The newest edition of the Enterprise-Journal Pulse magazine, which features a photography contest, includes a close-up of a squirrel — an extreme close-up — and therein lies a tale.
No, it wasn’t taken at a distance with some super-duper zoom lens. It was taken up close and personal by a woman who raised the orphaned squirrel and turned it loose into the wild.
“She was found as a baby and her eyes were still closed and everything,” said Victoria Robertson, who lives in the country outside Summit.
A friend found the baby a couple years ago after it fell out of a nest. Figuring the odds of survival were nil, the friend gave it to Robertson, who had previously rescued baby possums and raised them like kittens.
Robertson cozied up to the squirrel, whom she named Shiloh.
“I stayed up all through the night every two hours bottle-feeding her, making sure she was warm,” Robertson said. “She would sleep against me like a baby. I knew she was going to pull through.”
When Shiloh got older, Robertson fed her fruit, nuts and other snacks. Shiloh had her own hamster cage, where she would romp and hang upside-down from the wires. She also had the run of the house.
“She was just crazy,” Robertson said. “It was fun, but it was crazy having a squirrel running all over the house.”
Then came a time when Robertson knew it was time to release Shiloh.
“I didn’t want to keep her inside when she got fully grown,” she said. “I knew she needed to be outside around other squirrels.”
At first she put Shiloh outdoors in a large cage with a box nest and a blanket. Later she left the cage door open.
“I was so scared she was going to run off and I’d never see her again,” Robertson said.
Shiloh took to the pine trees around the house but didn’t go far.
“She knows her name,” Robertson said. “I would go outside and I would call her and she would come running to me.”
Now sometimes weeks go by without Robertson seeing the squirrel.
“Last time I saw her was a couple weeks ago,” Robertson said. “I saw her by the shed. I started yelling her name, ‘Come here, baby.’ She turned around and she looked at me and ran as fast as she could up to my porch.”
Shiloh jumped on Robertson’s son Connor’s shoulder and accepted some snacks.
Predators are always a worry, but Robertson keeps the cage outside with food in it “just in case.”
“She seems to really be thriving,” Robertson said. “She made some other little friends out there.”
Pulse magazine, which features Shiloh’s portrait, is free and distributed in doctors’ offices, drug stores, banks, motels, gas stations, restaurants, stores, government offices and other places frequented by the public.