Meet the Corner Brook dog and baby squirrel who have become the best of friends

·3 min read
Alisha Rideout feeds baby squirrel Alvin while his friend Berlin watches. (Troy Turner/CBC - image credit)
Alisha Rideout feeds baby squirrel Alvin while his friend Berlin watches. (Troy Turner/CBC - image credit)

They're a strange couple but Alvin and Berlin have become the best of friends. Berlin is a border collie owned by Corner Brook's Alisha Rideout. Alvin? Well, he's a squirrel Berlin found on a hike at Crescent Lake.

Rideout says she thinks dog and squirrel have a unique connection.

"I think where Berlin initially found him and spent all those hours with him, that they really have a special bond," said Rideout. "They will play together, Berlin will 'boop' him with his nose, and when Alvin is drinking his bottle, Berlin will lick his face, lick the milk off his face.

"I think Berlin does have a fatherly instinct towards this squirrel. They're always together."

Their introduction came in early May when Rideout was hiking the Hazelnut Hiking Trail in Green Bay South. Berlin went for a dip in the lake to cool off and returned with something in his mouth. Initially she thought it was a dead animal but upon further inspection realized it was a baby squirrel.

"His little belly was going up and down and I said, 'Oh my, that's still alive,'" said Rideout. "I knew you're not supposed to take random wild animals home, so I did leave him the first night alone, but when I came back [the next day] with a bucket and a blanket to put him in, I was like, 'You're coming home with me,' so he did."

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

Alvin, named after the fictional chipmunk, has been living on Corner Brook's west side for three weeks. And, slowly, he's gaining his independence. At first, Rideout bottle-fed him kitten formula every hour or two, which came with other challenges, said Rideout.

"After you bottle-feed them, they can't pee or poop on their own," she said. "So you bottle-feed them and then you have to have a little Q-Tip, you've got to rub him so the pee will come out, because [otherwise] they will blow up with pee and they'll die."

For the past few days, he's suckled on bananas, apples and small animal drops. Rideout's goal is to introduce him to solid food in the coming weeks.

Rideout, who works as a hairstylist, says the squirrel is becoming more energetic each day but is still well behaved.

"I think because he has a safe space, he has sticks and he has a nest, he doesn't have to try to find anywhere to build a nest," she said. "I think squirrels are destructive because they want somewhere to leave and they want something to eat. But he has an abundance of both."

There's a cage, complete with small sleeping quarters set up in Rideout's living room, but Alvin gets to run free most of the day. If he's not cuddling with Berlin, he's jumping around the furniture, and usually sleeps on Rideout's pillow for about seven hours every night.

"He'll just jump from furniture to furniture, he climbs the curtains, he's like a spider monkey. He's really active but he's still loveable at this point, he loves to cuddle. He sleeps [near my neck] every night, loves to cuddle, loves Berlin."

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

A wakeup call usually involves Alvin nibbling on Rideout's eyelashes, and then they take on the day together, with him in a little carrier.

"He'll come to work with me every day, and he'll sleep but when he wakes up and he starts chirping at me, I will give him the bottle, and then I'll  go back to work," she said. "Then, a couple hours later, he'll start chirping again and I'll bottle-feed him again. But then, as soon as we get home, we're just out [or] in bed, just hanging out, running around. He's not in the cage that often."

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