A video of bath time will land Baby his 15 minutes of fame on "America's Funniest Home Videos." The squirrel will be featured in an upcoming segment, Cindy Dye said, but the episode hasn't aired yet and they aren't able to tell her which day for certain it runs. The show airs at 7 p.m. on Sundays on ABC.
Last July Blaine Dye heard something in the back of his mom's salon, The Ultimate Look in Hair Design. He put the tiny squirrel in a bowl and left it outside the shop, Cindy Dye recalled.
"The little stinker," she jokingly called her son. "And I said, 'I can't let that happen.' And drove up and got him. He knew I would."
Since that day, Baby has been part of the family.
"We pretty much just loved it as soon as we got it," Blaine Dye said. "He's really cute. We love animals."
Cindy Dye thinks Baby fell from a high nest. She attempted to put him back on a ledge outside her salon, but she said the mother didn't return.
When they found him, Baby fit in the palm of Cindy's hand and barely had any hair. That's how he got his name.
Cindy Dye of Oakland City, Ind., greets Baby, a red squirrel she raised from infancy, Wednesday morning. Her son, Blaine Dye, found the critter fallen from its nest behind mom's hair salon in July and now it calls the Dye's backyard its home.
The family hadn't rescued a squirrel before, but Blaine Dye referred to his mom as a "farmer girl, so she just knew what to do."
She laughed and said she grew up around all kinds of animals, both typical and some exotic.
"I tell you, all my life we saved every animal you can mention," she said. "It was fun."
Wesselman Nature Society Curator of Education Gena Garrett said "best practice" is to leave an injured or abandoned mammal alone. Wesselman Nature Society is not a licensed rehab facility, she said, so they can't receive any kind of injured or orphaned animals.
"We can't recommend that people take them," Garrett said. "What they should do is call an animal rehabber who is licensed through the state of Indiana to take care of mammals."
So, who do you call?
That depends on the county, according to Garrett. In Vanderburgh and Warrick counties, she said people can call Wesselman and someone can refer them to a rehabber, or call the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources website advises to "keep wildlife wild." Before acting when you see a small wild animal, the DNR website suggests you ask yourself:
- Has sufficient time passed without an adult animal nearby?
- Does the animal really need help?
- Will I help or harm this animal?
From the beginning, Cindy Dye was determined to release Baby back into nature. She didn't restrict him in the house but kept him in the garage until he grew old enough to roam and get accustomed to outside life.
Plus, she didn't want the squirrel to get confused and think dogs are safe.
"I was afraid he wouldn't know he should be scared of them," she said. "The dogs have seen him, but one wanted to eat him and one loved him. So I just kept them away."
Blaine Dye said Baby is "pretty high strung" and likes to crawl around the yard.
"When Baby was growing up, he would hang out with me in my pocket," Blaine Dye said. "He's getting pretty big now. He's pretty independent anymore."
Cindy Dye wonders how long Baby will continue to come down the tree to visit and play.
For now, she'll enjoy the time they share and always meet him with a treat.
"It's so cute to watch him run off with it and hide it," she said.