Dead Squirrel

I keep going back to this image of a full length dead squirrel stretched out on our welcome mat by the door. It actually looked as though it were arranged to show off its mature full-grown length, as though the murderer wanted to impress me with its size.

My cat is a killer. There are often dead creatures outside the door. You have to watch when you step out, especially when barefooted.

The head was missing on the squirrel. Chewed off and raw red flesh protruding from its neck.

I find it hard to believe that my medium-sized cat can run down a hyper, alert squirrel, AND what possessed it to do so and give it to me. Clearly he is not hungry.

So I Googled it- the way to get smart today.


It is a great gift from my beloved pet, it said. The larger the animal, the more difficult it is to kill it, the more frequently the gifts are delivered, that is a true indicator of your’ pet’s love for you. It knows, you could not get this tasty full length squirrel on your own, so he got it for me.
Never, ever ever reprimand or scold or heaven forbid, yell at your pet for doing so. They will not understand at all. Praise them instead.


We’ve always had killers for cats, all the years my kids were growing up. They used to take them in small cardboard boxes and tenderly take them out to “Forest Park” under a big deciduous tree and bury it in the cemetery. Chip a headstone out of discarded slate or use a chunk of brick for a headstone.


I wonder if I could find those headstones under the leaf debris. Did the mice eat gnaw on the bones after all these years since childhood passed? It taught my kids to revere life- no small thing to learn no matter the age.


I went to see my friend Dave in the hospital the other day. He is a studly rock climber for a nearly 60-year-old guy and I looked at his form under his printed blousey hospital gown and I could tell he looked as gorgeous as he did when he was 30. He works hard to stay fit and has all his life. But his heart freaked out and started pumping off the charts. He felt tired and weird, couldn’t whack the tennis ball without getting unusually out of breath. It creeped up in a few months and he chalked it up to getting a cold AND older age creeping in.


It took days to try to regulate his heartbeat, even had to shock it into beating normal. His resting heart rate is so crazy low to begin with from being so fit, that the doctors were alarmed.


Dave could have died. I sat there looking at him on the hospital bed and thought, I could have lost my friend.

That’s why I put a halt to my crazy busy life and went in to see him and  spend a few hours. Because I saw his presence in there as a gift, that he was still here. I brought a deck of cards to play 500 Rummy but we never needed to entertain ourselves. We never got off the topic of our kids, never made it to us. But I knew he was happy to be alive and was shaken by the close call. That goes without saying.


As Jackson Browne sings, “Pay attention to the open sky. You never know what will be coming down.”

It can be that quick. Like the squirrel, he never saw it coming. Regardless of how fit or how fast or how strong we are.


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4 thoughts on “Dead Squirrel Leave a comment

  1. I am so glad our dog Sasha avoided a face-off with your cat while we visited!

    Ron Tipton

    Executive Director / CEO

    Appalachian Trail Conservancy

    799 Washington Street | P.O Box 807

    Harpers Ferry,WV 25425-0807

    Phone: 304.535.6331 x116

    Mobile: 202.236.3885

    Fax: 304.535.2667


    The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail –

    ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today,

    tomorrow, and for centuries to come. To become a member, volunteer, or learn more, visit

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