Over the weekend Older Daughter’s Wild Angels Rehab took in two new babies. When I mentioned this on Monday (here on this blog), both were still alive. But later that day, Older Daughter lost one of her babies. The other baby is still hanging in the balance. This is really tough work.
The first call was for a baby wild turkey. Older Daughter was at work and the baby turkey was found only a few miles from where I live. So Older Daughter asked if I would take the baby until she could pick it up on her way home from work that evening.
Older Daughter gave the family directions to my house and a man and his son arrived with the baby in a box. I asked how they heard about Wild Angels and they said a family member had seen the Facebook page. I thanked them for doing the right thing.
Before Older Daughter was due to arrive that evening to pick up the turkey baby, I received a text from her. I have taken another baby today since I talked to you earlier. The Animal Control Officer called me this afternoon. A fawn was charging into a chain link fence over and over. I have her now. She’s bleeding from some injury which I think is just a scrape from the fence. But she is not in good shape. Severe diarrhea, weak, and dehydrated.
I thought about the kind of night my daughter had ahead of her. I also worried that the fawn might not come back from whatever was causing her symptoms. But this is what my daughter does. It’s her passion. It’s always tough, but she perseveres. She told me she would be late coming by to pick up the turkey because she would have to drive (farther away from home) to the nearest shopping area for baby turkey supplies before heading back in this direction. She already had what she needed for the fawn.
Older Daughter did everything she could for the little turkey. We don’t know what was wrong. Older Daughter was doing everything you do with a baby turkey – tapping around with her finger showing the baby how to eat and drink. It did begin to eat. But as often happens with very young babies of all types, they just suddenly make a turn for the worse. She died very suddenly on Monday.
This broke my daughter's heart. She called me crying. I tried to say comforting things. I knew that on top of how difficult it is to lose ANY baby, Older Daughter had not been sleeping more than a handful of hours per night since taking in the turkey and the deer. Everything seems even worse when you’re physically exhausted.
We got off the phone, and I received a text from her. This really hurts. She died in my hands. This is the first loss this year, so I know I've been lucky. But I don’t know how to not get attached to every single one. I feel like this is my calling, but maybe I’m not strong enough. Right now I’m wondering if what I do is even worth it. And each loss is so painful.
I texted back. I don’t believe there is any way to not get attached - unless you don’t care, and then you wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing anyway. In my own work, if I look at the big picture I’m not even making a difference. It’s so hard and so painful way too often. But when I look at individual lives, then it DOES matter. It matters for the ones who make it. But it matters for the ones who don’t make it too. They don’t die out there somewhere alone. And they get to know some comfort and love. You’ve picked a very hard thing. Much harder than what I do because the losses come more often. Only you can decide if this is something you can do.
After a very long time, I received one more text from my precious daughter. I’m supposed to be doing this work.
Wildlife rehabbers don’t name the wildlife they take in. After all, the entire goal is to return the animal to the wild. Oh there’s the occasional “nickname” that happens despite the best efforts not to see a wild animal that way. Like one of eight baby raccoons last year who ended up being nicknamed “Fuzz” because she was SO much fuzzier than the other seven. However, usually there are no names. But when this little baby turkey died in my daughter’s hands, she wanted to honor her with a name. She buried her in her backyard. And she named her Rita.
Here we care about all creatures – great and small. So Rita – Farewell.
The fawn’s diarrhea is not yet under control. She was seen by a vet and is on some medications prescribed after a stool sample was tested. Older Daughter is giving fluids and medications and trying to force-feed at this point. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
As always, I’ll keep you posted. See you tomorrow.