Little, furry, soft, cute, completely unafraid of people, squirrel. A baby (less than a year old), at that. And pretty much touchably tame. It wasn't sick - no sign of any problems - bright-eyed, inquisitive, and clearly hoping for snax.
I guess people had been feeding it.
So, I went back out with a box and an old cardigan, and went to find it. It was curled up at the bottom of a tree in the roots, half under the leaves, looking heart-breakingly sad. I crouched down next to it, it sat up, came towards me, I held out the cardigan, and made to scoop it up, and it half-climbed into the cardigan. Not afraid at all. I put it in the box, closed the lid (big roomy box, air holes), and fought with all my might the idea of getting it a cage and keeping it for a pet.
I love animals. I worry about sick ones, I want to help ones in trouble, and I love wild animals most of all. But a wild animal that is unafraid of people and cannot climb trees like it is supposed to is vulnerable to traffic, predator animals (there are stray cats on the base, and at least one big raccoon), and people. Especially people. In winter, a squirrel that can't climb and build a nest will freeze to death.
And this little sucker was so damned cute.
I resisted, much to Bob's later relief, and took "Fluffy" to the Columbia Animal Shelter, to see if they knew of a wildlife rehabilitator (they did). Fluffy might not ever be able to be released (the paw is a problem), but at least he'd be cared for, fed, and protected. So, I put the box in the car, and started talking - then singing. Every time I stopped, there was a restless scratching from the box, so I kept singing all the way up to the sanctuary.
I sang every song I knew, some twice. Then I hummed and made up tunes. When I got there, Fluffy was curled up asleep in the box, with his tail wrapped around his nose. He didn't seem in the least put out by his journey - he sat up, alert, interested, and completely unafraid.
Damn, I want a tame squirrel.
Of course, the sanctuary is the best place for him - wild animals are never meant to be pets, and squirrels can get aggressive if frightened (and Fluffy would be re-named "Bitey"). They get ringworm, distemper, parasites, and other nasty things. People don't know how to take care of them properly, and they suffer when they're no longer little and cute. They can't be re-released, because they no longer know (or never learned) how to fend for themselves. And who wants to live in a little cage in an apartment all their life?
I'm firmly against trapping wild animals for pets, including turtles. It disrupts the ecosystem, harms the animal, and can introduce diseases into the house. I prefer to admire things going about their merry way without human interference.
But damn, I want a little tame squirrel that likes to listen to me sing, and will let me pet his head and snuggles quietly in my arms.