October 4th, aka World Animal Day, saw me riding the ambulance in the company of the ever-cheerful Yvette (who happened to be featured in that day’s Metro newspaper in an article about the work of the Animal Ambulance). It was a lovely summery day, one of the last of the year, and it looked to be a fairly slow one from the get go. The pace in the fall is always less frantic than in the summer, when baby birds seem to fall out of trees like ripe fruit and irresponsible pet owners dump their charges on the street to fend for themselves when they go on vacation. That said, there are always critters in need of some assistance, and today would be no different.
Some days on the ambulance are marked by tragedy. Some days, however, leave you with a smile on your face and a warm, fuzzy feeling in your gut. This would be one of the latter. After a slow start, we got called out to an apartment block where a bird (a Great tit according to the caller) was trapped in a stairwell. Pulling up, we were greeted by the caller, who had been trying for two hours to catch the bird, was already late for work, and was out of both time and ideas. Armed with our trusty net we trooped up the four flights to the attic landing where not a tit but a Starling was perched atop the emergency exit sign. A couple of minutes, a lot of adrenaline, and some handy net work later, and I had the tired, stressed, but luckily perfectly healthy little bird in my hands as we made our way quickly downstairs and out into the fresh air. Seeing the open sky above him, the Startling seemed to revive. I opened my hands and he took to the wing, and in the blink of an eye, he’d disappeared into the trees. It’s rare that we get called out to help a healthy bird and it was a wonderful feeling being able to immediately release this guy where he belonged.
Another call that contributed to the warm fuzzy was from a concrete company, of all places, out in an industrial park. They’d found an abandoned kitten so we went up to retrieve it and bring it to the shelter. We assumed it would be a kitten of at least a few weeks old, but when we got there, the little morsel in the hands of the receptionist couldn’t have been more than four days old. Its little eyes and ears were still closed and it was mewling pathetically for milk. This wasn’t a job for the shelter but for our colleague Alga, who raises orphaned kittens. When they found her under a bush, she’d been cold, but they’d warmed her up and fed her some coffee creamer (not ideal) and she was very active and squirmy. It was hard to pry the little mite out of the protective receptionist’s grip but we convinced her the kitten would be in good hands and she finally let us take her. The poor little thing had to be kept warm, so rather than put her in one of the carriers in the back of the ambulance (which is normal procedure for our charges) I held her against my chest as we drove across town to bring her to Alga. The wee kitteh meowed and squirmed and suckled my fingers, my shirt, and my seatbelt, and then eventually fell asleep in the palm of my hand. Those of you who know me know that I’ve never had a maternal urge in my life, but holding that teeny tiny tabby against my breast almost made my ovaries explode. I understood why the receptionist found it so difficult to hand her over to us, but I knew that she was going to be well cared for with my colleague. Another happy call out.