The Sad Saga of Spirit Squirrel™

Read Part One: “Spirit Squirrel™ is Back”
Read Part Two: “More Adventures of Spirit Squirrel™”

“Hello, there’s a sick squirrel slowly walking around my yard. His tail is dragging. He doesn’t look right.  He’s all squinty. He’s not bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Now he’s reclining under a rose bush. Can you please come and rescue him? “

squirrelRIPSitting on a comfy boat cushion with a garden spade in my hand, I was in a state of Zen transplanting clary sage seedlings in the rear part of our yard. A lovely day; quiet except for the crows, I see out of the corner of my eye  — less than a foot away from my hand — something that doesn’t look like a plant, but it’s not moving. At the exact moment my brain registers that it’s a squirrel, I can tell there’s something really, really wrong with it. Here in SoCal, we’re used to ground squirrels digging holes in our yard, eating bird seed, and being annoying. They always run away when a human’s around. But not this poor little guy.

What are you supposed to do when you find a sick adult squirrel?

Now we’ll proceed to commence the frustrating and annoying round of telephone calls to useless govenrmental agencies who pass you on and on like a game of “Hot Potato”.

“No” says the City of Carlsbad Environmental Services,
“We don’t do that”. “You should call Animal Control.”

Nope, San Diego County Animal Control can’t do anything either, but they say that because it could possibly have or carry the bubonic plague, I should call the County of San Diego Vector Control. Vector Control specialist Chris informs me with a chuckle that only the squirrels on Palomar Mountain test posiitve for the plague and it’s impossible this one has the plague, maybe he “ate some bad food”  but they won’t help this little critter.

“Let Mother Nature take its course”, he says.

When I tell him that, as a compassionate animal advocate, I’m having a hard time grasping that concept, and while I’m at it, I’m wondering what exactly it is that Vector Control does,…he suggests I try to call Project Wildlife — but, he cautions, I shouldn’t get my hopes up because squirrels don’t rate very highly on their list of animals they like to rescue. However, if I could trap it in a box and bring it to them, they would have to accept it.

If you can’t picture me somehow trapping a potentially extremely sick animal and putting it in my car and driving it to Project Wildlife, that’s because it would never happen in a zillion years. A bird, yes; a dog, cat, coyote, bobcat even, but not a squirrel or a rat or a racoon that’s listlessly walking around in circles with squinty eyes.

Isn’t that what these city/county agencies are for? Isn’t that why we pay taxes?

I called Chris back, unwilling to believe that he can’t see the potential public harm from a squirrel that is obviously not acting like a normal squirrel, and he suggests that I “get a family member or a neighbor to put it out of its misery or just wait until it dies and put it in the trash.”

I hung up before I said anything that could be classified as a threat…..

I ran inside and locked the door and emailed my tugboat man. If ever there was a time when I hated him for being away, this was it. If he had a normal job, he could have left work, driven home, and helped me out. But no….he’s a zillion miles away. Here’s the email:email

Amazingly, he called while I was keeping an eye on the sicky squirrel with a pair of binoculars. He suggested that I get the hose out and gently sprinkle it in the general direction of the squirrel to guide it away. While I was on the cell with him, I turned on the water, and with hubs encouragement, sprayed near the squirrel. Oh NO, that was the wrong thing to do!


Instead of running up the hill and hopefully back to his den, he began to walk straight AT ME. I’m screaming in hubs ear and running around in circles and swearing at him and telling him to get on the first goddamn flight to do his job as a husband and protect me from being attacked by a wild animal — and he says,

“No, I cannot do that, Rosebud. I cannot tell the company that my wife is being traumatized by a ground squirrel and I need to have the United States Coast Guard fly me home.” “Good luck with that, ‘cos that’s not gonna happen. That’s not what we consider an emergency.”
NOTE: He really said CANNOT and not the informal can’t.

Well, thanks a whole lot, Master Captain Butthead. I won’t forget how you abandoned me in my time of need.

If you want to know what it’s like to be the wife of a tugboat captain, this is a fairly accurate scenario.

After we hung up, I called a few exterminators and no one seemed interested in humanely trapping the little guy.

Finally, I went next door and told my neighbor about this situation because they always have grandkids around and asked him if he wanted to come over and take a look at it.
He came over and kind of shooed it with a broom under the fence into his yard and went back home.

A few minutes later he returned and said it was gone — as in GONE  — as in GONE FOREVER and I owed him a pan of brownies or chocolate chip cookies or something…

I didn’t want details; I’m just glad the little guy isn’t suffering anymore.

And that’s the end of Spirit Squirrel™…. RIP little buddy.
Spirit Squirrel Tombstone

UPDATE: On the news this morning…a segment about squirrels and the plague, referring everyone to the San Diego County Department of Health’s News Release.

Campers and Hikers Warned to Take Precautions

P.S. Getting started on those brownies now.

28 thoughts on “The Sad Saga of Spirit Squirrel™

  1. Reminds me of the time our greyhound took on a prawn in our backyard … The only advice I got was catch it and cook it. Not from the Chief but from the guys listening in on our conversation.


  2. Poor little bugger. And you are so right about the city workers. That is a game of hot potato. We had a baby skunk once near our house. The little thing was so scared. Nobody would help. We just left it, and eventually it disappeared. I was sad for days.

    Hope the brownies turn out at least. I am sure they will.


    • I agree, but how sad my neighbor had to do what he did! What if no one around here knew what to do? Either I’d be stuck inside afraid to go out cos of a crazy sick animal or a hawk or owl or cat would attack it and maybe get sick themselves. It should have been handled properly by one of those agencies.

      On Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 10:21 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  3. Poor little squirrel… Er, um, I mean: Poor Princess Rosebud! Having to fend for yourself like that! (Shaking my fist at the Tugboat man!) Glad your neighbor was willing and able to help you (and spirit squirrel) out. Cannot (see what I did there) believe that none of the agencies you called you were willing to help or could at least get you connected with someone who would.
    When the queen and I were first dating, and I was still living in San Diego, we went for a moonlight walk down at Mission Beach (my absolute favorite beach), and we noticed something washing up on shore and then rolling back out with the tide. It was a dead seal (I think, it was pretty swollen and nearly unrecognizable as anything beyond a blob). On our way back to my car we came across some police officers doing a sweep of the parking lots and I ventured over and told them about it in case they wanted to remove it before … well, I’m not really sure before what, but it didn’t seem like something they would just want to leave out on the beach. The cops were not interested, didn’t care to pass it along to any agency that might be interested, and couldn’t even suggest who else we should tell. Awesome.


    • Giggle away! The poor dear and poor me for thinking I could call the city and they’d come over and rescue this creature. Now we’ve got worse problems…some neighbors had a million gophers and they didn’t do anything, now they have moved into our yard and I can’t do anything til tugman comes home. geez, i love animals and all but this is CRAZY! No wonder I shop and play with seashells all the time…

      On Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 4:05 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  4. So sorry the spirit squirrel died. We had a squirrel who camped out in our garage when we lived just outside of Edmonton. He ate through wiring, got into the walls of the house, was just generally a pain in the butt! But he was cute when he would scamper along the top of the fence too!


  5. Pingback: Gallimaufry. What’s That? Today’s Confused Hodgepodge. | Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugboat Captain's Wife

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