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The Postscript: Stubby's chance

I am delighted to report that my mother has come around.

I have been lobbying my mother for months to take pity on a little red squirrel who had acquired a great fondness for her, demonstrating his devotion by digging up all her flowerpots and gazing at her for minutes at a time through the window. My mother spent the summer shooing him off the deck and telling him to “scram” when she saw him through the window.

“He loves you, Mom.”

“I don’t love him!”

The little squirrel persisted. He would stare through the window, standing on his hind legs with his little fingers knit together, as if he was about to make a speech. I suspected I knew what his speech would be about. He wanted to be my mom’s pet.

“He’s not my pet!” my mother insisted.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent her a video of a squirrel that had been allowed to live in someone’s house.

“Never inside!” she texted back.

The fact that she said “never inside” instead of simply “never!” indicated to me that she was softening on the subject. I suspected I knew the reason. Sometime early this fall, the poor squirrel lost half his tail.

“He was too preoccupied looking in the window at you!” I told her.

“I don’t know how he lost it,” my mother said. “Maybe a fox.”

I could tell this recent bit of bad fortune had tipped the scale in favor of my little furry friend.

“Squirrels need their tails,” my mother said. “They use them for balance. He might not be able to climb trees anymore!” As if to reassure my mother, the little squirrel nimbly scrambled up the nearest pine tree with a cone in its mouth.

But now all the other red squirrels had disappeared for the season, and this one fellow was still there, with half a tail, hanging out on the deck and acting as if he desperately wanted to be part of the family.

“Well, I’ve decided to start feeding him,” my mother told me.

This is a big concession for my mom. Squirrels are the never-ending adversary, always looking for ways to get into the bird feeders. My parents have put considerable effort into thwarting their attempts. The red squirrels in particular are mischievous, dropping things onto the deck, stealing birdseed every chance they get and chattering loudly when they have some complaint — and they are always complaining about something. This fellow is as bad as any of them. But he won’t go away. And now he only has half a tail.

“So I guess he needs a name,” my mom continued. “Your sister suggested Richard, but that sounds too dignified to me. I suggested Ricky.” Obviously, things had progressed significantly if my mother was christening the wicked little red squirrel.

“But Beau pointed out that we don’t know if it’s male or female, so maybe we should pick a name that would work either way.” Beau is my nephew, and he is very concerned about inclusive language.

“Beau suggested Ray,” my mom continued, which did not sound very squirrel-like to me.

“It’s missing half its tail,” I reminded my mother. “Why not call it Stubby? That would work for either gender.”

“Stubby!” my mom laughed.

Whatever his (or her) name, I feel a lot better about Stubby’s chance of making it through the winter with half a tail now that there is a daily serving of seeds on the deck railing.

And I am pleased that my mother has finally acquired a new pet.

Till next time,



Photos from the column and a link to YouTube videos can be found at


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