Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Fallen Soldier: The obituary of a baby squirrel

It's a sad day indeed.  I regret to report that Little Soldier Boy is no longer with us.  No one saw it coming.  [To get the full effect, hit play below before you read on.]

Soldier Boy by The Shirelles on Grooveshark

He was such a cool little guy, so full of life.  He bonded with Riki and me almost instantly.  He always had to be touching one of us.  It was almost like having a parrot.  The little dude was always perched up on my shoulder peering out over the world from 6 feet up.  I guess it was the closest thing he had to a tree.  You'd try to put him down on the couch or table and he squirm right back up your arm.

He was cool because he was cool with us.  He loved us, he really did.  He didn't deserve to die.

I'm sure you're wondering what happened, so here it is:  Everything was going great.  He was eating like a king, staying hydrated and clean, being played with and loved by everyone who met him.  We built him a mansion out of cardboard and blankets.  He never met a raisin he didn't like.  He was lovin' life.

Every blog we read stressed the importance of calcium.  Feed him calcium or he will die.  So we did.  We warmed up some milk and fed it to him.  He grabbed the spoon with both hands and downed it.  He loved it. 

About three hours later he was completely unresponsive and barely breathing.  My theory was he was in a milk coma.  You know how you get after a huge milk shake or you try to down a gallon of feel like your stomach's about to explode.  We put him back in his crib to wait it out.

A few hours later he was worse.  We called a local vet and explained the situation and what we'd been feeding it.

"Milk?  Like cow's milk?" the lady asked.
"Yep, out of a carton."
"Hmmmmmmmmm...well, it probably won't make it.  Just let it rest and rub it's stomach, hopefully it will be alright in the morning."

False hope. Little Soldier Boy stopped breathing in my hands shortly thereafter.  Tried to rub him and squeeze him and get him going again, but nothing.  Turns out squirrels (and a lot of other creatures) can't digest cow's milk for some reason.  Might as well have given him rat poison.

We happened to be a the beach a the time, and we gave him an epic farewell.  He's now buried in the white crystal sandy beaches of Pensacola, Florida.  Not a bad place to spend eternity.  And on the bright side, he's now reunited with his little brother.

In the grand scheme of this thing we call life, it's still just a little squirrel.  Family pets die everyday.  People die everyday.  Real soldiers die everyday.  It's certainly not the end of the world.  But I still feel very bad that I killed the poor guy, even if it was with a spoon full of milk.  I'd be lying if I said that I, and everyone else that met the Little Soldier Boy, weren't changed in some way during our brief time together.  He was an awesome little dude that brought out the best in everyone.  We are all better people for having loved him.

Rest in peace Little Soldier Boy, rest in peace.
July 2012 - September 2012

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