The Daily Dot, the Internet’s hometown newspaper, is launching this summer—but we’ve already started searching out the best untold stories in the Web’s community. Here’s one from correspondent Fruzsina Eördögh, about two parents who posted a video of their daughter that some viewers found a little too viral.
She’s known on the Internet as “Dead Squirrel Girl”: Thea, a three-year-old dancing in what some see as macabre fashion with a just-killed rodent. The video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times — and the parents have been judged by the Internet and found wanting. But instead of reblogging the video with a snappy witticism about parenting, the Daily Dot actually called Thea’s mom and dad.
Here’s their story.
Three years ago, Sean Leonard, an acupuncturist and artist in Sarasota, Fla., was out walking his greyhound Ivy. They came upon a squirrel and before Leonard could intervene, Ivy snapped its neck with a ferocious shake. Leonard returned home to tell his wife, who suggested they collect the squirrel and bury it in their garden, as a gentle way of introducing their 3-year-old daughter, Thea, to the concept of death.
When the parents re-emerged from the house after collecting a shovel, Thea had picked up the squirrel—and Leonard, who had wanted to document the event, had his camera rolling.
“She was in ecstasy holding the squirrel, snuggling it,” said Leonard. “She was smothering it with love, and at that point we knew nothing would be accomplished by stripping her of it.”