Poor little squigg… he’d been attacked by a dog and was lying freezing on the leaves not responding to anything but definitely still breathing.
I checked him over and while we could see wet tooth marks and drool on his coat, there were no obvious broken limbs or visible wounds, though always have to expect the possibility of hidden internal injuries.
Hoping he was maybe just in shock and had gotten cold, I tucked him right into my coat next to my body to warm him up and see if he might revive enough to be able to get himself safely off the ground.
His torso warmed up and his arms started moving a bit but I still got absolutely no reaction from his eyes, whiskers or face at all (bad sign) and his back legs and tail were still freezing cold and completely floppy… dogs often shake their prey hard, so I suspect his lower spine was damaged.
He was still alive in this picture, but after quite a while warming and monitoring him, I had to decide what to do for the best… part of me just wanted to tuck him up in the deep carpet of coppery leaves at the base of his beech tree and let nature take its course, but the sun was setting and the temp was dropping, so I just couldn’t in good conscience leave him to slowly freeze to death, maybe in pain but unable to move, and/or to be savaged by more passing pooches (several more came past just in the time my friend and I were standing there).
His back legs clearly weren’t working so he wouldn’t survive in the wild even if he did eventually wake up, so no point nursing him at home… so with a heavy heart I dispatched him humanely.
After committing to it, I realised I’ve never killed a mammal myself before, & especially not just with my hands… it made me feel way more emotional than I expected, holding my thumb firmly under his jaw until he passed out and then slipped away… the worst part was feeling his unconscious body still try to take a last ditch breath of survival but no air could reach them… that made me cry, feeling that in my hands, I’ll admit it… horrible, even though I know it was kinder than leaving him to suffer… a really tough one.
So sorry little one 🙁 I’ll put you to good use…