– As told by Dunkirk Dave’s handler, Bob Will
As a young boy I brought home a sick and injured groundhog and nursed it back to health after many months. Eventually, I released the groundhog back to nature. During this time I researched groundhogs because it was difficult to find anyone who knew anything about or even spoke well of groundhogs. No one seemed to know anything or care about this special animal that I discovered to be quite fascinating and unique. Throughout my teenage years I studied groundhogs in the wild and wildlife journals. I was very happy that my wonderful parents allowed me to take care of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.
Besides my parents, the most influential persons affecting my life in a major way were, older friends of mine, Jack and Betty Cantillon. As an employed teenager, Jack and Betty Cantillon recognized I had other talents. And, with their great persuasion and encouragement convinced me to instead pursue college certification to become a Special Education Teacher. Their guidance was perfect and I am forever grateful for their insights and determination that helped me begin a lifetime career I would love and appreciate.
My studies of groundhogs continued during my college years studying to be a teacher. Eventually I brought groundhogs into the classroom so the true facts about them could be understood. Of course, every Groundhog Day a real groundhog would be studied by students outside to see if there could be an accurate prediction of early spring weather.
I also became a State-licensed wildlife rehabilitator to legally care for sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife. During this period of time, I met another person interested in groundhogs and caring for wildlife– Bill Verge. Bill has been a valuable assistant caring for all the groundhogs and other wildlife.
Now I exclusively take care of small mammals, releasing them back to the wild whenever possible. Always I have rehabilitated many groundhogs. Consequently, there was always a groundhog around to show students in my classroom at school. Leonard Catalano, head school custodian, mentioned this groundhog visitor to our local newspaper staff.
One Groundhog Day, Ron Gustafson and Keith Sheldon, editors for the Dunkirk Evening Observer, scheduled pictures, wrote the article, and named the groundhog, “Dunkirk Dave”. After the original story was published, our local Dunkirk Dave groundhog became more well known.
I have used a groundhog for over 58 years to predict the coming of spring weather. Dunkirk Dave is the second-longest predicting groundhog. Also the only animal honored on the calendar is the groundhog.
Following a personal visit with Dunkirk Dave and family, Jeb Bobseine, Massachusetts newspaper editor wrote “Every day is
Groundhog Day at Bob Will’s house.“