I've always adored squirrels.

As a little kid, I used to spend time sitting with an older neighbor on a bench watching their playfulness and he used to feed them.

All my life, seeing their fluffy tails used like a balancing rod on power wires or leaping from branch to trunk or their wild runs, dancing frolics and hairpin turns or ability to stand completely still for long moments, their happy chirping from above, communicating their displeasure when we'd stray too close to where their constant busyness in gathering supplies was going on - and so many more fun things, like rescuing little ones in my lifetime. Squirrels have so enriched my life that I cannot fathom anyone who does not love them as I do.

I was so amazed when I had gone to school in New York to find out that some people are less than enamored about squirrels.

It still amazes me.

Piquant, inquisitive, marvelously agile and acrobatic, I get great joy every day watching them do high-wire tricks over streets while I sit at street lights. Their antics engage my heart and make what - without them and the birds I also watch while waiting for lights to change - would be dreary outings into splendid occasions to enjoy wildlife.

I always drive the speed limit. Not really because of getting tickets, although that's certainly a detriment to speeding, but because I love animals, including insects.

The only chance many of them have to get across a street safely is people driving the speed limit.

On a street just this week, I have rescued on a lonely highway an enormous tortoise who otherwise might have not fared well - by stopping my car where he was crossing and waving others to stop - a rabbit by slowing down, and several gorgeous, glorious butterflies - all by merely caring enough to put my foot on the brake.

Today, I drove on what should have been a very quiet beach road where the posted limit is thirty miles an hour. I had seen no others driving even close to that as they hurried about their own tasks - menial, not life-and-death chores. It's a Sunday, and no one needs to be on time.

As I approached the place where I was going to turn, I saw two tragic scenes - two squirrles dead within 200 feet of each other on opposite sides of this seldom-traveled, should-be-quiet residential street.

The one on my side, a scene I will never forget, was so poignant and so terribly sad, that I only recall three other in the other-than-human animal kingdom before this in my life: the smaller, female squirrel was at the side of her dead mate, licking his face, touching him with both hands, and even tugging at his ears to revive him and to get him to safety. This went on for moments, and, having already taken a tissue and pulled the other to the grassy part at the side of the road, I went slowly toward the couple, and she stayed until I was a foot away, still frantically attempting everything she could to wake him up. She finally, at the last moment, flitted away to a nearby tree - to their tree, no doubt - and watched me as I tenderly picked his body up and moved it from the side of the road to a grassy knoll where she would be safe as she tended him and grieved.

I had so often seen them playing on this same street, and had playfully fussed at them, admonishing them to steer clear of the street, and only yesterday at that same spot had delighted in their beautiful forms as they raced and played among the trees.

Other scenes like this include elephants from documentaries who tend their dead and try to wake them and loathe to leave them, mournfully. And in my own household, one of my little rescued mice had pulled his dead pal onto his lap and was licking him and trying with all his might to enliven him, then, months later, having had a beloved dog die, another rescue (naturally, any kind person would always rescue needy pets and would NEVER buy from stores or breeders), his sister dog with whom he had been very close was lying beside him, her arm over his body, licking his face, attempting, once again, as with all of us who love and lose someone dear, to get him to live again.

This love and devotion is certainly shared by all of our fellow animals.

Squirrels have always been a rich source of pleasure in my life, and recently,

I had fallen in love with a little crippled fellow who lived in a tree just outside his paradise - a salad bar - and he would meet and greet people as they went in or came out, cheerfully, begging a little probably, and was an adorable character.

Although I lobbied for him, spoke to management about how great a promotional guy he was for their establishment, someone else I suppose - someone from those weird areas where they think of squirrels as something less than wonderful had complained.

WHy is it that now even one grumpy old creep who hates life, joy, and God Himself can complain and all of us who love Nature and happy little beings like squirrels are silent about it?

Is it the evil insurance companies who fear that someone might claim whatever?

This world needs to be allied - all those in favor of wildlife and kindness need to become more vocal.

At another location, a market, I also used to adore watching the plentiful numbers of happy little squirrels playing among the oak trees. Now, since the "animal control" was called on the complaint of one disgusting crabby life-hating human, they are gone, and the millions of juicy acorns are merely lying there, rotting, during this - the most busy season for squirrels and chipmunks, who need to gather food in for the winter.

It's a tragedy - an everyday tragedy - both of these - that we can fix.

We can choose to go slowly, to brake for little beings.

We can tell management at places we frequent that we LIKE to see squirrels in the parking lot in the trees.

And we can tell others to respect our wishes that everyone take care of our "everyday wildlife".

They are truly precious.

Pet Stories