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.
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.
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be off by herself, withdrawn, and one wonders what was said,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.
became lame, weakened, was unable to get herself out of the
pond, and was put down on 12/24/2004, the first....
© Betsy Robertson Cramer, 2004, all rights reserved.
photos are original work and are copyrighted.