Those of us who care for animals in our “free time” (e.g. we haven’t gotten a degree nor do we have an office with a title that certifies us to do official things with animals) often get labels slapped on us like: “a bit nutty”, “just a dog person”, “crazy cat lady”, “softie”, “sucker”. Yet despite our patent lack of qualifications, it’s assumed that any animal problem that arises is something that we will not only know how to deal with but WANT to deal with.
I’ve had people show up at my front gate with baby fawns with the excuse “well, you ‘do’ animals, don’t you?” But shoot, I’ve been guilty of it myself. I find a baby turtle and not knowing anything whatsoever about these creatures, I immediately call my expert friend at the Mid Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise society assuming that she will be not only delighted to receive my call, but will drop all of her current activities, which might include eating dinner with her husband, and attend to “my” turtle’s needs. Clearly, a turtle right in front of me takes precedence over a dinner at a remote location. And yet, she does drop everything to answer my call.
As have I, when someone calls me about a flock of sheep in distress or a duckling who is about to be fed to a bald python (true story).
Maybe it’s the circles I move in which are admittedly “off the beaten path”, but more often than not I meet people whose level of compassion seems to extend beyond the normal bounds of human selfishness (because folks, when push comes to shove, would you rather watch your favorite TV program or clean up the dog’s mistake on the carpet? Be honest now. I thought so, I’m right there with you, provided said carpet is not in front of the TV).
The planets must have been aligned well for the animals yesterday because a lady — who normally rescues dogs — found a one ounce tiny baby bird in the Manassas, Virginia Lowe’s parking lot. Now, this lady just happens to be a pretty big fan of Mr. Newman Goat (though I do believe I remember her having murmured “I’m sure glad he’s yours” on some previous occasion). So I guess we can all blame Mr. Newman for the fact that this lady knew about the farm, called me, and subsequently drove more than an hour in the 100 degree heat to deliver a once ounce baby bird to the farm. Folks, that’s a long drive for one ounce of unidentified life. But what a lovely life she is!
She might be a quail or she might be a turkey, or she might be a guinea hen (I really rather hope she’s not an emu), but we’re reasonably sure that she is not a chicken. Which is fine – she doesn’t need to be a chicken if she doesn’t want to be, because she’s eating and pooping and making those baby bird peeping sounds and is as sweet and beautiful as any baby animal I’ve ever seen. Warm and cozy under the heat lamp this little mystery bird has got it made. Isn’t it odd? I have a grab bag of problems to choose from, never enough time to get done the crushing list of things that plague me…. and I’m pretty certain that, being an adult in the modern world, this kind dog rescue lady has got her own special custom-made grab bag of troubles.
Certainly I could have used a good night’s sleep last night instead of waking every 2 hours to make sure that the little bird was still alive and happy, and as the bird’s rescuer said “why am I spending my Friday night calling everyone I know to find out how to help this little creature?”
So…. why do we do these things?
Think about the small kindnesses you or your friends and loved ones may have done: stopping traffic to move a slow-moving turtle to the safety of the other side of the road; driving long distances to a rehabilitator to deliver injured wildlife – whose names you don’t know and whom you will never see again; calling in found dogs or cats to the humane society. It kind of feels good, doesn’t it? And behind all your actions are a host of incredible unsung heros who clean cages, offer free veterinary work, and spend hours and days and weeks working with animal shelters and rescue groups to find homes for the millions of pets dumped like so much yard sale offal by the other half of humanity.
I can’t speak for all of these amazing people, but I do know that my own burdens are somewhat lifted when I hold one ounce of innocent life in my hands and know that I’ve been charged to bring her up right.
Till next time,
Star Gazing Farm 501(c)3
A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats