Today I would like to share with you a special Christmas Memory that I think many of you will enjoy. It’s about Stubby, our first educational groundhog and one that I think about every Christmas season.
Earlier in the spring of this particular year, a farmer was working with a backhoe when he accidentally dug into a groundhog den. Sadly, the mother groundhog was in the den delivering her babies. She was killed, as were all the babies except one.
Most farmers I know would have killed this little one, but not this man. He felt sympathetic toward the little creature and called me right away. I then began raising Stubby as I did every other groundhog I have ever raised. However, Stubby had one problem: he thought he was a human and not a groundhog.
I tried, unsuccessfully, to condition him for release, but he was just not buying what I was selling. To him, I was Mom in every sense of the word. When he saw me, he wanted to be with me, and he had bonded to me pretty well. One day, Ron, my husband, decided to help. He got the idea to roll Stubby across the floor in an attempt to condition him to be scared of humans. Well, that did not go as he had planned. When Stubby stopped rolling, instead of avoiding Ron, he would run towards Ron, wanting Ron to send him rolling again! HA! We continued to try other things to condition him for release, and then we finally hit a point where we knew it was a lost cause and requested consent to use him in education.
December finally arrived that year and we decorated the house for Christmas. Shortly afterwards, Ron and I had to make a business trip to Kidron, Ohio. We were gone all day and when we walked in the back door late at night, we saw cellophane wrappers all over the floor. As we walked into the dining room we saw the same thing. We couldn’t figure out where in the world the papers came from until we walked into the living room. There the answer was very clear. Stubby was joyfully sitting in my chair, licking a miniature candy cane. He had figured out how to get his cage door open and he stole every candy cane off of the Christmas tree that he could reach!
I think he ate at least 16 of those candy canes! Surprisingly, he did not seem to get a real sugar buzz. From that day forward, it was clear to me he had a real sweet tooth. HA! Now, every time is see candy canes I think of Stubby. He was one very special little groundhog.
~ Fran Kitchen
Copyright 2016 – 2017 Fran Kitchen
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