as hell. We fed it some distilled sugar water and he had a nibble on some raspberry.
After dropping the kids at preschool I was off to Roseville, meeting two other early arrivals outside the WRC who had brought with them an injured squirrel (aww) and an injured baby rabbit (aww x 2).
A very kind lady behind the front desk asked me to fill out a form, I made a donation, and Merle was carefully transferred to a shoebox and out of my life forever.
Some have called me a hero. Oh, I don't know about that. I'm just a guy, married to a gal who rescued a squirrel and kept it warm, who then drove it to an animal rescue shelter the next day. Is it heroic to care? I'll leave that up to you.
All I know is that squirrel was in our charge for a little over 12 hours and in that time the little, flea-ridden, sweet angel baby had somehow stolen our hearts, because apparently, with two toddlers, two cats, two full-time jobs, and endless bills, we're sadists for responsibility.
We'll be keeping in touch with the WRC to see how he's getting on. We'll never forget you Merle.
(If anyone wants to get in touch with us to tell us we did the wrong thing with Merle, then please don't. We did the best we could and we will not be taking feedback.)
(Addendum: I just want to make it plainly clear that my wife deserves 95% of the credit here, I'm just basking in her reflected glory ... which is a pretty neat description of my life).