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There’s a Stranger in My House

This Wednesday topped my adventures with squirrels at my house. But let me tell you why I wasn’t totally freaked out when I saw a squirrel’s tail hanging from my dryer vent.
One winter morning two years ago just after Christmas, I came out of my bedroom into my living room headed to work. Perched on my fireplace was a real-life squirrel…staring at me and daring me to walk past him.

I rubbed my eyes because surely I was seeing things. 

I wasn’t though.

squirrel 1

I called my cousin and the fellow single mom because that’s what we do…if I don’t know what to do, I call her. If she doesn’t, she calls me. For anything from fixing a toilet to getting a squirrel out of your house.

She reminded me of the pecans my mother had left on the kitchen counter on Christmas and suggested I try to create a trail with those out the door. Well, I had to pass the squirrel to get to the kitchen so that wasn’t a good idea.

I contemplated running out the door and just going to work but figured it would be a bad idea to leave a squirrel in my house all day.

Instead, I grabbed the change in a bowl on my end table and threw the coins one by one at the squirrel. Sounds crazy I know, but I had to do something. My plan worked though because he ran into my kitchen and clung to my wood shutters.  I ran and opened my front door then screamed (as if he could understand me)…”Get out of my house!!!”.

I’m surprised my neighbors didn’t call the police thinking a stranger -a person- was in my house.

But he didn’t obey.

So I then used the same technique throwing dimes into the kitchen to try to get him to run out the front door. Instead, he ran through the kitchen into my dining room. All I could hear was the thud, thud, thud each time he hit his head on the table and chairs.

I ran and opened the back door propping open the storm door.

Throwing change into the dining room, the squirrel ran back through the kitchen and eventually made his way to the back door. He ran into the storm door a few times and finally ran out.

I breathed a sigh of relief, closed the door, and headed to work.

Too bad I was too shaken up to take pictures during this adventure or the next one.
For about a week, I could not figure out why there were huge flies on my ceiling near my fireplace. I sprayed, they died, and the next day more were back.
I thought I smelled something but no one else I asked could smell it. The flies went away, the smell I thought I smelled disappeared too. So I let it go.

About a month later, I sat on the floor in front of my fireplace grading tests one night after teaching my marketing class. The papers were spread across the floor, and I was focused on finishing the grades that night when I heard a noise in the fireplace.

I stood up and slipped and fell on the papers trying to get away from the fireplace.
The noise stopped, and I got the nerve to walk up and look into the fireplace.

That’s when I saw a squirrel tail hanging down inside my fireplace.

In fact, that tail had been there when I heard the noise the first time, but I thought it was part of one of the logs!
I ran and grabbed the huge canvas. I have planning to paint for a few years in my bedroom and propped it and a box over the opening of the fireplace.

That squirrel and whatever else was in there was going to have to stay in there or go back up the fireplace!

The next day I called around and found a company to investigate. When he arrived, he removed my canvas barrier then placed a garbage at the bottom of the fireplace and opened the chute. Ploop, ploop, ploop was all I heard as three squirrel carcasses fell into the bag.

That explained the flies.

He then went outside to figure out how the squirrels had gotten in. They bad bent the cap at the top of my fireplace and were getting stuck inside. Well, except for that one that wanted to play with before I went to work that day.

They had also made a hole on the side of my house near my roof and were getting into my walls!

So that was the animal scratching my walls so loudly that I thought they were going to come through!

He fixed the cap and the whole, I was relieved again until…the other day. And this time, I got pictures.

Sitting in my living room working on my laptop

I heard a noise in my laundry room. I thought it might be my dryer but didn’t think I had turned it on. Focused on the article I was writing, I dismissed the noise and went back to work.

A few hours later when I had my granddaughter, she and I were getting snacks out of the pantry and heard the noise again. This time I was close to the noise and almost fell trying to get myself and my baby out of the laundry room. I closed the door behind and tried to figure out what I was going to do about it.

That evening when a friend came over, I asked him to take a look.

That’s when he discovered a squirrel tail hanging from my torn dryer vent. After about 30 minutes of trying to figure out how to get it out, we decided we would just call a professional again.

The last time it cost me almost $200, and this time I discovered it would be no different. The difference for me now though was that the time before I had a great, regular salary and this time…let’s just say that I no longer had that. Plus, two days later I would be leaving for Chicago and needed my spending money. My friend agreed to help me, but I didn’t want anyone to pay that.

But I definitely couldn’t leave for Chicago with a squirrel in my dryer vent!

I told my friend I thought that maybe the squirrel had gotten unstuck and was out. I was hoping that anyway. So when I went back into the laundry room to get my white jeans that were hanging to dry, I was startled again when I heard it moving around.
Still there. Still gotta figure out how to get it out!

As I ran out of there, my friend Tarsha called. I answered and immediately told her my problem. She was calling to ask me something, but she didn’t get a word in because I was still shaken by the squirrel! She immediately said, “You want me to get my brother, Darryl, to come and get it?”

“Yes! Please!”

Relieved that an affordable solution was on the way we then talked about the reason she had actually called me. But look at God!! I never would have even thought to call her, and her brother doesn’t even live in town but was here just doing a construction job.

I talked to him, and he came over a few hours later. He opened the door to my laundry room prepared to shoot the squirrel with a BB gun (if necessary). I really didn’t want that but knew I needed the squirrel out before my trip the next morning. Plus, by this point, I had experienced numerous dead squirrels in my house (and probably still had some in my walls).

He walked over to the dryer vent, looked in with a flashlight and saw the tail like we had seen the night before. To my surprise and his, this is also what he saw…
baby squirrels 2

The squirrel had given birth to three babies in my dryer vent!

Darryl carefully placed them in a box, and we went back outside to try to coax the mama out of the vent to be with her babies (outside of my house). The babies cried and two cats magically appeared in my backyard. Then, my mama instincts kicked in, and I had to protect the baby squirrels from getting eaten by the cats.

Darryl went back inside to try to push the squirrel out while I stayed outside to protect the babies and watch for the mama to come out. She didn’t come out.  And she wasn’t in the house so apparently she got out while we were putting the babies in the box.

And now she was gone. But the babies needed her.

baby squirrels
Darryl secured the hole so that nothing else could get in, made a phone call, gave me the number and an address, and told me I had the option to take the baby squirrels to the Pet Emergency Room or do nothing. I knew that if I did nothing, they would surely die and quickly.

My friend who discovered the tail hanging in the vent the night before was on the way over. When he arrived, we rushed the babies to the ER that was ironically located on Summer Ave.

They were alive when we got there, and I felt good about getting them there.

squirrel ER
squirrel ER 2
I made it back home and finished packing for my early morning flight. Hopefully, I won’t have any more uninvited occupants anytime soon.

But, I have to admit, it has been interesting. Me and the squirrels.  #sowhat



I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges.  provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.

Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker?  I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.



3 replies
  1. Raenette
    Raenette says:

    Reading this story today was just as exciting as hearing you tell it. Although, I knew what was coming up next my heart beat faster with anticipation. LOL! I’m waiting for Summer’s next big adventure. TAKE CARE SUMMER. it was great meeting you. Keep in touch.

  2. Godfrey
    Godfrey says:

    Wow! Your story is so surprisingly derived. As a kid I really love your story and I think I’m just gonna love it forever. Summer keep up the good work, your story has filled me with joy after I’ve read it all. #evermore

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