June 27, 2010
Today was my last official day of the season. The three month contract is up. Volunteer day came so fast every week, I have never been so aware of the day Sunday. It was a challenge keeping this up, with work and some health issues, but my love of the animals is what kept me going, and kept my commitment strong.
When I started at the rehabilitation centre I asked myself if I could do this. I know how overwhelmed and more than sad – inconsolable really – I can get over the mistreatment, sickness or death of an animal. Yet I have seen death, illness (which does make me sad) and somehow I have been able to accept what is happening around me. A couple of years ago I prayed to be less compassionate because it hurt too much. Somehow that has happened, to a degree – the ability to turn off the thoughts, to compartmentalize them. Some relief from depression may also have helped alleviate the agonizing empathy for other beings. I told myself it takes a special person to care so much; well, that doesn’t help one bit. Nor does feeling like a pariah when my views differ drastically from other people. Now, here I’ve gone and gotten to know the animals I love so much better, as individuals with character and the need of play and each other. If something happens to a squirrel now it is not just a vague idea of an innocent animal, but of one with so much character.
Another reason I questioned my ability to work with animals is that I quit the humane society where I walked dogs and groomed cats for less than a year. I had anxiety attacks going there and some of the things I heard or witnessed made it impossible for me to carry on. I didn’t find anyone there that I could relate to with this, the people I met were so practical. With cats and dogs you hope they one day find a home, with wildlife you know if they make it through they are guaranteed a home back where they belong.
So today, I drove past the church parking lots full of cars, past the pastures of cattle, and rolling hills of yellow canola fields intermingled with bright green potato plants and dark lush pines, to Cynthia’s tree lined lane. The dogs weren’t outside to greet me today, they were inside out of the heat. Peter and I both picked greens for the bunnies and he and Ryan reminded me how to weigh bunnies – put the bunny IN the bowl on the scale – aha, I wondered why the scale was in the bowl (at these times I have to stop and reflect on exactly why it is I consider myself an intelligent person). The oppossum litter of five is going strong and their sharp little teeth are bared in fright, but not used when I lift their feather-weight bodies. People (even here) say they are ugly but I think they are the pretty darn cute. I will be away from volunteering for most of July. I am sad to be done, not relieved. But I have the pleasure of knowing I can call and come back to help.