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Meg Baker DeMolet said she was taking her dog Rosie for one last walk Friday evening before Tropical Storm Florence brought the real heavy stuff her way in Seven Lakes, N.C.
It was already raining, and the wind had picked up, but the 57-year-old kindergarten teacher and her 6-year-old lab/shepherd mix wanted to get out one more time before having to hunker down.
“It started raining harder, but she was pulling me really hard toward this clump of pine straw,” DeMolet told McClatchy Saturday. “She reached her nose in and ever-so-gently pulled out this tiny little squirrel. I thought the little guy was dead.”
She said Rosie is one of those dogs who could chase squirrels in the yard all day, but when she found this one, “so still, so cold,” Rosie’s demeanor was totally different.
“It was so uncharacteristic,” DeMolet said. “She just plopped him down in front of me. She carried him in her mouth like she would have carried her own puppy.”
DeMolet said she didn’t even know the little animal was alive until she started to warm it up in her hand. When the squirrel started moving, she made the split decision to take him in.
She named him Rocky.
“I read some things online that said to warm the little one and to get him hydrated,” DeMolet said. “I didn’t have any Pedialyte, but I did have grapes. I squished one, and Rocky started lapping it up. It kind of perked him up, and I’ve been checking on him every two hours since then.”
“Since we both enjoy grapes, Rocky and I will ride out the storm together,” she wrote on Facebook.
DeMolet told WTVD, which first reported on the rescue, that Rocky has become more active as he’s recuperated, sharing the house with Rosie and her humans. They’ve even been playing some hide-and-seek. Rocky’s favorite hiding spot is behind her pillow, according to another Facebook video DeMolet posted on the squirrel’s recovery.
She said she’s heard from several wildlife rehabilitators in the area who have expressed interest in taking over with Rocky’s recovery after the storm subsides. DeMolet said they would have to wait, though, until Rocky has had a chance to meet her kindergartners at nearby Pinehurst Elementary, who have been asking her — via their parents — for updates ever since she first posted on Facebook about Rosie the dog rescuing Rocky.
“They were really nervous about the storm when we got out of school on Friday, and we see people being displaced by the storm; it’s so horrible — so frightening for the children,” she said. “Just to be able to pause for a minute, look at this little guy lapping up grape juice — it just says that we’re going to make it — that the sun does come up.”
It was Florence’s “high winds” that displaced the baby squirrel, she wrote in a Facebook post. But had she and Rosie not acted, the flood waters might’ve done him in. Flash flooding hit Seven Lakes and the surrounding area Friday night, and a flash flood warning is in effect in the area until at least 5:45 p.m. Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
“We’re expecting another six inches of rain before it starts slowing down tomorrow,” DeMolet told McClatchy.
As for Rosie, DeMolet said she’s always been a good girl, but now she can say she’s turned a backyard nemesis into a friend.