My Dudaś: A Woman’s Love for her Favorite Squirrel [Doc Short]

Dudaś is a one-of-a-kind squirrel, and his relationship with his human mother is captured in this beautiful documentary short from filmmaker Tom Krawczyk.

This one had me in tears, but not because any human or animal was harmed. Nope, this one had me ugly-crying because I love my pets, and I can’t imagine having to set them free eventually because it’s a wild animal with wild animal instincts. But that’s precisely what filmmaker Tom Krawczyk’s mother did.

During the 2020 pandemic, space was limited, and resources were capped for animal rescues, shelters, rehabilitation centers, etc. So when a baby squirrel was abandoned by its mother, and no facility could take it, Krawczyk’s mother decided to raise the critter herself. She named him Duduś. And what resulted was a beautiful, unconventional relationship.

In the New York Times documentary short below, Tom Krawczyk weaves the tale of his mother and her “favorite son,” her squirrel Dudaś. This is a must-watch documentary for any animal lover! (Again, if you’re like me, get those tissues handy!)

During the summer of 2020, I returned home to Chicago during a break from my studies at the Lodz Film School in Poland. When I got there, my mother quietly walked me into a room where she gently pulled a strange, hairless creature out of a shoe box. It looked as if it had plummeted to earth from another planet.

“He’s sleeping,” she whispered as she opened the box. A tiny head peeked out from the mountain of towels, blankets and a homemade heating pad made out of a used white sock and rice. “What is that?” I asked. I squinted my eyes as I gently moved the blanket to expose the animal’s torso. “Is that a squirrel?” I looked over at her, and even though it was dark, her beaming smile lit up the room. “Yes,” she nodded.

My mother had found the baby squirrel abandoned in her yard. She contacted animal shelters nearby, but they struggled to take in more animals during the Covid pandemic, so my mother began caring for him. My intuition told me to pick up a camera. I knew something special was happening. My mother, a Polish immigrant who had raised me by herself, had been dealing with her newly empty nest after I left for school, and I knew the joy that raising the squirrel would bring her.

After returning to Poland, I saw my mother raise him as she raised me — with meticulous love and care. But he was a wild animal, and eventually my mother had to do what all mothers do: let her child go out into the world. In the short documentary above, I document their journey together.