I haven’t posted in a while because there hasn’t been much exciting to tell. Both the classes and the on-the-job training are continuing. We’ve finished with the introductory course (which is mainly procedural stuff) and have moved onto the meat (excuse the wording) of animal first aid. Last night we covered infectious diseases. Yum.
Tuesday was my second ride-along with trainer Roos. Unfortunately she’s having to fit a lot of new volunteers into her schedule, so the ride-alongs are more widely spaced than one would hope, but she’s hoping to up the frequency for all of the trainees in the coming weeks. This time, we were accompanied by Richard, an eager volunteer who recently finished his training. He had a lot of reassuring words for me about how quickly you pick things up, and how it’s ok to make mistakes. (Which of course I know but it’s nice to be reminded.) I admire his intrepidity. At every call, he was out of the ambulance and at the side of the animal in a flash, even when this involved climbing over a rickety wooden fence and pulling a floundering heron out of the water. (Of all the birds we get called out on, herons are potentially the most dangerous, so I’m quite nervous about the first time I’ll have to handle one.)
Once again, my presence in the ambulance seems to have coincided with what everyone said was an uncharacteristically slow day. (This has happened every time I’ve worked so far.) The calls were mainly bird-related: dead gull, dead swan, injured duck, injured heron (both of which had to be euthanized). One dead cat that had to be fished out of a canal.
Possibly the silliest moment of the day was when we were called to a local high school to pick up a hen that had been roaming in the school yard for several days. Concerned for its welfare, the concierge of the school put the bird in a box and called us to come get it. When we got there and opened the box, we were delighted to discover that the chicken decided to thank the concierge by laying an egg. The poor dear (the hen, not the concierge) seemed fairly healthy if a bit undernourished, so we brought her to the bird sanctuary to be fattened up, and then either brought to a petting zoo or one of the local parks that have free-roaming chicken populations.
The cutest moment came at the end of the day when, after returning to base, Roos and I were sent down to the animal holding area to check on some Guinea pigs that had been picked up by another crew. It was a momma pig and 4-5 baby pigs, and the folks over at the rodent sanctuary that were going to rehome them had asked if we could separate out the boys from the girls. So after a quick lesson in how to sex Cavias, we headed on down to sort the boys from the, well, the not boys. Easier said than done.
After much squealing from the pigs, and what felt like untoward prodding of piggy genitals, we came to the conclusion that they were simply too young to sex. (Mom’s sex characteristics were pretty easy to see, so we knew it wasn’t our technique at fault.) Of course, the only thing to do after upsetting baby peegs is to comfort them, which we handily accomplished by petting them and cooing endearments. They seemed to forgive us for our violations, and the one I was holding ended up happily sitting (and shitting) on my chest. I went home with a spot of pig poo on my shirt, but it was totally worth that last moment of cute contentment.