For about as long as she can remember, Debby Cantlon says, friends and strangers have brought her animals in need: injured crows and blue...

For about as long as she can remember, Debby Cantlon says, friends and strangers have brought her animals in need: injured crows and blue herons, sick raccoons, all manner of critters needing nursing back to health.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when someone Cantlon did not know called Sept. 6 to ask if she’d care for a newborn squirrel found at the base of a tree somewhere near Renton.

Cantlon, who lives with her husband, Maqsood Ahmed, in View Ridge, said the squirrel was probably no more than one week old; it had yet to open its eyes. The caller had found it near what he thought was its mother, dead, most likely from poisoning.

“Ninety-five percent of those animals that come to me, come to me battered and beaten and bruised,” Cantlon says, “nearly dead because people are so careless.”

So Cantlon took in the tiny creature and began caring for him. But this time, she found herself with an unlikely nurse’s aide: her pregnant Papillon, Mademoiselle Giselle, who actively encouraged the orphan to join her own litter, born Sept. 9.

For Cantlon, who has cancer, helping wounded animals is a healing activity. And in that spirit, she says, came the name she bestowed on the young squirrel, Finnegan: “As in, ‘Finnegan, begin again.’ “

Dean Rutz: drutz@seattletimes.com