Saving a furry family member

Saying goodbye to a nutty companion

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Kennedi Paty

Rockey wanders sophomore Kennedi Paty’s home to look for objects to climb.

The inside of the walls were alive as the sounds of thudding paws and angry barks echoed off the furniture; the silent stare of a cat perched upon a cabinet like royalty just as deafening. As sophomore Kennedi Paty roamed her house, her mind drifted to her furry family while gazing out the window, spotting the one pet who left home to be the wild animal it was meant to be: her squirrel Rockey.

Although her friends didn’t visit often, the short time they spent with the squirrel proved how at home he was. He roamed through the home like he belonged there, with no remorse to who he bothered. Megan Lindly, a friend of Kennedi’s who only saw the squirrel briefly, witnessed the love he received.

“Kennedi’s squirrel was a playful little guy,” Lindly said. “He was [taken care of] and Kennedi did her best to treat it well. I remember when they would let him out of his cage he would jump around the living room and try to attempt to jump on my shoulders, though I wasn’t very kin with that.”

The energetic squirrel Paty’s family took in left his mark even after leaving months ago. He was found as a hairless newborn with his eyes still closed, and her family had no other choice but to raise Rockey when spotting his dead mother right beside him. Although he wasn’t raised in a tree, he never lacked in family. 

“[We released] him,” Kennedi said. “We gradually let him outside, and one day he didn’t come back. He still [appears] in a tree in our backyard and then he’ll [leave]. I think he has a girlfriend, so they’ll come by every now and then. My dad was really attached to him, when [Rockey] left and didn’t come back, he cried.”

Kennedi’s father, Jeff Paty, was no stranger to taking in wild animals. Although well versed in the act, letting them go never became easier. He named the squirrel, fed him and kept him warm in a loving home. So finally giving him off to nature where he belonged was a bittersweet moment, celebrating the fact that he lived and was strong enough to make it. But he was still greatly missed when he was gone.

“Rocky lived with us for about seven months and then decided to leave and be wild,” Jeff said. “I have raised several wild animals and never [kept] them as pets, unless they decide that’s what they want. He does still live outside the house and occasionally stops by to say hello, but always at a slight distance. The biggest challenge with a wild animal is allowing something you raised to go away at such a young age, it’s not easy.”

The Paty family saw the once frail, pink nub grow into a furry energetic wild animal. They watched him grow larger and harrier and even witnessed his personality blossom. After parenting him and being his crutch in the four small walls of their house, they knew when it was time to let him walk on his own where he was supposed to — in the wild, and so it was time to say goodbye. 

“At first he was really timid and never let people touch him, but in the end, he would force you to cuddle with him,” Kennedi said. “When he left we were kind of sad for a couple of days, but we’re glad he’s moved out into the wild.”