Dedication for Broken Wings: For all the wildlife I have rescued, rehabbed, fretted over, stayed up all night with, cried into their fur, and lost. Thank you to all of my wonderful wild babies. You have made my life complete.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of my life is working as a permitted and certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. When I am not writing, my days are taken up with caring for orphaned and injured wildlife brought to me by concerned individuals. Now, more than ever, the wildlife rehabbers are working to save animals injured from interactions with society, or dealing with orphaned wildlife during the height of the spring baby season. And yes, it can be dangerous, especially when dealing with rabies vector creatures such as raccoon, fox, and bats. So why do I volunteer to put myself in harms way? Quite simply, I love animals.
My evolution from rescuing dogs and cats to wildlife happened about eleven years ago when a neighbor brought me an orphaned baby gray squirrel. Her name was Widget McFidget McFee and she taught me how to love wildlife. The challenges with raising any wildlife orphan are much greater than raising a domestic baby. Chewed furniture, scratches, bites, and the occasional nut being buried in your shoe, can all result from raising a baby squirrel. But when you hold that fuzzy ball of fur in your arms, watch it grow, and see that little personality flourish, there is no difference, at least to me, between a human child and a wild child.
The day I set Widget free was a mixed blessing of tears and joy. My house seemed empty without her, but she gave me the confidence to raise more baby squirrels and return them to the wild. After her release, I started taking in more babies, and eventually received my wildlife rehabbers permit. Today I work with foxes, flying squirrels, fox squirrels, gray squirrels, raccoons, opossum, skunk, rabbit and the occasional otter. All of which would have never have been possible without Widget. And I was not abandoned completely by my first wild baby. Over the course of the next few years, Widget would bring her babies to me. She would bring every litter she had to my front door for a visit. Unfortunately, after hurricane Katrina, I never saw Widget again. But she is still with me every day. With every orphaned baby I take in, or with every injured adult I help, I think of Widget and the wonderful gift she gave me. Never let it be said that you cannot learn anything from an animal. I was taught the greatest lesson there is from a squirrel. I opened my heart to a world that I never knew existed, and I have become a better human being because of it.
|Alexandrea and baby Rodney|
|Rodney all grown up, snuggled in his bed reading|
Thank you, Alexandrea, for posting today!