Lately, I have been feeling like a hero. Now, I know that pretty much everyone is a hero these days. You can let someone cross the street in front of you and be considered a hero, but in my case, I may truly be a hero in the animal kingdom.
Let me explain.
A few months ago, I saved a squirrel that fell out of a tree.
A few weeks ago, I was wandering around the backyard. I wasn’t doing anything in particular when I heard a rustling in the leaves to my right. I turned around and saw a snake about one and a half feet long caught in some black netting I used to block our dog from getting tangled in the bushes while out on her lead. I saw that the snake had slithered through quite a few of the holes in the netting and had gotten himself caught very tightly. If I didn’t cut the snake out of the net, he would have died. It took two people about 15 minutes to free the snake. I felt great about the rescue, but really dumb about putting the net there. I promptly removed the net.
A few days ago, my nephew was in town for a visit. He is 10 years old. We went hiking and on his way down a very steep and rocky hill, he tripped. I happened to be right below him, so I turned, jumped and caught him. It was a good feeling.
A few nights ago, I decided to walk around the back patio here at the house. When I went outside, my better half heard a baby bird fly out of the nest it was in. It must have been startled. The bird was flapping all over the place and couldn’t fly. It was too young. About 15 minutes later, I had the bird back in the nest. It was perched up there under the porch just looking at me rather contently.
The biggest rescue was yesterday.
Let me tell you that life is cruel. It’s cruel because sometimes you have to watch something die right in front of you. There are cases where there is simply nothing you can do but let nature take its course. People, being the way they are, try to stop tragedy when they can, but sometimes it’s just out of our hands.
I am going to tell you a short story about something that happened yesterday that I am still thinking about. It was quite moving for us, but I would understand if others thought this was no big deal. Here goes…
It’s been pretty dry around here lately, so I have been giving my best efforts to keep our Rhododendrons moist. They wilt in the heat and sun. While watering the plants yesterday afternoon, I noticed three baby rabbits hopping out of one of our large sea grass bushes. I thought they were so cute and wanted to go over to see them up close, but I knew better. Baby animals are quite unpredictable and can get lost easily. I left them alone and continued watering the Rhododendrons.
Later that day, I went back outside to finish watering some things that I had given up on during the day. The heat was pretty bad and I had to take a break. While watering one of the bushes, I noticed a little baby bunny hop up the hill I was on. I was excited to see one of them again. I continued watering when I noticed the rabbit was hopping up towards the road. Since I didn’t want to see him get hurt, I dropped the hose and started to walk around the rabbit in a big circle to get in front of him. If I could get out to the road, I could shuffle him back into the grass and down the hill.
Well, this rabbit seemed to have been spooked and jumped right onto the road before I could get to him. Well, he jumped onto what I thought was the road.
As I approached the top of the hill, I was horrified to see that the rabbit didn’t jump onto the road, he had jumped right on to the grating of a very deep storm drain. My heart instantly sank. I ran over to look down the drain and there was the rabbit, swimming in circles about twelve feet down. I heard him gasping for air, but only inhaling water. It was absolutely horrible.
This is one of the moments in life you never forget. It’s a “do or die” moment. I froze for a few second while many thoughts flashed through my mind. Should I surrender and watch this poor animal drown in a storm drain? Should I try to get down there and save him? The drain was deep and I wasn’t sure if I would make it in time.
For some reason, I got up and ran. I ran down the hill towards the house and ran into the kitchen. Luckily, my better half was standing there. All out of breath, I panted, “We have an emergency…a baby rabbit fell down in a storm drain. It’s going to drown.” After that, I turned around and took off. I remember grabbing the ladder in the garage and yelling, “Find a bucket. Let’s go.”
The next thing I knew, I was up on the road reaching for the storm drain grate. It wasn’t budging. There was sand and dirt holding the edges in place. I moved to one side of it to see if I would have better luck over there. A slight movement. I held the one side and pulled with all my might. The grate weighed about 75lbs, but popped up. I held tight as it almost fell down the twelve foot deep storm drain. I got a handle on it and threw it on the grass.
By that time, my lady was standing next to me ready for action. I grabbed the ladder, unfolded it on the road and slid it down the hole. This is a 13 foot ladder when unfolded and only about one foot was sticking out onto the road. The ladder rested on what was half sand, half water. I immediately picked up the bucket and climbed down the hole.
Now, I am going to admit that I don’t like being at the bottom of a deep storm drain. There were three smaller pipe openings down there and one large one. I have no idea what is living down at the bottom of this pit, so I acted quickly.
On my way down, I saw the rabbit give one last effort at swimming and then give up. He was just floating on his side. I would say about a minute had passed since I had initially noticed that he had fallen down the storm drain. I reached the bottom of the ladder, bent over and scooped up the rabbit. It broke my heart to see him floating there in the bucket. I may have been too late.
I quickly climbed up the ladder out of the hole. When I got to the top, I handed the bucket to my lady who immediately poured the water and the rabbit onto the lawn. The rabbit was motionless. I yelled, “Hold him upside down so the water comes out of his lungs.” I think I heard that technique somewhere along the path of my years of lifeguard training. She held the rabbit upside down and we watched the water drain out.
She kept slowly bobbing the rabbit up and down to release and last trace of water. I held him, closed his mouth and blew into his nose. I know it sounds strange, but I remember that you can resuscitate a dog like this. All these weird memories of CPR training came back to me. We continued to hang the rabbit upside down and then gently blow into his nose to get some air into his lungs.
It didn’t look like we were getting anywhere. I would be crushed if this poor baby bunny died right in front of me. A few more seconds passed.
Just when we thought all hope was lost, the rabbit opened his mouth. It stretched out in what wasn’t a good sign and seemed to be trying to yawn. My lady, who has veterinary experience, said that this is what an animal does right before it passes away. We didn’t take no for an answer and continued doing what we were doing. If anyone had driven by in a car, they would have thought we were crazy.
A few more moments and the rabbit opened his eyes. He looked extremely groggy and his eyes were glazed over.
When we saw the rabbit starting to move, my lady instantly got up and ran it into the house. She was worried that he was going to get hypothermia after this ordeal. Apparently, this is what happens to animals after a traumatic experience. Inside, she got a dish towel to put the bunny into. She came back outside with him to let him dry in the sun.
When she arrived back at the scene, she told me that she felt his heart beating a mile a minute on the way towards the house. We felt confident that the rabbit would make a recovery.
After a while, we decided that it was time to put the rabbit back on the grass to see what happens. We did this and he started hopping around slowly. He was shaking, but I think that stopped after a while. He looked good and began acting somewhat normally.
After we left the rabbit to get reacquainted with his surroundings, I began to think about what had just happened. I was a bit moved. This experience was a microcosm of what happens every day. When confronted with a situation that needs dealing with, do we deal with it? There are so many times we hear stories of someone laying on a sidewalk who is in need of help. We also hear the stories of all the people who just walk by.
No more. Not for me. I am going back to the way things should be and I am going to take action every time. This was too good of a feeling.