Dolly had a favorite toy it was a stuffed toy owl. Now the owl didn’t make any sounds or move around or threaten Dolly in any way, and Dolly seemed to feel far superior to the owl. She would walk over and sniff the toy, then she would walk all around it while rubbing her side against it. I understand this is a squirrel’s way of claiming their territory and possessions, by leaving their scent on the item. When Dolly became bolder she would pounce on the owl and attack it from every angle. One time I saw her wrapped around the owl, rolling all over the floor! It was so comical I had to just laugh. I tried to get her picture, but she was rolling around so fast, I couldn’t get a focused shot.
Another natural instinct for a squirrel is to hide their food supply away for future need. Because Dolly Marie was a well-fed squirrel, and really never went hungry, she would hide away a good portion of her daily food rations. As I would move around my office during each work day I would find little “stashes” of nuts everywhere. She would typically hide several nuts behind books in my book cases and in the corner of my window tracks. I found nuts hidden under my desk, behind photos, under chairs, in the shredder, behind the door, behind my computer tower, and even in the base of my silk plant. The silk plant was her favorite hiding place. I bet she had at least a half-pound of nuts hidden away there! Dolly also thought that tall silk plant was her own private trapeze training plant, in case she ever decided to run away to join the circus.
Once Dolly had acquired a taste for wires, there was no holding back! We had been “helping” Dolly get used to the out-of-doors so we could reintroduce her to her natural habitat. Our garage seemed the perfect place to let Dolly stay at night, and to come and go during the day. This worked out very well, for Dolly, no so much for us! One day right after I got home from shopping with my friend Sherry, one of my tires went flat. The next morning Jack and I were going to go get the tire fixed and perhaps have the car serviced. Well the servicing was fine, but the rest of the car wasn’t! We showed the engine to the service manager and he was shocked at the sight! Most of the wires in the engine were frayed, some were severed, and some completely eaten away! He was amazed that I was able to even drive my car for the last couple of weeks. We left the car to get “repaired” and waited at home for him to call us for approval on the charges. I figured we were into it about $500.00, and felt horrible about the cost. The next day was kind of like that bank card commercial card on TV…
Cost for tire repair $0.00
Cost for wiring harness replacement $6,525.00
Look on Jack’s face when I told him what the charge would be
Fortunately we had wonderful insurance and all but the deductible was covered! The deductible was $500.00. My estimate was right on after all! Jack said that it was a good thing that Dolly Marie was mostly living outdoors now, because he was afraid of what he would do if he ever saw her again (so was I). It was good karma that Dolly had chosen to leave. She seemed to be able now to live the natural life of a squirrel somewhere, or otherwise find some new interests. In other words, she needed to give Jack time to forget how frustrated he was with her!
(Squirrels are most active in late winter when the mating
season begins. The males will chase the females, as well
as chase off other suitors. This ritual of chasing occurs
through the trees at top speed while they perform
some of the most breathtaking acrobatics imaginable.)
To my sorrow Dolly did disappear. I called and called for her but she was gone! I hoped that the “suave and debonair” man-squirrel had tempted her away to a winter hideaway. I tried to keep that thought in the back of my mind throughout the long, long winter. My worries were that Dolly had been hit by a car, or even taken by a predator. Worse yet, I hoped she didn’t get into the engine of one of our vehicles and suffer a horrible demise! All I could do all winter long was think about her, hope she was well, and say a little prayer for her on occasion.
We dealt with the coldest winter in Woodland Hills, Utah in the last 8 years. There was as much as 5.5 feet of snow on our property up until about the end of March. I hoped that Dolly remembered where she had stored all her nuts I had bought her. I had purchased well over $175.00 worth during the time I raised her! Hopefully she had found a nice little place to store them away for the cold months of winter. I was concerned for her because the snow was so awfully deep, but Dolly did seem very ambitious during her “preparation stage” for winter. All I could do is trust she was adequately prepared and had warm accommodations. I thought about her all winter long and winter seemed to go on forever! Every one asked me if I had seen Dolly around, all I could say was I hoped she was nestled away somewhere safe.
I had dreams about her being angry with me for keeping her for so long, and not giving her enough time to prepare appropriately for winter. Also I dreamed about her running away with a “wolf in squirrels clothing”. I dreamed she came back to me in the spring and brought a dozen baby squirrels for me to help her raise to adulthood while she left ME with her dozen babies so she could romp and play with her man-squirrel for the summer!
Many times through the winter I worked on this book about Dolly and looked fondly at all the funny pictures I took of her. It was great therapy for me, because I could remember all the funny things she did, and how she just about wore me to a frazzle! I even entered some photos of Dolly Marie in photo contests and won some of the competitions.
It was a very, very long winter for me!
Spring slowly began to come around. It was the middle of April 2008 and we still had about 2 feet of snow in our yard, but the rock wall was absorbing the spring sun and the snow had melted there. Jack and I were sitting in our family room visiting with some of our neighbors and Jack yelled out THERE’S DOLLY! We looked out on the back deck and sure enough – there she was! She looked a little thin, but we were sure it was our baby! Jack got some nuts out of the pantry and I took them out to the patio table. Dolly Marie came right up to me and ate out of my hand! I was so excited and so relieved to see her I almost cried. She let me pet her on the head, and she ate every nut I had in my hand. Jack sat in the chair on the deck and she climbed right up in his lap (I think she was trying to charm him a little bit). Later in the day our cat, Majique, even went out to visit with Dolly. To our surprise they sniffed at each other, and acted like nothing had changed and no time had passed, they were still friends, and happy to see each other.
We saw Dolly Marie two or three times that Sunday and Monday, and then again it snowed! Dolly disappeared into the rocks, but at least we were sure she was safe and would return again as soon as the sun came out to warm the rocks. I’m sure when I go out and call “here kitty, kitty, kitty” she’ll come scampering over the rocks to see me. It is such a relief to us to know our dear little pet is still around!
This is a good point to end our story about Dolly Marie and her adventures. All is well, Dolly Marie is a happy and healthy squirrel, Jack and I are happy humans, and I’m sure we will enjoy a wonderful summer with our cute little friend!
(The legacy of Dolly Marie will continue in 2009) © 2008 Jan C. Snow