Hard Candy – “Mayor Sam” the Squirrel

I swerve to avoid hitting squirrels and I shoo spiders outside (or, rather, I make El Cap shoo spiders outside. I don’t want ’em dead but I don’t want ’em on me, either). That said, please don’t judge me for allowing my cats outside. I write this at the end of an election day that seemed interminable. Oh, not the candidates – and thank you, Mr. Ray and Councilwoman Roman for remaining polite and civilized – but the squirrel.
Scuppers (our smart, loud, sweet cat) caught a young squirrel, but failed to kill it. He did, however, bring it through the cat door (of course) while the squirrel shrieked like a banshee. Since El Cap was at work, I had two choices: hope the matter would resolve itself or initiate a one-woman squirrel rescue. What followed was some version of Marlin Perkins’ Wild Kingdom. 
To his credit, Scuppers did drop it when I started shrieking at him (on that note, I’d like to apologize to any of my neighbors who may have heard the shrieking and thought I was getting murdered). However, Calypso took this as permission to pounce. She’s very much a hunter, that dog. To her credit, she dropped it on my command. Several times. The squirrel, for its part, fled like an East German going over the wall. 
At some point in the race around my dining room I notice the squirrel has a hurt leg, so of course I try and coax it into a paper bag. Fail. Scuppers begins to once again stalk the squirrel, probably wondering how I can be so very bad at this sort of thing and why on earth I yelled at him to drop the squirrel if I was only going to try to catch it again. I throw a laundry basket over the squirrel. Squirrel escapes from between the basket’s broken handle. I make a mental note to get a new laundry basket, catch squirrel again, this time blocking squirrel-sized handle openings with liquor decanters. Squirrel contemplates getting drunk, opts to hold out for better vodka. 
I kick Scuppers out of house, close the cat door from inside, and walk over to the mayor’s house, because if anyone can handle an emergency squirrel rescue, it’s the Henderson family. The mayor, probably having heard my screams, does not answer his door. I call him. No answer. Then I call El Cap on the off chance he’s on his way home and this whole thing can wait. No such luck. I text the mayor and wait. In the meantime, I do what many of you tend to do when you have nowhere else to turn: I call the Gabber.
My good buddy Shelly answers, who tells everyone in the office I have a squirrel in my house, “because of course” (direct quote). No one tries to hide their snickering, and no one has advice. I hang up, and remember I have cat crate in garage. 
Put towel, peanut, water in crate. Squirrel remains unappreciative, refuses to move from under basket. I lift the basket to better usher him towards the crate – you know where this is going, right? Squirrel escapes. Calypso is on the porch, vibrating about a foot off the ground. I find squirrel in closet, hiding behind vacuum. I move vacuum. We really need to vacuum more in the coat closet; injured squirrel now covered in dust bunnies. I try to shoo squirrel into carrier with Sports section of the Tribune. Squirrel apparently prefers Times, tries to climb paper. Second attempt gets him (or her, I didn’t check) in carrier. 
Mission accomplished. I failed to think ahead as to what to do with trapped squirrel, but as I gaze at the small animal gazing back at me with no small amount of malice, Mayor Sam calls me back and tells me to take the squirrel to the Animal and Avian hospital on Starkey, where they will take in the squirrel, rehab him if it’s possible, and get him to a squirrel foster home. Because that’s a thing, apparently. I do so, and they take in the squirrel, telling me “this is the third squirrel this week” they’ve treated. Which, by the way, they do for free, although they accept donations. They ask for his name. Inspired and grateful, I list his name as “Mayor Sam the Squirrel”, because without the mayor’s input I’d likely be trying make a splint out of popsicle sticks and cotton swabs. 
So, new challenge for Mayors Kriseman, Calabria, and Lowe: forget getting a park or a building named after you. How many politicians have a squirrel namesake? Only Mayor Sam (the actual mayor, not the squirrel, but for that matter, how many squirrels can say they have a mayoral namesake?)
I feel obliged to note that Gulfport election days always get a little weird, but never like this. Well, never until now.
I can’t wait to see what next year’s elections will bring.

Contact Cathy Salustri at CathySalustri@theGabber.com, unless you’re writing to tell her she needs to keep her cats inside. She’s buying Scuppers a louder collar bell this week. Her other cat, Elmo, is very sweet but not smart enough to catch anything, so his small jingle bell can stay.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.