Our first podcast of the year is live and gives an honest look at the profession of wildlife rehabilitation. Host, Emily Davenport reads a letter from an unknown Wildlife Rehabilitator. The letter sums up the pure joys and utter devastation of being a Wildlife Rehabilitator.
Listen here: https://anchor.fm/mywildlif…/…/Episode-8-Rehab-Letter-e330ri
or read below:
A Rehabbers’ Best Advice to Her Younger Self
My Dearest New Rehabber,
You are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, one that will challenge your soul, tax your body and, if I am being honest, break your heart. You will lose sleep, gain weight, lose weight, and pay a high toll for your passion, both physically and mentally. You will lose yourself completely in moments of sorrow, you will cry and there are times that you will be devastated to the point you can’t imagine seeing the light of the next morning.
You will be angry at the carelessness and ignorance of the world. You will see people at their absolute worst. You will wonder, more often than you can imagine, if you are part of the same species as those around you. Few will understand your work, your passion or your dedication to the animals in your care. Those closest to you will, too often, resent the time, resources and energy that rehabilitation costs you. You will feel alone, you will be alone. You will grow to expect quiet and solitude in your world.
You will be grounded to your home in a way you can’t now imagine. There will always be a project needing done, a baby needing fed, a call that no one else will answer. Your days will be longer than you could ever imagine, and your exhaustion will consume you from the inside, and be visible on the outside.
Your skin will be destroyed with a thousand scars from playful or angry claws, from teeth. People will stare and wonder how anyone could carry so many scars and seem unaffected. Your skin will crack and bleed from constant handwashing to keep babies safe and well. Your clothes will have pulls and tears, chew marks and stains.
Your house will be destroyed and dismantled in a thousand different ways. There will be dirt, fur, food and filth in every corner, and soon you will simply cease to see it. Clean will be a relative term that will come to mean, your babies have a wonderful environment to grow and thrive.
You. Will. Be. Dirty. All the time. You will be peed on, you will learn to look at poop as presents left on your arms and lap from a happy and healthy baby. You won’t shower because it sows distrust with your charges, and really, what is the point when in three short hours you will once again smell of formula and all things wild again.
I know as you read this you are shaking your head, because this isn’t what you imagined. Rehab is supposed to be fun. It is supposed to be filled with happiness and laughter, and THIS isn’t what you thought it is, and it sounds horrible and frightening and terrible. And you are absolutely right, it is all those things.
You are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, one that will make your spirit soar, will make your body stronger, and, if I am being honest, make you a better person.
You will lose sleep, because amazing and wonderful things abound to keep you awake. You will gain weight, because even a minute away from the babies in your care seems unbearable at times, and there is simply no time for you and a gym. You will lose weight, because every minute of every day will envelop you and you will simply forget to eat more days than not. Your body will never be the same, and neither will your mind, and that is a wonderful thing. You will lose yourself completely in moments of happiness, you will laugh, and there will be times that you will wonder how you ever lived without the happiness that rehab brings into your life. No matter how little sleep you get, you can’t wait to wake up to expectant faces who have placed their faith in you and you alone.
You will be amazed at the caring and love of the world. You will see people at their absolute best. You will wonder, more often than you can imagine, how you never noticed all those that feel as you do, who care as you care. Those that matter will understand your work, your passion and dedication to the animals in your care. Those who love you, will love to see the happiness brought to you by the animals in your care. Those closest to you, will share in your world as best they can, they will hold you during bad days and give you space when you need it. You will never be alone, you need only reach out and stroke their soft fur, embrace their warm body to know, you will never be alone. You will grow to enjoy the quiet and solitude in your world, and slowly the sounds and sights of nature will fill every gap.
Your home will be your sanctuary as much as it is theirs. You will learn to work with your hands in ways that you couldn’t have imagined. You will answer calls for help that no one else could, and you will take pride in knowing that you are giving back to a world that you have taken so much from. Your days will be full of love and laughter and happiness. You will lay your head down at night, and sleep the good sleep of those that have fought the good fight.
Your skin will be covered with the marks of a warrior, who fearlessly rode into battle, odds be damned. People will stare in wonder, imagining the life you must lead to carry such scars with pride. Your tattered clothes will carry your story forward, it will carry their story forward, every pull and every tear a memory.
Your house will be a testament to a life well lived, embraced and surrounded by nature. You will prop trees and limbs in every corner. Where once there were trinkets, there will be their living embodiment. There will be evidence of your hard work in every corner, and you will realize it is only an indication of your full life, not a commentary on your lack of care. You will learn that clean, is a relative term in a world of nature.
You will learn that dirty can be good. Pee washes off and poop means a job well done. You will get by with less, and find out it feels like more. You will learn that formula is its own sweet fragrance that brings a smile to your face, because it means another baby season is upon you.
I know as you read this, you are shaking your head, because this isn’t what you thought. It is so much more. Wildlife rehabilitation is magical. You will experience things that only a handful of people can even imagine. You will be granted access to a world that is as close to God and heaven as you could ask.
You will laugh and you will cry. You will be exhausted and exhilarated. You will never be the same, you will be stronger and more determined than your wildest dreams.
You will be a Wildlife Rehabber and you will love every minute of it.