• Dana Webster

Snow White - My Alter Ego

Updated: Mar 8

Squirrels live in our house. We did not invite them. But, clearly, we have unwittingly made it comfy enough for them to come and go at their leisure. We know where they are at any given time by the scritching sounds in our walls and up in the attic. Not one of our five cats is a deterrent. Their hunting skills peak at mice and houseflies. We've been told to get rid of the bird feeder in our backyard but you know how I feel about my birds. We've had a lovely pest control father and son team come in, twice, and rescue squirrel families trapped inside our sloped kitchen ceiling. I've made it clear that no killing, maiming or poisoning of animal "pests" is allowed. So, they get rescued or otherwise locked out only to find their way back in again. All of which leads me to ponder: What exactly is our responsibility as human beings to the rest of Mother Nature's critters? And, in particular, what to do when the outside ones find their way inside where they are clearly not welcome. I'm talking all manner of insects, mice, squirrels, bats, and sundry. On a couple of occasions, chipmunks have found their way in, only to be scared out of their wits when they find themselves stalked--prey to come-out-and-play cats. Those were really tricky to trap and release.

If I had it my way, in an utterly ideal world, I'd be all Snow White in the forest with her animals. Only we'd all be living happily ever after in my house. Unfortunately, there is nothing symbiotic about having squirrels in the attic. Whilst we provide them with food (bird feeder) and shelter, they bring absolutely nothing to the table. It could be argued that as humans we live a life of privilege, our survival needs are well taken care of with housing and numerous options for stocking the larder. Does this mean we have an obligation to share with Nature's other living beings who, let's face it, are ALL about survival? Why wouldn't we make it easier for them by sharing our resources? My compassionate heart has an abiding love for all disadvantaged beings and a felt responsibility to protect and provide for them. I'm actually okay with a few squirrels in the house. I don't know if they are doing damage; given that I would never, ever venture up to what I can only imagine is our spider-infested attic, I will never see first-hand what trouble they are causing. But I'd have to draw the line at things like snakes, skunks, and other kinds of scary and thoroughly feral critters. Why anyone would deliberately spend money at the pet store on housing snakes, lizards or, god save us, tarantulas is beyond my comprehension. Those belong outside, period, no exceptions. Ditto birds in a cage.

I do have a particular phobia of spiders. I come by it honestly (some day I'll tell you that story) and have spent a considerable amount of time trying to "get over it". Hahaha! Does that sound as absurd to you as it does to me? I had a lovely client who, for some reason, attracted spiders (and bumblebees!) so whenever she visited, inevitably a big, black, hairy spider would appear (I may have exaggerated a bit there). As a result, she kindly fashioned for me a trapping cup to keep in my office so that she had something in which to catch them and put them outside. I could never get that close to a spider -what if it got out?? - but I do keep the cup on hand to ward them off. Whenever Paul and I drive past a country field where cows or horses or goats or sheep or llamas (you get the point) are pasturing, I pout and say, "Paul, I don't have any cows. How come I can't have cows?" Because I want all the animals! I fantasize about coming upon a deer or a wolf in the forest, offering my hand in friendship, and having it come to me all docile and trusting. As the fantasy continues, they follow me home, hang out on the back deck awhile, and introduce me to their new babies in spring. Why is this not a thing? My love of animals does extend to human beings. It's one reason Paul has agreed to so many cats. He knows that I am quite capable of bringing home stray children who need love and affection. If it weren't for the cats, there's every possibility our house would be full to bursting with orphaned youngsters. Marriage is a compromise, if nothing else.

Which brings us back to the sheltering squirrels. Paul has called our wildlife rescue team yet again to rid our house of the interlopers. We all know they'll be back. And I'm okay with that. Like what you've read? Please consider subscribing!

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