Header image: Learning Life's Lessons from Squirrels!
November 2, 2019

I recently had to visit the cemetery and it really got me thinking. Oh, not in the way you might think. It wasn’t a funeral or to visit the grave of a loved one.

No, I was “relocating” a squirrel from my property.

You see, “relocating” the little critters is my new way of dealing with the damage they do.

They chew on sprinkler heads. They have the annoying habit of “planting” seeds in the landscape beds, resulting in clumps of weeds growing in my nicely manicured beds. More dangerously though is that they dig holes under the shop and near the electrical lines. 

I have quite the history of escapades with the squirrels who seem to have adopted my yard as their own oasis. If you read my last book, “Single and Sixty,” you’ll remember that there’s a whole chapter on my adventures in dealing with these little boogers!

Now, it’s gone even further. These little nuisances have gone so far as to teach me some poignant lessons about life.

When I first noticed them sunbathing on the rocks behind my pool, I thought they were cute! Then I noticed all the damage they were doing, so I started catching them.

My neighbor suggested disposing of them in a way that had the same casual manner some people use their foot to smash a spider.

Ugh! I quickly decided that I had to learn to take care of things myself but I didn’t have the heart to kill them so I began looking for other solutions. 

That’s when I started catching them and relocating them to the nearby cemetery. It’s a much nicer home for squirrels and they have plenty of friends already there. It’s peaceful and no one will bother them.

It just didn’t seem right to kill something because I didn’t like them and because they were bothering me.

I decided that the lesson was that it is not up to us to decide who lives and who dies. Better to leave that decision to God or your higher power.

Photo of a squirrel to illustrate that it's not up to us to decide who gets to live or not.

This summer they seemed to have multiplied. I was seeing them and their damage every day.

I knew it was time to get out the squirrel trapping cages. My first goal was to catch the one in the backyard, so I carefully set up the cage near my chaise lounge by the pool; set the bait and waited. And waited. 

A few days later I saw that the cage had moved but didn’t realize what that meant.

The next day, my son came over and said, “There’s a squirrel in the cage.”

I went and looked behind the beach ball where the cage now was and noticed a very dead squirrel.

“Oh, no,” I thought.

Killing him was definitely not my intent, but it had been well over 100 degrees and no water was in the cage. I had thought about it, but both the water and the seed wouldn’t fit, so I opted for the seed.

When I saw the blood smeared on the concrete where the poor little critter had leaped around in vain trying to get out of the cage, moving it a good ten feet away into the grass, I knew he had suffered badly.

I was overcome with grief, vowing not to do that again!

Killing another creature just didn’t sit well with me.

But how to catch and release the little creatures without hurting them?

I went back to the hardware store where they suggested smoke bombs or poison, neither which were encouraging.

But they did have a super-duper, extra large cage that was guaranteed to work. And it was “only” $60.

“Yikes,” was my thought!

Then, at the register I learned it was not $60, but $70. I relented and thought sometimes you have to pay more to do the right thing and I definitely didn’t want to kill another squirrel.

The new cage worked! The first day I used it, I caught a squirrel. The dog alerted me by her constant barking.

The squirrel looked terrified, so I took the dog away and put her in the backyard while I finished my lunch, thinking it’s not hot, the squirrel will be fine for a few minutes.

When I returned the poor thing was laying still, exhausted and near death. I sprinkled him with a hose, to try to revive him. His eyes moved but that was it.

When I dropped him off at his new home, I had to pull him out by his tail and hope for the best.

There was another lesson. You’ve got to take care of the important stuff right away or it causes more serious problems. (i.e. my guilt for assisting in the demise of yet another squirrel, not to mention the effect on the squirrel.)

Image of a squirrel. The lesson is that you have to take care of the important stuff right away.

The next day, another squirrel was in the cage. I moved the dog and hurriedly ate my breakfast. I opened the rear of my car so I could retrieve the cage shortly and make a quick getaway. Unfortunately, after I locked up the house and got in the car and backed out of the garage…

Boom! I screamed when I remembered the tailgate was still up and had just hit the top of the garage door. Dang, now I have a car repair PLUS dealing with the critter.

Another new lesson in staying present so you remember what you did five minutes before or you will be abruptly reminded.

Image of a squirrel, very focused. Lesson is to stay present.

Wearing gloves, I then put the cage in the back of my car. Admittedly, I was not in the best of moods, so I sort of threw it in the car.

Big mistake!

Somehow the squirrel got out and was now running around in my car! I screamed again! The squirrel squealed at me. I jumped back and he managed to get out and run away.

Well, at least he saved me a trip to the cemetery.

I learned that you can’t your emotions get the best of you.

Image of a squirrel illustrating lesson 4: don't let emotions get the best of you.

So, this morning when I caught yet another squirrel, I was determined to finally do it right!

I moved the dog, and without pausing for anything else, I loaded up the squirrel and took him to his new home.

This time I slowed down and saw the right way to secure and unsecure all the latches on the cage, so I was able to release him upon arrival.

He leapt out of the cage in joy! I’m sure he was thankful he was out of that damn cage and on to his new life with his new friends in a beautiful setting even larger than my yard.

I was left with a great deal of satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment in finally doing it right for everyone. 

Perseverance, although difficult at times, does pay off!

A squirrel eating food to show that persistence pays off!

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