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Caring for wild creatures is often sad work. The larger the creature, the more the human caregiver may recognize a fellow spirit. Often, there is the joy of helping, but, sometimes, comes the point in life for choosing death or whatever euphemism, putting to sleep, euthanasia.... It is not too difficult a choice when the creature is in pain or there is an obvious disease for which there is no apparent cure. It is much, much harder when there is a steady decline, appetite diminished, favored fish left uneaten. But still there are sparks of life and a depth to the eyes. In the best of possible rehabilitation worlds, final sleep would come gently, in its own time, in a comforting environment, even, maybe, a death at sea for a seabird released to the wild.

Too often, though, there is not the time and, especially, not the money for the best of care. And then a choice is made for the choice-less. A volunteer transports the bird to the vet for a releasing injection. One hopes for the creature that this is the best way, that there is no other way, that suffering is being prevented. For the volunteer who's known the wild being, observed her qualities, noted his special traits, sometimes over years, and who's been there to help, it is always achingly painful.





"Half-foot" was sweet but she did have a temper. She came from Ventura, bedraggled and frightened. Her left wing was wrapped with fishing line and from a hook, maybe, her foot was torn. Despite her injuries, there was a toughness, a determination, and she recovered to bond with "Double_Red." Her air of gentleness and apparent timidity could be deceptive. Although she usually hung behind her pal, “Half-foot” could stand up for herself, snap warningly at younger pelicans and snatch fish aimed for others, ‘though never from “Red.” Even so, there were days when she would be off by herself, withdrawn, and one wonders what was said, what happened between these two good friends.

She became lame, weakened, was unable to get herself out of the pond, and was put down on 12/24/2004, the first....










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