Life As an Animal Volunteer

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I am covered in cat scratches. My shoes have raw chicken on them. I have a heat headache and my shoulders are sore and my back hurts…

All of this didn’t happen in one day, but it is my current state (my shoes remain outside the house now). I’ve upped my volunteering schedule. Last week I started at a wildlife sanctuary. It is very labor-intensive, but somehow causes me less pain than sitting in front of a computer for eight hours.

First day at the wildlife sanctuary – which is mainly a hospital/rehab with some permanent residents – I did a lot of food prep. Which meant slicing up fruit for baby birds. Then I spent about an hour outside smashing raw chicken necks with a giant meat tenderizer to create dinner for the birds of prey – bald eagles, owls and the like (this is so the bones are crushed and easier to eat, and this way the birds get natural calcium instead of a powder being added to their diet – and this is also how my shoes got dirty). I did get to hold a baby squirrel that day. So, you know, worth it.

My second day, however, involved hand feeding some fledglings. My friends, you haven’t lived until you’ve had seven mocking birds (or blue jays or woodpeckers) all squawking at you with their mouths open and ready for treats. I also got to put some food in the cages of baby opossums. One was particularly hissy, but the others were appreciative. And adorable. Also, baby raccoons are adorable (FYI).

I also volunteer at a no-kill shelter. So I walk dogs (and try to train them) and play with cats and kittens. An extra rowdy kitten decided my nose looked delicious and bit it as well as my earlobe. Also scratched my arms while kneading with extra sharp claws. This, however, was also adorable.

Plus, I’m still working on building a web page for a local bully breed dog rescue. So this has been a big learning curve of software and code. But I’m also educating myself on these types of dogs so that the rescue can educate the public. How I do love research.

It’s not all glamorous, however. Dog walking inevitably involves picking up poop. Bird feeding means cage cleaning. The wildlife sanctuary work is mainly food prep, cleaning, doing dishes, and folding laundry. It means being covered in sweat and scratches and fur and feathers. It means my hair is constantly askew and my outfits are designed for functionality, not fashion. It means I’m tired and my feet always hurt. It means my heart breaks when I have to leave a favorite dog at the shelter, but I know I should wish to not see them ever again – because that means they have found their forever home. It means a lot of time and energy is spent.

And I think I might have never been happier…

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2 thoughts on “Life As an Animal Volunteer

  1. You’re making me want to do stuff…cut it out! One day at the shelter and they would all be coming home with me. Don’t think that would go over real well. 🙂

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