Each Life Matters, Exploring Empathy For Animals

A squirrel rescued by John Morrison in Revelstoke, BC

John Morrison lives in the nearby mountain community of Revelstoke, BC.

A muscular, avid hiker, John is known for his long career in photography that has taken him around the world shooting advertising and fashion.

He is also well known in his community and beyond for his absolute love and devotion to animals.

This article is about his love for animals, in particular, his latest unique find.

Here is his very recent post on his facebook page, October 5th:

“Looks like I have a guest staying for Thanksgiving. Today, just a kilometer out of town heading East on the Trans Canada, I saw something like a leaf standing upright in the center of the highway.

Driving by it bothered me as I was thinking that it looked a bit like a squirrel but was not moving. I can’t let things like that go, so I did a U turn and miraculously, with all of the traffic passing, this little soul was on the center line.

After pulling over and scooping him/her up I saw the horrific injuries. Imagine the pain. He/she was shaking like crazy and frightened, lost and just sitting wondering what happened. I’ve felt like that at times; I’m sure we all have at times.

My friend Hans, who is a wealth of medical knowledge, applied some ointment and now, four hours later after being kept close to my body for warmth, this little one is squeaking, climbing all over me, and ready to head home.”

A squirrel rescued by John Morrison in Revelstoke, BC

John received a big media response from his post. People offered praise and gratitude, some offered supplies, and many asked for updates on how the little guy/girl was doing. Here was John’s thoughtful response:

“I thank all you folks for the kind words but any positive thoughts for a little creature who now is calm, not alone, and asleep on my lap feeling secure, sure are welcome.

The tribute goes there and to you all not towards me. I fall sadly short and that’s pretty apparent. Knowledge, technology, even wisdom won’t do any living creature a damn bit of good without simple compassion and empathy.

I’m certain many of us have been the squirrel, hurt and damaged, sitting in utter hopelessness alone one time or another. When someone cares and shows it, and actually does something, it has more value than any thing one can buy.

Just listening to the breathing and feeling the warmth of an animal in peace confirms all of this. Peace is realized in the simplest of ways.”

I wanted to share a few samples of the kind comments that were made on his post, anonymously of course:

“I agree with you , every life matters. I cringe when I look at the wound and bless you for going back to pick him up. I love squirrels and hope he/she heals quickly and can go home again.”

“Poor little guy…reminds of the one that ran into me crossing the road. I called you for help and thank goodness he made it. You’re a gentle caring soul. Oh and the poor deer we found and how you looked after him. Not many out there like you, John Morrison.”

“Compassion for all sentient beings, good karma my friend.”

“Great job. You made the world a little better with this act. Cheers.”

John Morrison, Revelstoke, BC

Saving animals is not new to John Morrison; he has saved many. I wanted to know what other creatures he has rescued and why he does it. Here is what he had to say:

“I don’t like the term rescue. Rescue implies we ought to be rewarded like we did some heroic thing. This is not that. It is just very basic human decency that’s all.

It was my mother and father who instilled in me as a youngster to be kind to animals. My parents always encouraged both my brother and I to have compassion and respect for all living things. I believe this is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give to a child because it stays with them and brings endless rewards throughout life.

Compassion is such a powerful mechanism. Sadly, being compassionate often is perceived as being soft. It’s the complete opposite. I guess it depends upon how you identify strength.

The squirrel did more for me than I did for it when you think about it from different angles. The squirrel allowed me an opportunity to see deeper into who I am and to explore my heart.

As seen by the many social media comments, many people engaged with the core values we need so much to engage with if there is to be any hope for this earth. That little squirrel touched so many lives and those people got to witness just a little light in their lives by showing concern and kindness.

Words are just words lacking power. Emotion is the engine that empowers word and causes vibrational changes to occur all around us as we see with the many emails I have received regarding this tiny soul.”

John Morrison, Revelstoke, BC

John agreed to share a few stories about some animals he found in the past.

“Five or six years ago, a week before Halloween, I was driving to Vernon. It was a rainy, cold day . I was leaving Sicamous on that slow straight stretch when I saw off to the right in the tall grass, a black thing that looked like an injured bird.

I went back and it turned out to be a dot of a baby kitten no bigger than a baseball. It’s eyes still had that milky film . It was shaking and did that ‘big cat’ thing at me, hissing and being very scary, which was laughable.

I spent an hour knocking on doors but no one was home. Maybe a hawk picked up and dropped the kitten?

Anyway, we went to Vernon and the kitten purred its head off riding on my neck and shoulder, there and back. He still purrs when I walk into the room.

I’ve picked up squirrels on the Bayview Extension in Toronto in rush hour traffic to have them come alive in my van while driving. Also, skunks hit by cars and no, I was never sprayed. Animals know when you are helping them and you approach them in the right way.

There was a baby deer I kept in my house in California that lived with my cats, slept with them, and was fed by bottle until it was well enough to go to a place that housed animals like this.

I had a shrew for 14 years which is guiness book of records stuff!

Currently, I have dogs and cats.”

It is now two days past the day John found the squirrel. I had to get an update on the squirrel’s condition.

“The night of the day I found the squirrel I sat until 3 am in a chair here with him/her in my hands cupped by my chest for warmth and comfort for it.

I couldn’t take it to bed with all my animals, although they looked at it then at me and back again . They knew and were sympathetic to what was going on with me as well…I was wiped out and the little one was chirping, purring (yes squirrels purr), and sleeping, even nibbling on my fingers.

I couldn’t sleep sitting up so made a nice nest in a cat kennel and tucked it in thinking all was well . Reaching in when it was morning, I felt that so familiar coldness and stillness. I was sick all day. I kick myself because when I found the squirrel it had climbed out of the covers and was laying on top.

It died alone and likely cold which is what I did not want to have happen. I think both eyes were damaged and so it was blind. Fear and anxiety likely caused the death.

So you see these events allow for us to get a better look at who we are and I am disgusted with myself for this. My sleep came at a price which will never override my sadness remembering always that this happened. To have the passing happen, if it was going to at all, with warmth and a sense of security, was more important than sleep.

I’d have kept this squirrel because now, this late in the season, it would have been unable to find its den and stash of food for winter, and being blind, hadn’t a chance alone.

It’s not a happy ending unfortunately.

When we get in tune and quiet our hearts and listen to the tiny voice within to be caring and just empathetic we will be caused pain and heartache, but we also will explore our core more deeply and come away, I hope, as deeper humans with more substance and more character than mere ‘personality.'”

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