It’s not just physically draining, although this is some of the most physically arduous work I’ve ever done; other facets of this experience can and do get to me, making me just plumb tired of it all some days. Here are some things I’m tired of:
I’m tired of having to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn.
I’m tired of spending all day cleaning poo.
I’m tired of worrying about zoonotic diseases.
I’m tired of coming home feeling not just dirty, but toxic.
I’m tired of worrying about what has touched my clothing.
I’m tired of working 10 hours with only a half hour break.
I’m tired of worrying if I’m hurting an animal more than I’m helping it.
I’m tired of worrying about making a mistake and killing something.
I’m tired of worrying about why an animal’s not improving.
I’m tired of coming in and wondering if an animal that was there yesterday but is gone today has been released or euthanized.
There’s lots of good stuff too, and I know that this post just seems to focus on the negative. Most of the people who work there are great (both staff and volunteers). I love knowing I’m helping the animals and being able to work with them so closely. Watching seven baby opossums crawl all over each other to get to their dish food, or getting to hold a Common Murre or a Cooper’s Hawk while someone feeds/treats it makes you forget the poo for a while. And releases make it all worthwhile. But some days, the other stuff drags me down a bit, and I long for the simplicity of bookselling, where there are no lives at stake and the most dangerous thing I might face is a customer with halitosis. So does this mean I’m not cut out for rehab (at least on a professional level)? I’m not making any decisions right now, but maybe so. I may be too much of a worrier (Hi, mom! ;)) to do this kind of work on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop exploring ways to work with animals, either on a volunteer or paid basis. It just means there might be other areas that I would enjoy more, or that aren’t as draining on me psychically. (And looking forward to exploring those possiblities.) But I’m really glad I’m having this experience, even if it ends up teaching me that this is not the road for me to take. If I hadn’t taken this detour, I’d never find out.