There are no pictures in this post, but you’ll thank me for that.
Oh, I had an emotional day yesterday. I was ready to go grocery shopping in preparation for my parents’ visit this weekend, but my car battery was dead. Ugh. Apparently I hadn’t closed the back hatch completely on Wednesday and the little overhead light drained the battery. First of all, I think a car battery should be able to handle that little amount of drain without conking out. Secondly, I wish that had been the worst part of my day.
An hour later, after AAA came and gave me a jump, I drove out to the end of the driveway and stopped to check the mail. And about 30 feet down the hill, right in the middle of the road, was a small raccoon walking in very slow circles. A couple cars came by and the raccoon seemed oblivious to them. I clapped and shouted at it, trying to get it to run off the road, but it didn’t seem to hear me either. I’ve never seen an animal with rabies before, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it had.
And to make matters even worse, I remembered that two nights ago we had seen our mother raccoon with only one of her twins. She usually has both of them with her. I realized that it was very likely that this was one of hers. Ours. (We call them “ours” because they live in our yard and appear to have a nest in the cottonwood tree that grows up through the center of our deck.) I started to get very upset by the cars honking at it impatiently. Knowing that it was a bad idea to get any closer to it, I got in my car and drove down beside it so I could get a better look and try to get it off the road. When I saw his/her face, it was clear to me that this baby was very sick.
If you’re not an animal lover, you’ll think this next part is ridiculous, but I don’t care. I parked my car on the road and turned on my blinkers, determined to warn drivers not to hit the raccoon. Then I called the Sheriff’s dispatcher to find out if they could send someone to shoot it and put it out of its misery. (After all, they’re the ones who are so eager to shoot deer all over the county.) As I sat in my car talking to the dispatcher, holding up six or seven cars coming both directions, someone almost ran over the poor baby. I was almost in tears by this time, and when I asked the dispatcher how long it might be before they came, she said, “I don’t know, but emergencies come first.” I told her that someone would probably run over it soon and she said, “Well, that’s what we’d like to happen.” I was speechless. I mumbled something about thank you anyway, and hung up the phone and started bawling. I know I’m very emotional about this, but I just cannot stand the thought of an animal suffering. Whenever I see a dead deer or raccoon on the side of the road (which is almost daily), I wonder if it died instantly or if it was only injured when the car hit it and lay there suffering more until someone else hit it again. Morbid thoughts, right? But I can’t help it. And that’s why I was angry when the dispatcher said that to me.
So I called my husband at work. (He told me later that he thought I’d had a car accident when he heard my voice.) I feel bad for worrying him, but I didn’t know what else to do. I talked to him for a couple minutes, continuing to wave people around the still-circling raccoon. He finally convinced me that there was nothing I could do, so I should go on and go to the grocery store. I reluctantly drove away, finding it hard to see through my tears. I dreaded coming back home, feeling sure I’d find the little guy dead in front of our driveway.
As I drove back up the hill, I told myself to just zip into the driveway without looking around, just in case. But I couldn’t help looking for him. Thankfully I saw nothing, but noticed that Eric’s car was beside the garage. He was home a couple hours earlier than usual. He told me that he’d come home early to spare me seeing the inevitable. And it’s a good thing he did, because he’d found the raccoon dead. And he gets MAJOR points for what he did next. He buried it in the woods beside the road so I wouldn’t have to see it. That made it much easier for me. I felt a bit better knowing that the little guy was out of his misery, but still sad that he’d had such a short life.
But I’m still angry at the people driving by during his suffering. And at the sheriff’s dispatcher for what she said. We have a large pond near our house that’s home to a couple flocks of geese and ducks. Once in a while the geese will be crossing the road in a cute little line, forcing traffic to stop. While I take immense enjoyment in sitting in my car watching them waddle across in formation, other drivers honk and try to shove them off with their cars. People, what is wrong with you? Seriously. Unless you’re taking a pregnant woman to the hospital, you can wait 60 seconds for some geese to cross the road. Trust me, it won’t kill you. Although sometimes I think it would be interesting to see you walking across the road instead of those geese….
I know I’m unrealistic, but I still dream of a day when animal suffering is considered as serious as human suffering. I’m reminded of this quote by Albert Schweitzer:
“Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace. ”
And this by Mahatma Gandhi:
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
We have a long way to go.