A Knock At The Door
The third tap of the night came again. Having had enough of it, she made her way to her husband’s study and switched the cameras on.
Another tap rang at the door. She breathlessly swiped through the different cameras as she searched for the porch. She felt her mind relax as she finally found the camera, but what she saw made her sprint to her husband.
A Good Life
Kelly was unlike most twenty-six-year-olds in her neighborhood. She was done with grad school and was a year into a happy marriage with Brad Shoemaker, her high school sweetheart.
Life was perfect for Shoemakers. They had all that a young couple dreamed of, a good home, stable income, and undying love between the two of them. But this would soon change.
A New Addition
The Shoemaker family dynamic changed when Jeremy was born. Although his birth brought a lot of happiness to Kelly and Brad, it made staying in their city apartment impossible.
Seeing how his wife constantly stressed over the matter, Brad suggested moving to the countryside. Kelly immediately agreed. She didn’t know what she was signing up for.
Making the Change
The family moved to a beautiful house away from the chaos of the city. Jeremy was two at the time. Of all the Shoemakers, he loved their new home the most.
Lush trees that housed squirrels surrounded the Shoemaker home. To two-year-old Jeremy, this was heaven. But his mom wasn’t on the same page as him.
Life in the Countryside
“A scurry of squirrels can attract a predator, Brad,” Kelly told her husband one night. She’d realized Jeremy loved spending time in their yard with the squirrels and was beginning to think the worst.
Even though there were predators in their county, Brad assured her everything was fine. His stand on the matter changed one night when a knock woke them up.
A Dark Night
It was a cold Saturday night when the Shoemakers heard a knock on their porch door. Brad reached for his bat and walked downstairs to check.
Kelly joined him, her own bat in hand. She wiggled her brows when he gawked at her. Then she slid the porch door open. What they saw froze them in their tracks.
Are You Hurt?
Before Kelly and Brad lay a bleeding squirrel. An open wound stained one of its hind legs. It squeaked, and Kelly rushed to its aid.
The Shoemakers took in the injured animal. They cleaned and wrapped its wound. Jeremy brought a blanket to keep it warm. But even though the house quieted down once more, Kelly couldn’t help but feel something else was afoot.
A year passed, and Lily, the newest member of the Shoemakers, was healed. The family released her back into the wild, knowing she had a family that longed to see her.
The house felt a little empty now that Lily was gone. But it wasn’t long before the Shoemakers began hearing taps on their porch door at odd hours of the night.
The Shoemakers raced to the porch door the first night they heard the knocks. They found nothing but their dark yard staring at them.
A month went by, with the knocks recurring every night. Then the months turned into a year. Before the Shoemakers knew it, Jeremy was in fifth grade. Kelly was finalizing her Ph.D., and Brad was the manager at his firm. But even with all these changes, something remained the same.
Eight years had passed, yet the Shoemakers still heard the taps on their porch door. Fed up by the state of things, Brad set cameras all around his backyard. He positioned some over the driveway as well.
That weekend, Kelly spent her night staring at the cameras. What she saw made his heart stop.
She Can’t Believe It
“Brad!” Kelly raced upstairs to wake her husband. She dashed into Jeremy’s room as well, dragging the ten-year-old from sleep.
“It’s two in the morning, Kelly,” Brad lamented as he followed her and Jeremy. “What is it?” Kelly didn’t answer. She pulled both of them to Brad’s study, pointing at the porch camera with wide eyes.
Brad gasped. He focused the video feed, zooming in on what he was seeing. Kelly reached out for Jeremy, hugging him as Brad wrapped himself around them.
A squirrel was tapping the porch. “Lily?” Jeremy asked, and Kelly nodded. The squirrel was grown, its coat more detailed. The family was about to race to let Lily in when the squirrel did the unexpected.
A Smart Creature
Lily climbed up the rafter and disappeared. “Change cameras,” Jeremy almost barked. Brad switched the computer’s view to one of the cameras looking at the house.
“There,” Jeremy pointed– Lily was on the roof. She climbed into a small divide between tiles. “Attic?” Kelly suggested, and they all raced upstairs. Their jaws dropped at what they found.
New Family Members
The family hurried up into the dusty attic and immediately began looking around for Lily. Although it didn’t take long for them to spot her, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing when they did.
Lily was lying quietly in her old cuddler. She nestled three tiny squirrel kittens between her legs and fed them peacefully.
As soon as Kelly saw Lily and her babies, she broke into happy tears. “This is amazing,” she said. Brad and Jeremy did not speak. Kelly reached out for them, and they held each other as they watched.
Jeremy sneaked away, returning a minute later with Lily’s old blanket. “We are a family again, mom,” he smiled.
We Are The Shoemakers
The Shoemakers were so happy to have Lily back in their lives that they wanted to help her with her babies by making her as comfortable as possible.
The first thing they did for her was fill a small basket with soft blankets so there would be enough room for Lily and her three babies to sleep comfortably. But that’s not all.
The basket was only temporary – the Shoemakers bought Lily a brand-new cuddler, one big enough to fit her babies. They named the babies Jossie, Alen, and Cliff.
Next, Brad cleaned out the entire attic. It was a big job, but he dusted the cobwebs away and cleaned the floor to make it more comfortable for the squirrel family to live in.
Jeremy had been heartbroken when he’d said goodbye to Lily all those years ago and couldn’t believe that she’d come back.
He’d never heard of a squirrel becoming so attached to humans before and knowing to come to them when she needed help. Discovering Lily and her babies in the attic came with a revelation, too.
They quickly realized that each of the nights they’d heard a knock on their porch, it had been Lily. She had been living in their attic and raising her own family all this time.
For Kelly, it was amazing watching the baby squirrel she had raised care for her own babies. But that’s not all Lily did.
One Special Squirrel
The way Lily came back to her rescuers, again and again, took the internet by storm and changed people’s perceptions of squirrels.
The Shoemakers’ story went insanely viral and captured the hearts of millions around the world. Now, Lily has a large online following – people even come to the Shoemaker’s house to meet her.
While it’s easy to think of squirrels as bushy-tailed vermin akin to rats, Lily has proven that they are smart creatures capable of love, compassion, and dedication.
In fact, Lily acts more like a house pet than a wild animal and is clearly grateful for the help she received from a pair of humans. She has an important message for the world.
The Plight Of The Red Squirrel
In England, the red squirrel is considered a threatened species. Their populations are declining due to invasive grey squirrels, diseases, road traffic accidents, predators, and loss of habitat. But humans and their pets are also a huge threat.
Unfortunately, squirrels are often caught in rat traps or attacked by dogs and cats. And they have a bad rap.
A Lot To Offer
While squirrels are usually seen as disease-carrying “pests” and “nuisances” who raid bird feeders, chew through wood and wiring, and dart in front of cars, these “pests” actually have a lot to offer.
According to a prominent University of Florida researcher and ecologist, they are an integral part of a healthy ecosystem.
A Vital Part Of The Ecosystem
Robert McCleery, an associate professor in the department of wildlife ecology and conservation at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has studied squirrels for most of his career.
“Squirrels are some of the most visible wildlife in our modern urban and suburban settings, and they are a vital part of the ecosystems they inhabit.” He’s dedicated his life to raising awareness about these interesting creatures.
An Important Role
“Their biggest contribution to the forest is in shaping plant composition. They have a peculiar habit of taking seeds, which are their main source of nutrients, and burying them,” McCleery explains.
“They bury them throughout the environment, and often when they go back and look for them, they forget where they are. When that happens, they are effectively planting seeds.” This odd behavior, called caching, changes the forest landscape for the better over time.
“They will expand forests and change the types of trees that are there,” McCleery said. For example, in Florida, squirrels play an important role in maintaining the long-leaf pine ecosystem.
McCleery also says that, although we do know a lot about squirrels, there’s so much we still don’t know about them. That’s why he loves studying these mysterious creatures. He also shared another hilarious fact.
They Are Cheeky!
“If you’re in your backyard, walking across a college campus, or through a park, you might hear squirrels. They make a rolling chirping noise,” McCleery said. While they make that distinctive chirping noise, they typically flick their tails over their heads. This gesture means “back off!”
“They are scolding you because you are near a tree they’ve utilized or are near some food resource, or you’re also perceived as a predator,” McCleery explained. So, what is Lily’s message?
Leading By Example
“If Lily can teach at least one person to have compassion for all living things, no matter how big or small,” Kelly said, “then we have done what we have set out to.”
After all, she raised Lily for a year and nursed her back to health after the Shoemakers found her with an injured leg.
Although squirrels have had a stigma attached to them for as long as they’ve lived alongside humans, stories like Lily’s are convincing the world that they are capable of intelligence, dedication, and loyalty.
In fact, the way Lily behaved was far closer to a domestic cat than a wild squirrel. The Shoemakers were sure that she remembered being rescued by them all those years ago.
Lily’s message for the world is a simple one: humans need to coexist peacefully alongside wildlife. Even better, humans should do what they can to ensure all species are protected.
So, the next time you see an animal in need – no matter how big or small – remember that kindness goes a long way. Every creature on earth has its role to play.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.