The Squirrel Who Died Of Natural CausesPosted: December 5, 2011
On Friday, I pulled out of my driveway and headed down the street. As I reached the edge of the driveway of a house across the street, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye and hit the brakes. It was a squirrel, right at the edge of the road, at the corner of that driveway. I stopped in time to avoid hitting it, then looked to see where it went.
The squirrel hadn’t gone anywhere. He was dead. I didn’t hit him with my car, there wasn’t a mark on him. He was already long gone by the time I spotted him.
Now, I didn’t get out and check for a pulse. I don’t know if the squirrel had rigor mortis, I didn’t check his lividity or temperature. Some things you just know. Squirrels aren’t usually that still.
A Historic First
I know that most of you don’t come here to hear about dead squirrels. But I bring this particular squirrel up because he is unique among squirrels. You see, his sort usually passes on due to some misadventure.
Predators eliminate some squirrels. Cars get their share. Sometimes a squirrel hits a bare electrical wire. I imagine that, once in a while, a squirrel loses his footing in a tree and perishes in a tragic accident.
None of those things happened to this squirrel. This particular tree rodent, we’ll call him Ozzie, did not meet a violent end. It appears he just was walking along and gave up the ghost. He was literally dead on his feet. He looked like he could dart across the road at any moment, but he didn’t. He is the first squirrel ever to die of natural causes.
When I spotted him, Ozzie was standing there as if he were about to cross the street. That was on Friday. It is now Monday. He is still there, right at the edge of my neighbor’s driveway.
So What’s My Point?
Ozzie has stood, motionless, at the corner of that driveway for days. I know the people who live in that house have seen him there. Their kids have played in the driveway. They have run past Ozzie. He has not run away. He clearly is dead. But they have not moved him to his final resting place.
How can they do this? It isn’t a matter of being humane, poor Ozzie is already gone. But it would only be right for them to remove him and put him somewhere more appropriate than the end of their driveway. But there he stood this morning as I left for work, on post like a sentry, but unable to act on anything.
I’m considering just going over and addressing the matter myself. Ozzie deserves better. He is not going to bury himself.
Sure, he spent his life as a simple nut gatherer, but that was his role. He filled that role well. He was in the midst of filling his role when he was struck down by a squirrel aneurism or squirrel cardiac arrest. Because he passed away in the driveway of people who choose to ignore his demise, this squirrel has been denied a simple measure of dignity.
There are other things I could do. I could slip a note into their mailbox. “Nice squirrel”, I’d write, “please help him go home.” That would be a nice way to go about it. I could also put a little sign over Ozzie with a message to local vultures. That’d be a little more humiliating to the neighbors. I really don’t want to embarrass them, but for Ozzie, I’ll do it. It is just the right thing to do.
Ozzie the squirrel led a full life. Perhaps my neighbors will find it in their heart to honor his life and achievements. He deserves better than this posthumous job as a watch squirrel.