The Squirrel Saga

This epic begins just about a year ago, when we heard scratching noises in our fireplace. Turns out the thing with sharp claws was scratching at the door of the chimney flue. We have only a cheesy mesh curtain between us and whatever said thing, so we were concerned. Okay, so I was scared. Not DH, my Prince Charming. He put on a brave face for the girls, as we witnessed an assortment of mulch raining onto the fireplace grate. DH investigated and saw that it was unlikely, no matter the size of the animal, that it could get out. We covered the fireplace opening anyway. The next day, DH had to work, so we again left the fireplace covered. When he came home, he got down to business. He asked Halie to be in charge of opening the front door if the animal got loose. She stood trembling with her hand on the doorknob. He brought in a large lidded trash can, put it into the fireplace and opened the chimney flue. Lots of leaves came out with a *whoosh*, and then a thud in the bottom of the trash can. Before we could attempt to squeeze the lid of the can into the fireplace, a red squirrel popped its head out the top of the can, sized up the room and the strange people watching him. Halie screamed and scrambled onto the entryway table, pressing herself against the corner. The squirrel leapt out of the can and looked for an escape. I opened the front door and the squirrel bounded out, never stopping to look back. We were all relieved!
Fast forward to yesterday. DH had an early work day, so I was on my own getting all the girls up, fed, watered, groomed, dressed from head to toe, and out the door. No sweat. I dropped Halie off at school, then stopped at the park for some adventures with Catie and Rosie, then drove home. When we walked into the house, we could hear familiar scratching noises coming from – you’ll never guess – wait for it… THE CHIMNEY! I decided to spare DH the fiasco that happened last time by calling Animal Control. A man arrived about two hours later. I can’t blame him for taking so long, since we were not in immediate danger. He put a large net in front of the fireplace and opened the flue all the way. Only leaves fell, and after that, he told me that he could not get the flue door all the way closed. I didn’t know how to close it. Crap! He told me to call a Chimney Cleaning Professional. He says,”It will cost you, but they know how to get squirrels out.” Then he left. Crappity-crap! I put a heavy folding table against the fireplace opening (thanks Mom and Dad), and I loaded up the girls to go pick Halie up from school. When we returned, I heard scratching on the table itself. I carefully leaned the table away from the bricks, and when I shined a flashlight into the crack I’d created, a red fluffy tail appeared.
Crappity-crap-crap-crap!
I called animal control again, explaining that now the animal was out of the chimney and in our fireplace, all my girls were home and freaking out about the noises. A different man showed up this time, with the same net, and also what looked like a gigantic set of barbecue tongs. He reached in with said ‘tongs’ and pulled out a little red squirrel, carried it past Halie (on the table again), out the front door and released it into the yard. Then he left.

I wish the Saga ended here.

Now, I had a heavy table to lug back out to our garage – by myself. I asked Halie (again) to be in charge of opening and closing the front door for me. I carried the table, placed it in the garage, and walked back in through the laundry room, closing the garage behind me. When I walked into the living room, I could see that the front door was open. “Halie, you were in charge of the door. I’m really disap…”, then “Where’s Rosie?!” Oh no. Our house is small, and all the doors were closed, so I knew she’d run outside. I ran out to look for her – she was nowhere in sight, and I heard the other two urging me to call 911. That’s exactly what I did. I described her physical appearance, what she was wearing, told them she’s a two year old, not talking yet, that I’m her mom and that I’m having a panic attack. The 911 operator stayed on the line with me while she relayed the information to the police via radio. Then I saw Rosie. She was army-crawling out from under our next-door neighbors’ bushes onto the front porch. I could finally breathe again. Two officers came by a little later to check on us, and all three girls were just awestruck. The officers were so friendly with my girls, offered them sticker ‘badges’, shook their hands and headed back to work. DH came home just after that and got the whole story from Halie, Catie and me. He smiled and said, “It’s good to be home.”

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