Two orphaned squirrelsPhoto by Earthfire

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —

Tiny arms intertwined with one another, the two orphaned baby squirrels lay sleeping. I gently disentangled the little girl for a feeding. So tiny they fit into one half of my hand, eyes tightly closed shut, delicate pink skin still unprotected by fur. The little boy stirred and started to protest, looking for his nest mate. They came from different mothers, different trees, in different neighborhoods, but probably blown out of their nests by the same ill wind that gusted fiercely a couple of weeks ago. Motherless, they found comfort in one another.

When we got the little girl, she still had her umbilical cord attached. It was touch and go. At first she accepted the bottle. But slowly, she started to fade and refused the nipple. It seemed she might not be with us for long. As I was trying to feed her, Caroline, a visiting herbal animal healer from England, came into the office. We had invited her to consult with us for animals who were not responding to western medicine—an elderly bear and bobcat, both with arthritis, and a coyote with a badly healed broken leg. A newborn squirrel hadn’t been in our mind. But since she was there…

Caroline pulled out a spray bottle with essence of rose. She said it encouraged the suckling response. In fact, the little girl did begin to make some feeble sucking motions, but she didn’t take much in. Reluctant to give up on her, I tried again a bit later and then again. She showed a bit more enthusiasm and I began to hope.

She is eating now, quite nicely and interested in the nipple. Still tiny. Still vulnerable. But eating and slowly putting on weight—from .74 ounces to 1.31!

Orphaned baby squirrel

The Little Girl Squirrel | Earthfire

Caroline was excited by her response. She said people didn’t believe it worked on newborns, but here was evidence it did! I was thrilled to try anything.

I wonder about baby animals going into depression, losing the will to live. It must be such a shock to go from a warm uterus—all needs taken care of, safely surrounded—to being born and blown out of a tree to land on hard ground. Then left alone, cold, and hungry, with no warm mother belly or loving tongue. I wonder, did the rose water somehow heal the sense of loss enough for her to begin to try again?

So tiny they could easily be dismissed as mindless and disposable, yet sensing, needing, and responding in a way that definitely is not mindless. So beautiful, so touching, two unrelated orphans finding comfort in each other, crying for each other. So profound, the elemental comfort of companionship we all need to thrive.

Learn more about Caroline’s work at

And Then the Rains Came

It has been hot—blazing hot, a harsh sun in an unforgiving cloudless sky. The trees and grasses survived as best they could, but day after day of the endless assault of heat and sun sucking out moisture took its toll. The trees in our seasonal stream corridor began to wilt, the grasses to die. Bushes began to prepare for winter early. What would the wild animals eat in the fall?

Spotted salamander in the grass

Tiger Salamander | Chelsea Carson

It was a long, perilous journey down to the main river for water, past a minefield of endless roads and human habitation. And then at the river, humans all along the edges and in the stream, boating, swimming, fishing.

And then the rains came.

The blessed, life-giving rains.

These are the important things in life.

A Wolf Called Promise

This was written after Debbi, the sound healer, came to visit for a week. People often find an animal here that they connect with strongly, and we and they never know if it will happen or with which animal. It is always unexpected, always magical.

Woman holding a painting of a wolf

Debbi holding a painting of Promise by Jane Delaford Taylor

My breath held in my chest as I looked deeply in his eyes

Our gaze met and locked seeing the way of the wise

As my heart found its beat synchronizing with his core

I knew in that moment I had opened the Wolf Medicine door

For my ordinary life was never to be the same again

I have been ignited by the Soul of Promise, my Soul aflame

With the passion of life and survival instinct abound

Our connection so primordial, my true essence found

As I look up to the moon in the darkness of the sky

I know the Wolf Medicine gifted to me will never lie

From the sacred day Promise looked deeply into my eyes

My heart touched so deeply, giving thanks as I cried

For rising within was a strength and courage to BE

As I embrace the Wolf Medicine, the teacher in me

In that moment of connection the lessons were learned

Of mankind’s plight and human confines concerned

With the way of the world and the respect of the word

Sharing the Wolf Medicine and the Truth to be heard

So as I seek out the silence in the landscape and go within

My journey as the healer and pathfinder truly begins

When my Soul was touched by the light in Promise’s gaze

I was gifted the stories of the ancestral clan leader ways

The message was clear, anchored deeply into my heart

It’s time to unite, putting the past behind and apart

For all that has gone on before no longer exists for you and me

So with clarity and focus I share the Wolf Medicine as me and you become WE.

By Debbi Walker


Learn more about Debbi Walker at

Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.

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