My quick trip to Walmart this morning brought these memories forward. I swerved to miss something in the road, as did the car in front of me, and in my rearview mirror, I saw an animal injured and trying to crawl to safety. I didn't know if it was a dog or cat, but I couldn't leave it. I turned around and got out, instructing William to stay put, which he did not, of course. It was a groundhog, hit by a car and panting heavily. I could not leave the poor thing to lay there in the heat on the asphalt, waiting for the car that didn't swerve.
In my car, I had my Walmart reusable shopping bags, so I gingerly scooped it up in one. A man walking with his three children stopped to look, all of us peering at it. William worried about me, fearful I'd get bitten or attacked. A valid fear, I told him. I tied the handles and we got in the car. What to do? I pictured the thing recovering quickly, getting out of the bag and attacking! But no, the bag moved only with his quick breaths. I suggested we go to animal control to have it put down. My child had other ideas. Could I not at least try to find someone to help it?
I headed over to the Humane Society building, where I was surprised to find people there, today being a spay/neuter clinic - and they had no drugs to put it down. I next visited our old vet, a kindly gentleman towering about 6'5". He took the animal out and said although it seemed in shock and could have internal injuries, nothing was broken and it should recover. It was a baby, only 6 - 8 weeks old. He recommended returning it to the same general area and "letting nature take its course". HE doesn't have to answer to a nine year old.
I called an animal rehabilitator, who currently cannot accept animals because her neighbor complained about her cages. (I take note of this.) She maybe can find me help if it makes it through the next few hours. But I still have not made it to Walmart - and it is a very hot day. Although William likes that our pool is green because it is like swimming in a Star Wars swamp, other mothers are not likely to be so delighted to have their kids in our green soup. So, I grab ahold of the Walmart blue bag and walk in. I only need one thing, right? I stop at the garden cashier station.
"This," I say, "is a groundhog. It was injured. I just have to get one thing and then take it home. I don't want to open the bag." Yet, I don't want to be accused of stealing and want her to see I am bringing something in.
She looks at me like I have three heads and leans back. She says nothing, so I go on in. The groundhog moves a bit and I hurry William along as he begs for swimming goggles. Can't see in green water anyhow.
We get back to the car, and I drive home, abandoning other errands. As I'm nearing home, the bag starts moving and I drive a little faster. Ack! I hope it doesn't recover and run screaming around my car. Oh, the scream would be me.
Finally, I get the groundhog settled in a cage in my basement. A little water by dropper and it sleeps. Or, it's dying. Either way, I've done all I could and it isn't dying in the heat on the road. Check back to see if it makes it. I'm sure this will be an interesting learning experience.
We received a shipment in Styrofoam. William asks (the girls never asked this), "Can I destroy this?"
I say sure, but remember it makes little white balls everywhere, which YOU must clean up. He pauses, "Nah, it isn't worth it."