Student saves squirrel, makes lifelong furry friend

Briana Fleming, staff writer

Pets are a treasure to humanity. They are lovely furry companions who you get to care, love, nurture, and bond with whenever and however. Sometimes when you first meet your furry friend, whether in a shelter or a pet store, there’s an automatic “click”, and you decide that they are yours. Yet, what if you met your pet by fate, chance, or completely rescuing them with your bare hands, or maybe just a sweatshirt in this case?

Senior, Lily Claire Shuffield was enjoying her lunch outside one sunny afternoon when there was a disturbance near her. One student was messing with a baby squirrel that seemed to be comfortable coming to him. This struck Lily as odd so she went over to check out what was happening and asked the boy where he found the squirrel.

“It wasn’t by any trees or anything. The mom wasn’t anywhere near (if it was then, obviously, we wouldn’t be able to touch it),” Lily said, “I asked for my sweatshirt, but no one got [the sweatshirt], and the kid grabbed it and brought it to a tree where people crowded around it.”

Knowing that this was stressful for the squirrel she walked over to get her backpack and picked up the squirrel with her sweatshirt. Mr. McGee asked her if she was sure she wanted to do that because that meant the mom wouldn’t come back. She knew that was only for birds, and that the squirrel’s mother would not be coming back again.

“I picked him up and he started crawling all over me (to get near me). I put him in the sweatshirt and we walked to this tree over by the Wellness Center and tried to put him on the tree to see if he could climb up. That’s when we realized one of his legs didn’t work,” she said.

Thinking that the squirrel’s leg was broken Lily called Wildlife Rehab to pick up the squirrel, but to their dismay no one picked up. Mr. McGee then escorted Lily to the environmental teacher’s rooms in the pit, whom they believed could be of some help.

“We went downstairs, and Ms. Snodgrass was in the middle of a class and I walked in with the sweatshirt and was like ‘I have a baby squirrel!’ and she was like ‘what’ and I was like ‘I have a baby squirrel in my sweatshirt right now’ and she was like ‘oh’ and everyone in her class was like ‘what?’” Lily said.

They then continued to call the Wildlife Rehab center but no one was picking up. The teachers in the pit continued to give her valuable advice. They asked her if she wanted to take him home, and she was more than happy to do so. Mr. McGee was trying to see if her parents could pick her up, but they couldn’t come.

“I was freaking out because I didn’t want to be there all day with the squirrel. And, it would probably be really stressful for the squirrel because everyone would want to touch it all the time.” Lily said.

Trying to compose a plan, she realized that her friend, senior John Michael Lee, (who didn’t have a fourth block at the time) was available to drive her home. She texted him on her nearly dead iPhone and, John Michael brought them safely home.

“He was really sleeping a lot the first day because I’m sure he was really tired. And I was kind of worried because he wasn’t doing very much. But we looked up what to do and we got puppy formula and a bottle and helped him get rehydrated and feed him. And not even an hour after that he was up-and-about doing stuff.” she said.

After that, she had to feed him every four hours. She looked up how old he would be and found out that he was four weeks old at the time. Knowing this information helped her know she needed to bottle-feed him. Currently she is trying to get him on solid foods to better his diet as he grows.

“He’s real cute. You have to get used to him crawling all over you,” she said, “Cause he has a hard time balancing because of his leg. We went and got him checked out and his leg isn’t broken, it just doesn’t have any muscle mass. We’re thinking that’s why the mom left him, because he couldn’t keep up.”

Ever since the squirrel has gotten comfortable in his new home, Lily Claire has been playing with the squirrel, she even introduced him to her dog who she says absolutely loves him. Lily Claire says that the squirrel is just now starting to show more of his personality that she describes as calm and vocal. She has not decided on a name for him yet, but she’s looking for some quirky traits to inspire some names for him.

She plans to continue to take care of the squirrel and make him a lifelong pet, and bring him wherever she may go in life. As far as his leg, they plan to wait till he gets bigger and then either amputate it or keep it as it is. The rescued squirrel is quite happy with its new home and will continue to live a long healthy life with his human companion.

(Photo Courtesy of Lilly Suffield)