Is it silly to cry over a squirrel?

Dear sisters,

We were out for our Saturday morning family walk around the Capitol complex when Takk was distracted by something. We tried to keep walking, brushing it off as his usual weirdness, but then realized that he was in fact looking at a little furry critter.

It turns out that it was a young squirrel, not a tiny baby, but not fully grown, that had fallen from a tree onto the sidewalk. We hoped that the squirrel was just startled by the fall and by Takk’s antics and would climb back up if we left it alone. We continued walking, planning to check in when we got back to that spot.

Honestly, I spent the next mile making plans for my new life with a pet squirrel. As you do.

Phil’s vet tech skills and the wonderful vets at the clinic would fix the little squirrel up. Obviously, Fry would cuddle the little squirrel, and it could snuggle up in all my scarves, and Takk would try to play with it. I was completely prepared to be the crazy squirrel lady.

As we reached the spot again on our walk, we couldn’t see the little squirrel and assumed that all had worked out for the best. But as I crossed the street to be sure, I found that it was there on the sidewalk, still breathing, but not well. We made a few attempts to reach a local Fish, Wildlife, and Parks rehab center, but weren’t successful. Of course, the odds of them making a trip for a little squirrel were slim.

As a magpie hopped over and pecked at the little squirrel’s tail, we knew that the kindest option would be taking it to the vet to be euthanized. We found a box in my car and gently slid the squirrel into it. It squeaked in pain and fear as I tried to ease it all the way in. Both back legs appeared to be broken. Another squirrel chattered at us from a nearby tree.

I closed the box and walked towards the car… and started crying. I wish I could have explained to the other squirrel where we were taking this one, probably her baby. I wish I could have told the little squirrel not to be scared.

We took the squirrel to the vet clinic where Phil works, and the doctor working today took a look and agreed that it was best to put it to sleep.

My heart hurts. I know it’s just a little squirrel. I know that this is how nature works. But for a minute, I had a dream of a perfect world where every little furry creature gets to live a wonderful, happy life… and maybe we all get to, too.

Rest in peace, little squirrel. You were loved, ever so briefly, and hopefully made your exit quickly and without much pain. I guess that’s all we can really ask for.

Wishing life was fair,

Abby

 

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life on call

Sisters,

As you know, Phil is a veterinary technician. This career is another bullet point on his amazing and varied resume of metal fabricator, hog farm employee, summer camp maintenance guy, nonprofit assistant director, hardware store manager, community mental health mentor, special education paraprofessional, Lowe’s sales associate, baseball concessions hawker, and Indian Education tutor. He has attempted (and excelled at) so many different things. But veterinary care? The man is especially brilliant.

We have long known that Phil knows things. He just does. He knows things about things. Maybe that’s why he’s so good at so many jobs. But above all, Phil knows dogs. He is my dog whisperer. Seriously, he’s magical. He must be part dog. Or maybe he was a dog in a past life. It makes me a little jealous, because our dogs at home always love him, not more, but just a little differently than they love me. It’s this special deeper bond.

Maggie destroyed some of the first things I moved into Phil’s house before we got married. She was my dearest dog, my therapist, my best friend… but she was Phil’s best friend first and loved him as such.

 

wp-1475382624125.pngPhil and Takk are bros. We used to have this big chair and ottoman, and Takk would climb up there when Phil was sitting in the chair. We called it Chair Club for Men. Nothing makes my Buddy Buddy happier than hanging out with his pal Phil.

Fry is my dog. She really is. She is my baby. We cuddle in bed at night, especially when I’m a sucker and let her under the covers. And still, she has this different love and respect for Phil. In some bizarre scenario where she was forced to make a choice, I can’t help but think that she would choose Phil. She’d follow him to the ends of the earth.

Last spring, we visited Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah. It is our happy place and this was our second visit. While Phil’s mom and I visited all sorts of animal areas- cats, bunnies, puppies- Phil stayed in Dogtown. One day, he was invited to work with Eeyore. The caregivers informed Phil that Eeyore wasn’t going to like him: Eeyore was terrified of beards, glasses, and hats. Phil was the trifecta, so you can guess how Eeyore responded.

Yeah, he obviously didn’t mind Phil at all. Because dog whisperer. #justphilthings

Phil tells me time and time again of dogs at the vet clinic who are supposedly scared of men. Phil can almost always handle them without trouble. He has become the go-to employee for handling challenging dogs. A big highly strung dog that used to take a team to accomplish a nail trim? Phil can trim those nails by himself now.

Phil has recently been added to the weekend on call schedule at the clinic, which means he is responsible for Saturday morning appointments, lunchtime and evening medical treatments on Saturday and Sunday, and may be called in at any time during off hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for medical emergencies.

I am wrapping up this post at 10:30 on Saturday night. Phil was called in an hour or so ago. Just got the text that another call is coming in, so he’ll be there for awhile. I must confess, this on call schedule thing is new for me. It’s weird. It’s an adjustment. Phil has always been the living embodiment of “early to bed, early to rise,” so it’s odd for him to stay up late just in case (a little superstition from one of the doctors… if you can make it to ten o’clock, you’re in the clear).

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Tonight, as Phil left, he apologized for going. This bothered me. Yup, him being on call is weird. It’ll take a bit for me to adjust. I’ll never be a big fan of him leaving in the middle of the night. I’ll always worry about him being rested enough. In all fairness though, I’m not sure he’ll ever be a fan of leaving in the middle of the night either. But he is good at his job, and I never want him to apologize for that. So these sleepy dogs and I will make the best of it.

We’ll leave the light on for you,

Abby