If you’ve known me for a while, you’ll know that the last seven or so years have been a challenge. But this year… this year already feels different. It’s a feeling of a different energy level that I have no intention of questioning; no, I’m just going to ride this one as long as it lasts and see where I end up. And I’ve already had a very auspicious beginning.
On just the second day of the year some strange and, ultimately, wonderful things happened in the area of Wildlife Rescue. On the morning of January 2nd, the news filtered down to me that there was a suffering raccoon in need of help well north of the city. As more information was gathered by the people in the rescue chat, however, the situation began to turn very dark indeed, and the ending was horrific for all concerned. A neighbour of the finder had, apparently, “trapped” the poor soul and was going to “take care of it.” This can have so many connotations, but in the hands of a non-rescue person, none of them are good. We all had to put our heads down, swear a lot, cry a little, and just try to move on from this nasty turn of events. Very frustrating and disheartening, to put it mildly.
But then a rather remarkable thing happened. In our raccoon rescue group, one of the other members sent around a screenshot from a community FB group she belonged to, which was a posted “warning” to other residents that a raccoon was in distress on a neighbour’s lawn, so that people out walking their dogs (in particular) would know to steer clear of the poor beast. Somehow, before I even clicked on the screenshot to read it, I think I already knew that the poster was going to be a friend of mine, for it came as no real surprise when I read his name at the bottom. This old friend, Greg, lives less than a 10-minute drive from us, so I immediately got dressed and raced over to his home to help out. Before I got there, the woman who had posted the screenshot, Annie, had corralled the suffering animal and was keeping her calm in a net while she waited for me to arrive with a proper bin for transportation. With not much effort at all, and just a small amount of hissing (all from the raccoon!), we managed to get her shifted and contained. At that point, we received word from a third group member that he was on his way to the raccoon sanctuary known as Mally’s, and would swing by to pick up the sweet girl and take her there for a full assessment and whatever treatment she needed. (Hopefully the distemper test comes back negative so she may heal up and eventually return to her old stomping grounds in the spring. All in all, this was a wonderful way to at least partially cleanse from the tragedy of the morning, with the additional benefit of me being able to contact my good friend to help him out and set him up with some information and ideas for any future suffering wildlife encounters. I returned home with a bit of an adrenaline rush (which I always do after a successful rescue or transport), and relaxed for a while.
Some time later, a call came in that a dark-eyed junco had been the unfortunate victim of a window strike in a town about 40 minutes west of us. Another driver in the Ontario Wildlife Transport group went to pick up the bird from the finder and bring it most of the way to where we live, where I was to take the poor thing from her and bring him the rest of the way to the Toronto Wildlife Centre. Sadly, however, just as I was heading to my car to drive to the meeting point, I received the news that the injuries were just too great and the wee bird had passed en route to me. Saddened, I headed back up to our apartment, comforted only by the thought that at least the poor thing had not been alone at the end, which I feel is the mark of a successful pick-up: reaching the suffering soul before it passes, regardless of the eventual outcome. Still, it was definitely not a happy time for any of us involved in the rescue. I sat with these thoughts for a while, when yet another call came in – this time directly from TWC where I also volunteer as a driver when they need me (I have my finger in a lot of pies these days) – about a second dark-eyed junco who had also struck a window and needed to get to TWC right away. This finder lived generally between us and the Centre, so I raced down to pick her up and sped across the city to the care centre, arriving a little after normal closing time, but they stuck around because they knew I was coming. This bird survived the journey and, from first observations, appears to have an excellent chance of healing enough to be releasable in the future. In this way, I feel like the second junco completed the trip the first junco attempted to make, and a circle was closed.
So, to sum up: on January 2nd I made two successful rescues and transports that each completed a journey of another animal of the same species who did not fare as well earlier in the day. It’s not so surprising in the case of the raccoon; but the odds against two separate calls for dark-eyed juncos on the same day in January are very long indeed. I absolutely realized immediately that the Fates are sending me a message about the possibilities for 2023, and that message has been very gratefully received.
I hope this post is the start of a semi-regular blog letting everyone know of the amazing stories I encounter each and every rescue I undertake. You know I love a good story; now it’s time to set my mind to sharing them more often. See you here again very soon.
For more information about Mally’s Third Chance Raccoon Rescue and Rehabilitation Sanctuary (and in particular if you wish to make a much-needed donation to their cause), please visit their website or their Facebook page. Thank you!