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

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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.”

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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

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