“Look! What’s that floating out there in the middle of the lake?” queried Virginia Moore Tuesday evening, as she and her brother, Terry Moore, of Sedona, Ariz., and friend, Judi Paul, of Chocorua were paddling on Conway Lake.

“Looks like a piece of driftwood,” said Judi.

“I don’t think so. I’m paddling over to check it out,” said Virginia, who is the executive director of the Conway Area Humane Society, and who is well-known as a lover and rescuer of animals, mostly cats and dogs, but now she can add another species to her list:

Squirrels.

That’s right, a grey squirrel, to be exact.

“I thought it might be a snake; Judi thought it might be junk. But I saw something move. So, I paddled over and saw it was … a squirrel,” Virginia, said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “It was swimming, in the middle of the lake. It was doing a dog paddle — no, make that a squirrel paddle,” laughed Virginia, who was taking a day off Thursday with family and friends, prior to getting ready for the Conway Area Humane Society’s upcoming Walk for the Animals and Bark in the Park Pet Expo fund-raiser, set for North Conway’s Schouler Park Sept. 21.

As far as we know, there will not be a squirrel category, but one never knows.

“Out there on the water,” continued Virginia, “I put him on the end of my paddle. He kept jumping off. I got him on the end of the paddle again and onto the bow of my kayak. I paddled with my arms, because he was sitting on the paddle” she added.

Judi, meanwhile, videotaped and photographed the action, as the flotilla headed back toward shore.

“We got three-quarters of the way from shore and he jumped out again,” she said. “So, I scooped him up in my Bark in the Park cap, and into the boat and sat beside me. Then, two feet from shore, Judi was so busy filming, that her kayak rammed into mine, so the squirrel landed on my foot! I screamed ‘Holy _ _ _ _! He landed on my [bleepin’] foot! We were laughing hysterically.”

He jumped out off the bow of the kayak and scurried away to freedom.

All this, the same week that 64-year-old U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad made her triumphant swim from Cuba to Key West, Fla., achieving her distance swim in about 53 hours.

“I have three messages,” said Nyad upon reaching the shore in Florida Monday. “One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”

She became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without using a shark cage — likewise, Virginia did not notice any such equipment on the squirrel on Conway Lake.

Due to his scampering off, we have no idea of what Bucky the Grey Squirrel’s take on his ordeal was, but Virginia shared her thoughts about what might have brought the squirrel out into the waters of Conway Lake.

“I have no idea of what he was doing, swimming out there,” said Virginia, “except maybe he was caught by a hawk or perhaps an eagle that dropped him out over the water.  He seemed very gentle and appreciative that we were saving his life. Either that, or he was just worn out by the time we got to him.”

All in all, quite a story about life here in the valley, where there are always a million stories under — and in — The Sun.

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