Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The signs of spring

Often, we celebrate the beginning of spring when we see the first crocus popping their little purple heads out of the crusty frozen ground. Even in February in the south, there are flowers bloomin; (the forsythia, wild quince, a variety of native shrubs, and the daffodils coloring the landscape with dabbles of yellows waving at us like the are some locals watching the train as it passes with new visitors comin into Dodge . But how could it be, the mark of spring comes from the falling of a bunch of old leaves from 20 feet up in a tree, and seconds later, flailing little pink bodies fall hard onto the mulch with a thump. YES...baby squirrel season is here.....and they are literally falling out of the trees, not because they are ready, but because of the wild weather...winds that cause nests to lose their hold, or an overly busy mama fluffing up the leaf sheets, or even upheaval from a mob of crows looking for an afternoon snack.
God help us...it's going to be a LONG year.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kiss a squirrel today!

Valentines Day - ahhhh, time to spread around all that love and such. What better reason do you need to say "thank you" to all those dedicated souls that take care of all the animals in need. So spread some love around today, tell someone that you love them, show them that you care, and if you happen to know a rescuer, tell them today that you appreciate them, give them a hug, and say, it's just "because."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"The Reminder": The Lesson of Passage

One of the things I have learned with wildlife rehab is about grieving, second guessing and following your instincts as well as your protocal. There are just times when you have gone by the book, and the animal in your care naturally passes OR you have to help with that process because of the lacking of QoL and overall suffering experienced. This is the part I am most challenged, but many respects, there are huge lessons here for me, and I suspect for most of us.

I don't understand the reasoning, especially when hours, and days and months have gone in to one animal in hopes of release back to the wild only to one day find it dead in the bottom of it's enclosure.

This morning, I sit and reflect on the loss of my recent adult possum, who for some unknown reason died in her sleep yesterday morning. I walked through all the steps in her care in my head and on paper. There was no logical reason. Of course I could have done a necropsy to understand more, but with some, it's one of those things that you have to have time for, and the head about to do it.

I realize that grieving comes in different forms. I found myself unable to sleep last night, going over and over in my head and in my dreams what I could have done differently. I wonder if it was just her time, and the dog that caught her did so because she was slowing down anyway.

People say to me...it's just a possum...why would you waste that much time, energy and emotion helping "that animal" when there are a million more out there.

My answer, "because you won't do it. That's why I do it. Because it has a place in the circle of life, and deserves a chance. Because...it's the right thing to do....and of course, because I LOVE Opposums and all wild creatures."
I have seen too many animals pass in this life time. But I have to remember something a friend of mine told me when I had to make the heartbreaking decision to help my one dogs Meme move on to a happier place. To animals, this transition, this moving to the next best place, is no big deal.

I realize now that we humans make it a big deal because we don't know where we go from here...sure if we are religious, or believe in the pearly gates and a place called Heaven, we hope we have been "good enuf" to get a free pass there, for the fear of the "other" fire and brimstone.

I read somewhere that; "right now we cannot do anything about dying, so there is no point fearing death itself". Humm...interesting thought!
A healthy fear of death would be the fear of dying unprepared, as this is a fear we can do something about right? We are encouraged to prepare for a peaceful and successful death and are also inspired to make the most of our very precious human life instead of wasting it right? On the other hand, if we base our life on a realistic awareness of our mortality, we shall regard our spiritual development as far more important than the attainments of this world, and we shall view our time in this world principally as an opportunity to cultivate positive minds such as patience, love, compassion, and wisdom - right?

Well I realized today, this is why animals find this passing no big deal. It's because they have lived ALL of their lives authentically, just as they were supposed to. They don't have to worry about when it's their time or are fearful about passing away with regret, or a mind empowered by the virtuous karma they created.

They are pure in the sense of themselves, just as it should be!!!

So my experience today, and with every other death, has taught me about how to LIVE my life. With every passing of every little furry one, I understand better...how to be today, and not so much worry about tomorrow.

Thank you Ms. P for that reminder in life and in your death.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Honor a Vulture today!

What's cookin Wilma? Bronasaurus soup Fred your favorite!

Don't you love the flintstones...they has a pet Taradactal - remember? Here is one of my favorite Birds of Prey...the Vulture. Yes they are a protected bird by Federal Laws, they fall under the Bird of Prey Migratory Bird act. They are the perfect example of a bird form that still looks like it never evolved from thousands of years ago until today. Yes even with that crazy looking exterior which looks scary to some, they are a protected bird. You can't do anything harmful to these "day time street sweepers". But then why would you? Well some people in my "hood" don't like them. Yes another opportunity for me to "educate" someone on where they fit in the food chain and why they are so necessary for road "clean up"; keeping disease down, and well worth having as part of our "circle of animals" that keep this eco system balanced. Besides, they are a super cool looking bird, and funny to boot. Here is one eating a squirrel for breakfast. By the way...it was already dead!

Did you know:
  • That vultures are found on every continent except in Antarctia.

  • Research shows that the bare skin on their head may play an important role in thermoregulation (a term you hear more often when referring to reptiles)

  • A group of vultures is occasionally called a venue, and when circling in the air a group of vultures is called a kettle (take that to your next cocktail party!)

  • Several species including the culture has a good sense of smell, unusual for most other raptors and are able to smell the dead they focus upon from great heights (see this big girl knew what she was doing!)

  • Vultures seldom attack healthy animals, but may kill the wounded or sick - another reason they are important to our ecosystem. Did you know that vultures have been seen in famous paintings around battlefields throught history.

  • They gorge themselves when prey is abundant, till their crop bulges, and sit, sleepy or half torpid, to digest their food (what a life). They also don't bring food in their mouth or talons to babies, they disgorge it from the crop to feed their young

  • They can eat things which most animals might die from. For example, the Botulinum toxin, that which causes botulism does not effect them. Actually they can eat rotten flesh containing anthrax and cholera baterias. And the vulture is not only a winged cleaning agent, they are smart. When food is presented that is too thick for its beak to open, it waits for a larger scavenger to eat first.

  • Still this is not to say that many of our environmental substances and pollution have not made it's impact on our wildlife. They are still exposed to toxins which can kill them from the land, air and water. FOr example, because of all the poisons and toxins used in processing and manufacturing plants in India and South Asia, some species are almost extinct. Here is a interesting fact on how the circle of life works....because of the decline in vultures in these regions, both areas have been challenged with hygiene problems. In India as carcasses of dead animals now tend to rot, or be eaten by rats and wild dogs rather than be tidied up by vultures. Rabies among these other scavengers is a major health threat. India has one of the world's highest incidences of rabies.

Take the time to learn more about these wonderful animals, and celebrate their presence - appreciate their service to us and the environment. Do your part...keep the earth clean for everyone. Learn from the vultures.