The Squirrel Who Thought He Was a Dog

by Diannia Baty

The Squirrel Dog In a park years ago I met the squirrel in the photo. If you look closely you can see he is well fed, a little plump and healthy. He was not like any other squirrel I had ever encountered. I came to the park that day to take some photos and drink in the beautiful spring day. This park was frequented by people with children and their dogs.

I watched some Frisbee playing going on and some blankets under the trees with a picnic feasts to fill bellies and pass the time. This squirrel was very friendly and not at all fearful of humans. It was as if the park was fully his home and humans came to visit him.

He would approach people who were having a picnic and sit quietly a respectable distance away. If they noticed him he would come just a bit closer and closer to the edge of the blanket. To my amazement, he would start a performance guaranteed to delight his audience and get a treat. He would sit up and chatter away and run in a circle and chatter again. It was his squirrel song and dance routine. The only thing missing was a top hat and cane. He won over his audience every time. When offered the treat he would creep slowly forward putting his little paws of the tips if their fingers for balance, look at what they held in their hand and gently remove it. This was no snatch and grab squirrel. Most squirrels run almost instantly to the safety of the nearest tree.

I watched his antics for a while and the reactions of everyone who were blessed enough to have a visit from Sam that day. That was the name that his fans had given him. I also discovered that Sam loved babies and thumbed his nose at dogs. Sam was a tail twitcher and loved to show off and wag his tail eerily similar to a dog wagging his tail. I didn’t see any other squirrel doing that.

When someone would approach with a small child or a baby in a stroller Sam would do a sort of happy dance. If he was allowed to, he would approach a child gently and with great respect and sit at their feet and do his squirrel song. The children were delighted. A few of them petted him. He would sit as still as a statue while he was caressed with his eyes closed. Sam seemed to be able to discern which children to play keep away with and which ones would be gentle. He never tried to bite anyone.

I came to this park many times to sit under the grandfather oaks and take photos of whatever caught my interest. There was a beautiful river nearby full of water lilies and a few alligators. Nature has always renewed me. Sam was always there.

Sam was also a hero. One day I came to the park and settled in on a sparkling summer day and there was no Sam. I saw some people there that I knew as I was walking around and I asked if they had seen Sam. He was a legend in the park. I was told that Sam was in squirrel heaven. It seems that one small child about two years old had wandered a little close to the river. Children will do that if you turn your back for a second. Sam had circled the child to get her attention and was doing his squirrel song and dance routine in a frantic way to keep her attention away from the river. He somehow knew she was headed for disaster.

This park had a leash rule in effect for dogs but there was one dog there that had slipped his leash that day. Sam was chattering away as loud as he could and sure enough the mother who was looking frantically for her child spotted her and was running to get her as Sam kept her entertained.

Unfortunately for Sam whose attention was on this child didn’t see an unleashed dog that was creeping forward. Within a split second after this mother got to her child the dog got Sam. It was over in seconds. Now Sam was one sharp cookie and was always able to outwit the occasional stray dog but not this day. There was a small wooden cross in the park that said, In Memory Of Sam.

I have thought about this incredible squirrel many times. He was flexible and thought outside the box. He had watched the dogs
and adopted some of their mannerisms. He practiced discernment when figuring out whom to approach and how. He knew what worked and what didn’t and seemed to have great fun interacting with people. He was a rare little creature who captivated many hearts.

Everyday there are things that happen and events we see that point out some mighty lessons and guidance if we can only see them for what they are. Sam was one of God’s little miracles in action. He had found a way to adapt to his environment and make the very best of it with incredible finesse. He was a gentleman and an entertainer and brought a lot of people joy and laughter. It was clear to me that Sam had developed affection for humans and held them in high regard. If only, we could learn to do the same for the animals and each other. There is no doubt in my mind that if Sam had not been there that day the child might have drowned or worse. Remember there were alligators in that river and the river had a current.

God has given us all the tools we need to be flexible and to adapt to our surroundings. I am reminded to spread joy and love everywhere in every moment. This is in memory of Sam, an animal ambassador for peace. This is just something to think about. If you wish to be added to my e-mail list go to

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