Throwback: Tiger: A Story for Young Readers

By Patricia Horton

January 1996 cover image. This cover was underwritten by Friendship Village of South Hills. Photo is by Don Delphia. Residents pictured (left to right) Ann and Robert Gopel, Imogene Hoeft and George Geiser.

Throwback with TODAY

Tiger: A Story for Young Readers

by Patricia Horton

January 1996 page 74

The day was warm and bright. It was a great day for an adventure. Melissa, a third grade student at Eisenhower Elementary School, walked home from the bus stop. As she started across her yard, she felt that she was being followed!

She slowly turned and behind her was a baby squirrel looking up at her. Frightened and confused, they both stared at each other. Melissa decided to adopt the little furry critter! She rushed into the house and brought out a blue plastic laundry basket and put it upside down over the gray, tiny creature.

Melissa's mom called the veterinarian about the newly adopted family member. "It probably fell out of its nest. Watch out for its teeth! They are very sharp!" the veterinarian warned. Other warnings and directions were given.

"I know what I am going to name this little baby! Your name is Tiger, because you think you are so very big, brave and strong!" Melissa smiled. Eye droppers of water helped the tiny Tiger celebrate its new home. Dry cereal became a staple meal along with carrots, apples and nuts.

Photo by Patricia Horton

Tiger made himself at home in Melissa's blond curls. Melissa took Tiger for walks - she would lead and he would follow close behind until his little legs could walk no further. He would then jump on Melissa's blue-jeaned leg and ride hanging on for dear life. Tiger's favorite eating spot was upside down on the screen. Holding on with his back toenails, he eagerly waited for food to be served to the front paws. With his fluffy tail flipping back and forth, he dined.

As the weeks went by Melissa knew that Tiger needed to learn to live in the trees. The first day Melissa carefully placed Tiger on a low branch not too far from the ground. No wonder Tiger fell out of his nest! He hated being up on that limb - he fell off! He would not or could not hold on to the limb. He was an acrophobic squirrel! He hated heights!

Carefully, Melissa picked up the little fella and held him close. "Don't worry little friend. You will learn to love the trees! I will teach you to climb trees and hang on to the limbs. Someday you will jump from limb to limb at the top of the trees. I learned to ride a bicycle so I know anything is possible!" Melissa confessed.

With the limb on the ground and Melissa's encouragement, Tiger tried again. Several times he fell off, but at least it was not too far to fall! After he mastered the ground level feat of balance and skill, Melissa lifted the branch a little bit. Slowly, Tiger crept to the other end for a small nut. hat a small treat fro all that work!

Everyday Melissa patiently helped mighty Tiger get over his fear of limbs and trees. He branched out! He liked his exercise routine and he loved Melissa.

He lived outside and came everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then just for breakfast and lunch. Then just for breakfast. And then one day he appeared with another grey squirrel! He showed Melissa his new friend and went away to live in the treetops.

Melissa was very sad. A few days later as she walked home from school, she heard a wee little "meow" in the neighbor's barn, but that's another story!

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