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Woman befriends white squirrel, photographs him in creative ways in her backyard

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Considered the ‘White Squirrel Capital,’ Bowling Green is one of the few cities in the nation that is home to the unique animal. Meanwhile, a Bowling Green woman has befriended one and has been photographing it in creative ways in her own backyard.

“Today is day number six that I have not seen him. Unless he’s dead... I have no doubt I’ll see him when he gets hungry-- he’ll come,” said Jan Trabue, Bowling Green therapist.

In a nutshell, Jan Trabue has something special squirreled away in her Bowling Green backyard.

“I cluck two nuts together, and call his name and try to guide him down to the staging area,” explained Trabue.

The white squirrel, named Marty Lou by Trabue, was rescued as a baby in November of 2019.

“He was found on the ground as a baby, no mom around, I don’t know if something happened to the mom or the nest or if it got destroyed,” she said.

He was rehabilitated by local wildlife group, Wild for Life, and released back into the wild in Trabue’s backyard.

“He’s acclimated to me. He knows I’m going to give them nuts.”

So, Trabue has taken her passions of creativity and wildlife to photograph Marty Lou in some unique and festive settings all in her backyard.

“I do have my staging area ready because it’s just really tricky. He may or may not come each day. So I have to notice that he’s in my yard, I go out, I call him-- I cluck two nuts together, and call his name and try to guide him down to the staging area,” explained Trabue. “So I did that a lot around Christmas time-- I had him making up his bed in front of the Christmas tree. It’s tricky. I shoot on continuous.”

As Trabue wandered around her backyard Friday, she was unsure if the photogenic rodent would make an appearance.

“He’s wild you know, and, and wildlife is not polite all the time. I kinda look at him as this may be our last time,” said Trabue about every time she photographs him.

After about fifteen minutes of hanging out in her backyard and occasionally calling his name while banging nuts together, sure enough, Marty Lou appeared back on ‘set’ and in front of the camera.

Trabue explained that she doesn’t have to Photoshop any items to make the pictures look ‘humanlike’ but rather just has to remove wires from photos while editing.

“They’re not composite images, a composite image would be where I take, take him and then take my setup and combine them. He’s actually manipulating the objects.”

The nutty passion has inspired the Bowling Green therapist to create a children’s book using the photos she has captured of Marty Lou.

“It’s called The Outlook Book. So it teaches children to change their outlook, and it gives them ways to do that,” explained Trabue.

“I’ll give you a little snippet of it-- ‘So what is your outlook? How do you see things? Do you like the feelings it brings? Remember, stinky thoughts lead to feeling mad? happy thoughts, however, lead to feeling glad.’

Trabue uses the book in her therapy sessions with children, and also encourages parents can learn from it too as it helps teach them effective ways to communicate emotions with children.

“I’ve always made homemade books to help children cope and this is a fancy homemade book. Generally, I just sort of write it out and draw my own pictures for children but this will be a good way for me to work with children on fears, angry outbursts, anxiety. Parents can use that too. I mean cognitive behavioral therapy is one approach that can be used with children that’s effective.”

As quickly as Marty Lou scurried on the scene, he was back to squirreling around in the wild.

“I kind of worry about him because, you know, he was raised in isolation. So I think he’s not very sociable. Although I think he became quite sociable at mating season,” Trabue joked.

While maybe more humanized than other bushy-tailed animals, this rare breed of a squirrel never really forgot its wild roots after all.

“You just can’t really expect wildlife to appear when you’re ready. You can’t demand that it appear when you’re ready. It just happens and that’s what makes it such a gift,” expressed Trabue.

Trabue’s book with Marty Lou photo titled, ‘The Outlook Book’ can be pre-ordered on Amazon and will be available on October 12.

The local store, Candle Makers downtown has a limited supply of the book at this time.

Marty lou has a Facebook page you can follow along with all his fun photos called ‘Marty Lou’s Wild Life.’

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