Returning from our morning walk, Layla and I spotted the cats circling something.
Layla took off to see what the excitement was all about and just how involved she might become in the fray.
As I called her name, she was overcome by the excitement and bounded over to the cats without paying me any attention whatsoever (Yes, we have just completed 12 weeks of puppy training; why do you ask?)
Layla approached the cats and used her paw to nudge the victim.
The victim immediately began making these squeaky noises, which I knew immediately didn't belong to a bird.
We've been down the squirrel rescue route before, so I was in familiar territory at this point and immediately began clearing away all the animals so I could assess the little fella's injuries...
As I moved the cats and Layla inside, my youngest heard all the commotion and came to see how she could help.
We learned during our foster experience with Squeakers that many times the "injured" party is actually better off left to its own devices...and that many times well-meaning humans step in where they shouldn't and mess everything up, so at first we observed the little dude without touching him.
He was moving, and scooched himself under a pile of pine straw with only his tail sticking out :)
He was making an awful lot of noise...a lot more than Squeakers ever made..not "I'm hurt" noises, mind you, but "I'll be *&^&*&&&*##" "Those **&*&%^ cats"! kinds of noises :)
Little buddy was mad!
I could also tell from his tail that he was much older than Squeakers and Whiskers had been when we found them. To me, the already furry tail was another reason to leave him be.
I convinced (or so I thought) my youngest that we would leave the cats inside for the day and that Squirrel with an attitude would regroup and return to his nest or wherever he needed to go, so we went back inside to finish getting ready for work and school.
When I stepped out of the shower, I knew immediately that it was too quiet.
Our house in the mornings is just like those movie scenes where everybody's moving in different directions in fast forward.
Then I heard my youngest calling my name.
When I walked through the kitchen, this is what I saw:
So much for leaving nature alone.
My youngest explained that she simply could not just leave the little guy out there all by himself and then rattled off a long list of things that might happen to him if we did.
No idea where she gets this kind of behavior from.
This was not exactly how I'd hope this day would play out, but I knew once we touched him, we would have to help him.
So, we did.
Little dude with a 'tude got his name changed to Nut Head and then changed again to Nutter Butter.
We purchased a dog crate, another heating pad, snuggled him down with blankets to burrow in and waited the appropriate amount of time before feeding him. The youngest was beside herself, but I kept reminding her that we didn't know how injured he might be on the inside and to not get her hopes up.
You know where this story is going, right?
I knew when we got Nutter Butter out of the box to feed him that this wasn't going to be like last time. I could tell that he was already less active, sleepy eyes, less mumbling and grumbling than before, and he bit my youngest just for the heck of it. The bite itself didn't hurt, but it should have.
I began preparing her for what I knew was happening.
My youngest held out hope that the formula would be the magic potion that would cure all Nutter Butter's ills.
We put him back in his box, and I told her that we would check on him every hour after that, but we needed to let him rest in the warm covers of his box.
Each hour Nutter Butter moved slower and slower...his breathing became heavier, and finally he just laid there. Each hour I reported the same sad news to the hopeful eyes of my youngest and finally had to tell her that he was gone.
My youngest became hysterical and cried for her Nutter Butter, who she'd known less than 48 hours, but to her it was a lifetime.
All I could do was sit and hold her...and let her cry.
I reminded her that Nutter Butter was in God's trees now, and that there are plenty of acorns in Heaven.
I told her she rescued him and allowed him to die in peace in a warm bed with a full tummy of delicious milk...and that that was a good thing.
The Head of My Household dug Nutter Butter's little grave the next morning, and we all said good-bye.
One of the hardest things to realize when you're a parent is that you can't fix everything.
While I wish I could spare them hurt of all kinds, I'm proud that each of them has a respect for the creatures of the Earth and wants to help whenever they can and sometimes that includes pain. I guess a part of parenting is to help them learn to deal with the pain of loss...and to love others without fear of that pain.
And, that sometimes loving something means you have to let it go...as it was with our Squeakers.
I thank God everyday for my children, their pure hearts and the love they give freely...and I also thank God for the animals He's brought into our lives and the intelligence He gives us to learn how to take care of ourselves and the animals of His world...and when to leave things be.
I am blessed.
Children's Sunday was this past Sunday and one of our soloist sang this song...it's one of my favorites by the Carpenters and so very appropriate for little Nutter Butter.