So here is something I have thought about doing over the years. If I ever get my big girl pants on and decide to travel in an RV or some other form around the US, I would like to see a bunch of national parks. BUT what I ALSO want to do is visit a ton of animal sanctuaries, especially wildlife sanctuaries/rehab facilities. I really enjoyed the time i spent with the Peace River Wildlife Center, and one of the things that i have really liked about living in Florida is the wildlife. It is freaking amazing!!
One of my favorite things to do here at the beach is to watch the pelicans dive bomb for their food from the sky, or fly so low and close to the water that I’m amazed that they don’t get their wings wet while doing it. If you have ever seen a pelican dive, or even if you haven’t, then you will want to check out this video on YouTube: Pelicans Dive Bombing Once they enter the water, they open up their throat pouch, which can hold as much as three GALLONS of water, and catch fish, which they then turn around in their pouch, if need be, to swallow the fish whole, face first.
I watch the sandpipers run up and down the sand, in and out of the path of the waves. I watch the willets near the shoreline. If I’m lucky, I get to see a great egret or snowy egret stalk some prey (ahem, fish). And on the really awesome days, i get to see dolphins. Of all the days I have spent mornings or sunsets at the beach, I have only been lucky to see some jumping out of the water. (I used to think they were playing but have since found out that they do that to be able to see the fish better, or to cover more “ground” than just by swimming.)
The pelicans closest to me (the camera) are juveniles, which you can tell by their coloring on their heads and necks (gray). Toward the middle of the photo and at the back, you will see two with white necks. Those are adults. They don’t get their adult coloring until they reach the age of three.
Anyway, I digress. Anyone who has worked in animal welfare knows it doesn’t pay well. It is a true “labor of love.” One of the last things those folks do have is time to market themselves or publicize their work. Many depend on volunteer labor to get everything done. What I would like to do is travel to these sanctuaries, volunteer if possible, talk to the folks who work there or run them, and then write about them or get their good deeds known to others. Still brainstorming the best ways to do that. TRANSLATION: Anyone have any good ideas about that? (Instagram, YouTube, podcast?) Please comment below!
Hand in hand with this idea is another one that occurred to me while on a recent run. There don’t seem to be a searchable database of these types of organizations/wildlife sanctuaries. I can find some for animal shelters but not wildlife rehabilitation centers or sanctuaries.
The librarian in me will never die — I would love to create something like that for others like me who care about the animals of the world and how we can protect them, donate to help them, or volunteer our labor as well. While I do think I am adept at learning new things, a software engineer or database creator I am not. However I am sure there is someone out there who could help or at least point me in the right direction to get this idea cracking. So if you are reading this blog and know of someone who can assist, even in some small way, with info, ideas etc., PLEASE share this post with them! I know I can create a web page that organizes that info in possibly a table format, etc., but there has to be a better way!
Information I’d like to include about the sanctuaries/rehab facilities would be:
Name of sanctuary
Populations/Species of animals cared for
Information on donating to the sanctuary (via links, posssibly)
Information on volunteering at the sanctuary (via links, possibly)
Information on the mission or vision statement of that sanctuary
Thoughts on the sanctuaries that I do visit as well as links to my writeup/podcast/video, etc., on that sanctuary
Any other ideas any of you might have out there? I know I am not the only person in the world who loves and appreciates wildlife and wants to do whatever they can to help them in these times of climate change and shrinking habitats. I would like to use my talents and skills to do my part. And, I feel like this suits my me more than pursuing a marine biology degree because science and math are truly not my strong suits. I felt like for those few months of school just recently, I was pounding my head against a wall, trying to do something which I am just not naturally suited for. Writing, educating, organizing and speaking are where I excel much more.
What do you think? A worthwhile idea, or am I just crazy??
Clearly, it would take time to develop but over time, little things add up. My thinking is that this adventure of traveling to the sanctuaries could start late 2021.
Sorry for the long delay between posts. I’ve had this one almost done for a while, but I’ve been fighting some feelings here on my own which has cut down my motivation to get some things done. I’ve made some decisions though, which I will talk about in another post. However, I would like to get this out there today, so here goes nothing…
I’m not a religious person, but I do have a spiritual side of me, I guess. I don’t feel like when you die, you completely cease to exist. I think your energy is still out there, in the universe, somehow. And when i feel like I need guidance or a little extra “lift” sometimes, I ask for it. One time, I was out for a run, and I just felt so tired. So much that I just felt like walking and throwing in the towel on that run that day. And I said, aloud, “I think I could use a little help today.” And I swear, I felt a hand at my back. A gentle push. Just a little support. And during the rest of my run, if my energy seemed to wane, I felt it again. It’s very hard to describe or put into words, but I know I was not alone on that run that day. I know I had angels, or something, looking out for me.
A few weeks ago, when I felt the need to just sit and be still, or “just be” as my friend Dan says, I talked aloud again. Thanked the universe for allowing me to see this beautiful place and hear the birds calling to each other, watch the road runners dart from bush to bush after some unseen-to-me prey, view the jack rabbits hope so quickly from one piece of scrub to another. I was completely alone and I loved it. It was at that time that I felt the need to put my questions out there. Am I supposed to do something with my life involving nature or animals? Should i keep pursuing my love of animals and wanting to make their lives better, to help keep them safe, or to contribute to this world in such a way that is positive, and somehow involves animals? Should it involve natural resource management, as I have been considering lately? Because aren’t the two intertwined? I also let my angels know, expressly, that I knew I would need some very clear or obvious signs, as I’ve been known to be pretty “black and white” in the past. (I’d even talked to my therapist about it in the past.)
I’m aware that just because I asked these questions, it wasn’t like the next day, boom, there would literally be a sign in front of me like the one you find a few miles from where I live that says “Welcome to Utah” in HUGE letters. Sometimes the signs can take a bit of time to emerge.
A few days after that, I walked outside of my apartment to find what looked to be a dead baby bird that didn’t even have any feathers on it, it was so little and young when it died. I have buried it in front of my apartment – he (I called him a “he”) deserved to be buried properly. Not sure if he had fallen out of a nest or what, but I felt like he was outside of my apartment for a reason.
A few weeks ago, I was at work. A coworker looked up from her computer screen and asked pleasantly “how may I help you?” and saw two foreign tourists shove what turned out to be a baby bunny in her face! She didn’t know what it was at first and freaked out, the tourists continued to shove it in her face, and of course, the bunny did then what bunnies do – it jumped! This little creature was so small, he fit in the palm of my hand. To make a long story short, I almost drove 75 miles to Utah that day to transport the bunny – I have since found out it was a baby jackrabbit – to an animal sanctuary, but luckily a gentleman from the AZ Game and Fish Department lives in my town and was able to transport the jackrabbit there. I just called the animal sanctuary to check up on him, and found out he is doing better. He started “wilding up” rather than acting calm at feeding time and for a jackrabbit, that is a really good sign. It will be touch and go over the next few months, I am told, but for now, he is doing well. I hung up the phone and cried tears of joy.
If you want to see just adorable this little bunny was – here’s the link to the facebook page of the Wild Friends section of Best Friends Animal Society. Scroll down to the video of the black-tailed jackrabbit giving himself a bath after being fed breakfast by “dreaded” humans. He’s trying to get all the human cooties off of him! 🙂 He is absolutely ADORABLE!!! (Sorry, it may have really moved down on their page right now since it’s taken so long for me to get this post up and going.)
The following day, again at work, a gentleman came into the store to look at our books for sale and kill some time. He explained that his family was out on a boat and he was staying behind to make sure their puppy was safe and sound at the trailer. We got to talking and I learned that he worked for 30 years for the Oregon Dept of Fish and Wildlife. We talked about how both of us would be the type of person who would break open a car’s window to free an animal from dying of the heat trapped inside, and he told me how because of his work, he sometimes helped wildlife recuperate at his home in Oregon. While I was talking to him, I thought to myself “yep, angels, I’m seeing your work, loud and clear,” and I smiled to myself.
Recently, I met a friend in Zion National Park. We made our way to the top of the Emerald Pools trail, where there were some very smart squirrels who stayed close to the humans, but not too close so that they couldn’t get away if needed. As we left the pools, I saw a squirrel close by, watching me. I reached my hand out toward it, not expecting anything, but just wanting to let it know I meant it no harm. I expected it to run away when it saw my outstretched arm, but instead, it jumped down and walked toward me, and then tapped its feet on the front of both of my shoes. I’ve had a squirrel come close to me before, but always for food (outside of Harvard, the squirrels are so tame, they will take a sandwich out of your hands.) I just felt like he was trying to give me a message. Then, as we parted ways at the end of the night, I saw something in the middle of the road. As I drove closer, I saw it was a deer that was lying down in the road. I’m not sure what happened, if it was hit or not, but I saw a man come out and wave his arms at it, his face showing an expression of what appeared to be disgust. The poor thing got up as fast as it could and ran off away from him. I couldn’t tell if it was hurt, honestly. All I do know is that I almost broke into tears at the thought of this beautiful animal being in pain and now running in that pain. I can’t bear to see any animals, wild or not, in pain.
Recently, I talked to my mom on the phone and learned that she is feeding about 5 or 6 stray (or more likely, feral) cats in her neighborhood. She said, “I don’t know how the word is spreading, but it seems like it is. There used to be just one or two.” A few years ago, I don’t think my mom would have done something like that. She told me that she worries about their crossing the road to get to her house. By the time we got off the phone, she had decided to call the local animal sanctuary when she gets back from vacation and talk to them about trapping them. (At the beginning of the call, she thought that many of the cats look too old to still go into heat or make little baby cats. At the end of the call, she had changed her mind and become more open to the idea of TNR, or trap-spay/neuter-return.)
About a week ago, I was taking little Osito for our walk/carry, as I call it (she doesn’t walk a ton and gets tired in this heat so I end up carrying her a lot.) I ended up talking to a guy in my complex who was just arriving home from the beach with his yellow lab. Turns out he had also had an experience with a jackrabbit, but his was one that had been hit by a car and was still alive when he and his dog found it. Took it to the local vet (who is awesome), who only charged him 50% of his regular rate, and then his girlfriend took the jackrabbit to Best Friends where he still resides today, and will if he can’t be returned to the wild in the end run because of his health.
And finally,this past weekend I was at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. There were a lot of people there but I still felt quite alone sometimes. It’s something I have been fighting (more on it in a later post which is itching to pour out of me.) At the end of my time there, I found a spot where I could be alone and just look at the canyon. After a little bit, another couple showed up, so I walked back to my car and found another spot where I could sit and be undisturbed, and write a few thoughts down in my journal to describe how I was feeling and why I felt so alone even when in a crowd. I was also wondering if I was doing the right thing to start looking for animal-related jobs again.
Then, I saw a raven walking, close to the spot I had just vacated. He could easily have flown, but he decided to walk a few steps. Then he did take flight. I thought to myself how awesome it would be if he decided to come towards me. I went back to writing in my journal and then when I looked up, there he was. Within about 6 feet of me. And here’s the thing. He kept walking closer to me until he was about 3 feet away, just beyond my feet. He would stand there for a bit while I talked to him, and he let the strong winds rustle through his feathers. Occasionally, he would take a small step closer to me. He wasn’t looking for food, but just sat there silently with me. You will have to take my word for it that this happened – my cell phone was in the car and I sensed that sudden movement by me might spook him. And honestly I didn’t want to spoil the moment either.
So what does all this have in common? In a word, animals. Just have to translate it into something I can do or learn how to do – animal rescue or wildlife rescue or animal care (I know some of you may think I’m more qualified than to do something so manual but it’s what makes my heart happy in the long run. Helping creatures that can’t talk for themselves in a way us humans can understand.)I also need to learn or figure out a way to exist financially and get by if I do go back into working full time with animals. It’s really not a field you go into to get rich, at least not in the monetary sense. I don’t want or need a ton of money but just enough to feel stable and be able to take care of my fur family and myself. That’s all I ask for, and sometimes I feel like it’s too much.
I realize some folks may think I saw all these thing as “signs” because now I am looking for them, rather than ust going about my day. Maybe that is the case. Or, maybe it really is the universe or my angels reaching out to me. I choose to believe in the latter.
A friend shared a great link with me: Seven Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose and one of the questions is what makes you forget to eat and poop. I love this guy’s post! I would say that if I were to be involved in an animal emergency or working with animals, that would be one of the times I would forget to do at least one of those (eat). Another question is what would make your 8 year old self cry? And it might be that I have not kept on writing at the same feverish pace that I did when I was that age. I let myself think that to follow a creative path like that was not going to mean a “success” in today’s world. I was not practical. Didn’t require me to wear a suit to work and work in an office and do “important” things for a big company. You get the idea.
I DO know that I have always loved animals, my entire life. I’ve always felt like I’ve had a connection to them that I know not all of us have. And I know I have always liked the feeling of pen to paper and creating stories from my mind. I find myself reading novels and wondering how the author came up with the ideas they have, and how many rewrites it might have taken to get the book to the point it’s at where I am holding it in my hands. I try to remind myself that the book is a finished product, not something easily come by and to not judge myself so much by what I put onto paper.
I also DO know that what I am doing now is not what I want to do for a career. I’ve gone back to being the supervisor, but will have a new (immediate) boss in another week or so, and because of that new addition in the hierarchy of the company, my pay has been decreased. The Team Lead position was not going to pay me enough to live, quite literally. So for right now, it’s a means to an end. It’s what I am telling myself every day.
I’ve decided I will be moving when my lease is up, if not before. (I am hoping to work overtime whenever possible through this season.) I would need to get a subletter if I moved before the end of the lease, and am wondering when to start that process. It’s a small town which helps and hurts me – there isn’t a lot of inventory available, but how many people then want to move here and can afford to do so? So if I stay until next April, I will be just trying to save and live as frugally as humanly possible, or buckle down and get a second job. I have $1200 tied up in security deposits with my apartment that I plan on getting returned back to me. My tower garden (pictures will be coming in a future post) should hopefully allow me to grow my own produce and thereby save some money.
So this is where I am at right now. Definitely fighting feeling overwhelmed, and scared, and feeling lost. But I’m trying my best to get through all of it.
As always, I love to hear from all of you. Thank you so much for the support on my last post. It has meant so much to me.