Sunday, May 24, 2009

Keepin' on... and a squirrel tale...

What's this? My latest painting? My latest subject? No to all three questions. This little dear is my most recent rescue. Driving back from the plant wholesaler, I spotted the squirrel hunched up on the double yellow lines of the two-lane highway. From her (?) posture, she might've already been dead - they usually are if hit by speeding motorists. But she might possibly be just stunned and about to be finished off by the next busy cell phoning driver swerving over the no-passing lines. Traffic was doing 60-ish so I slowed to look closer, passed and turned around. I parked in an adjacent driveway, grabbed a thick towel and waited an eternity for passing traffic to thin. I ran out and as I scooped her up, saw she was breathing - and that there was blood on the road under her bowed little head. (You can see the affected area on the side of her face in this photo.)

She spent the next few hours wrapped in the towel, shocky and barely moving. The best thing for an animal in shock is dark and quiet - especially when there is no veterinarian available. Later, at home I put her in my still empty collage studio room with bedding and water - and I attempted to give her a tiny bit of Pedialyte to combat dehydration. I still thought she would die at that point.

Two days later, she was scuttling about the small room and eating shelled nuts and apple bits. Her face was terribly swollen on the impact side and I feared she would lose the eye.

By the fifth day she was able to climb into the windowsill. You can see the injured side here, and while the swelling was way down, and the eye improved, she began intermittent circling, and was knuckling on her front paws - clear signs of neurological damage. I feared she'd never be able to be released.

But amazingly, she continued to improve, eating and moving better and better, and by the end of a week I no longer saw her circle or move in an abnormal way. I began to think about releasing her way up on the back of my property, well away from my cats and dogs - and the established squirrel population in my yard. (Squirrels are quite territorial and will fight an interloper.) Problem was, I needed to put her where there were good sources of food or where I could continue feeding her, as she'd have no food buried from the year before nor would she know where to find new sources until she acclimated.

I made two mistakes. One was opening the window, the second was underestimating her desire for freedom!

Glancing out my front door two days ago, I saw a squirrel in the pear tree just outside. That's not unusual in the early morning, as they come to grab a few bits from the bird feeders. But it wasn't early morning - and something about this squirrel was "off" a bit. I thought it must be checking out "my" squirrel lady who likes to sit in the windowsill not eight feet from the tree. I went outside and looked over at the window - and there was the freshly chewed hole of escape. The squirrel in the tree was my little rescuee.

I rounded up all the cats and Freda (a notorious squirrel-chaser) and then watched as my former charge explored the pear tree, then ran to the very large oak across the driveway. Keep in mind, I had never tried to tame or handle her (more than necessary for Rx) so I was happy to see she was moving away from me and the house.
She stayed in the oak for some time, and I made sure she watched me place food (nuts and slices of apple) for her to eat or store away. Each morning I replenish the supply - and though I've not actually recognized her(she has some fur missing from part of her tail), someone is gnawing open the nuts and taking the apples. I've not heard any squirrels quarreling, either, so for now I'm assuming she's doing fine out in the big world. At least she'll not run the risk of highways and speeding autos here.

And some great news!!!

I sold one of my large paintings at the Sautee-Nacoochee Gallery yesterday!!

Selling paintings is a mixed blessing. I'm so fond of this painting I wish I could keep it - but dang, I sure need the money. I hope the buyer will like it as much as do I.

Blue Yonder, 35 x 36, acrylic on deep cradle panel


Kathi said...

Congratulations on the sale of your painting!
It is beautiful! We've "rescued" several squirrel too. It's so much fun to see them do well and venture off - but not too far!

Roy said...

Great news on the painting. And good for you on the squirrel rescue.

ZenYenta said...

I can understand the mixed feelings. That would be a hard painting to let go of. Congratulations on that and the squirrel rescue. You sure know a lot about treating the animals. Very impressive. You can heal them or paint them or both, as the spirit moves.

Patrice said...

Thank you Kathi, Roy and Zen...

I'm always surprised to learn how many folks think squirrels are rats... They'd be surprised to know how gentle and tolerant they can be - and clean! They wash constantly.

And Zen - I was a vet-tech for several years as well as being a critter lover.

Sheila said...

Wow what a sweetheart you are for nursing that sweet squirrel. Congrats on the painting sale. So good to hear such positive news these days!

Paintings by Irit Bourla said...

congratulation on the painting sale. This is a great news.
I love the story about the lucky squirrel and the good angle.

DJ said...

I feel better: I always make my understanding hubby stop the car, so I can move a wayward turtle several yards back into the woods pointing away from traffic.
And we won't talk about the injuries from scaling a six foot fence to cut low overgrown limbs out of a negligent neighbor's blind dog's eyes...
From one animal rescuer to another: WELL DONE!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your sale...and what a wonderful rescue story!

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