The Gift Wildlife Rehabilitation Provided This Year

I was thankful, in a way, that 2013 had not given me much to work on with wildlife rehabilitation. Most of my work, surprisingly, is taking calls from folks around the state who benefit from assistance and guidance I can provide over the phone. Often, people can handle a wildlife rehabilitation situation themselves by providing just a bit of respite for an animal or bird, and just need a little advice and encouragement in order to proceed on their own. Occasionally, my assistance merely involves giving game warden information for a caller’s area, or providing phone numbers in order to direct the rescuer to another private rehabilitator or wildlife facility nearer them.

But there are also times when what the rescuer describes to me indicates a situation I am simply not prepared to handle.  For example, this September FD discovered an injured female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in the middle of the highway that leads into our hometown. At first, she seemed maybe to just have her “bell rung”, perhaps from a glancing blow off a car’s windshield. Based on this initial assessment, FD and I felt that a little rest and restricted movement was all she needed. After a day here though, it was apparent her injuries were beyond our capabilities to heal her. So, as we often do with injured birds or raptors that I am not capable of working with, we took this young lady to WildCare of Oklahoma. WildCare is just an hour drive away, and they are, hands down, the experts on bird rehabilitation in our area. With a very knowledgeable staff and lots of volunteer workers, they have the means and resources to handle what we do not.

Dominique Sketches Daisy near the feeders in the canyon.
Dominique Sketches Daisy near the feeders in the canyon.
Dominique sketches on a cold, blustery day. Sometimes we bundled up in old quilts and parked the buggy in the sun to keep warm!
Dominique sketches on a cold, blustery day. Sometimes we bundled up in old quilts and parked the buggy in the sun to keep warm!

Back in August, I came home to find a wildlife-related message on our answering machine, but this was a different kind of request regarding wildlife rehabilitation. A young art student from a nearby university was offering to assist me with rehabilitation. She hoped to help with any kind of chores or ranch work in exchange for time observing wildlife, hoping for the opportunity to draw, sketch, and paint whatever animals we might have. At the time, I thought little of her request, other than wishing I could help this girl. But we had no chores we needed help with and I had nothing to offer except Daisy deer and her fawn Spirit to observe. And even with that, we never knew when to expect those two to show up. They might be here for ten minutes or an hour, and then we may not see them again for a day or two!

I returned the call with the bleak news that we had little to offer. It had been a slack year with no visits from the game warden, and no incoming orphans or injured from the public. I told her about Daisy and Spirit, and mentioned that on walks in the woods I usually saw various species of wildlife. But this young lady was not subdued by my dismal report at all. In fact, Dominique seemed intrigued that she might have the opportunity to see wildlife in a natural environment, and foxes and deer were her favorite species to draw. She said her professor wanted her to observe wildlife in motion and learn to express that in her sketches and paintings.  Again, I reminded her we had no idea when to expect to see wildlife on this place, and even though Daisy and Spirit were regular visitors, there was no pinning down just when they would arrive. Undaunted, she asked what might be a good time to get acquainted.

As I often do, Dom spent moments sitting quietly, awaiting the arrival of a subject to present itself. On this day, the squirrels were putting on quite a show!
As I often do, Dom spent moments sitting quietly, awaiting the arrival of a subject to present itself. On this day, the squirrels were putting on quite a show!

Admittedly, I was not so sure about this venture. Being my sometimes “Eeyore” self, I predicted this to be another disappointing meeting with a young person. I grew up differently than most kids today, and generally have some tough expectations about how young people should behave. I often find these expectations cause me grief in the end. The young people I bonded with in my life, were few and far between. Those that I did strike up a relationship with, have been most cherished and loved – but they are unique and exceptional. For the most part, however, I avoid developing relationships with most young people anymore. I just expect it will not go well… because it usually has not.  When I told FD my thoughts, he smiled his usual smile and told me to wait and see. Why was he always so positive? He had his own disappointments with young people. Why was his perspective always welcoming and willing to try again?

My guarded anticipation and worry about being disappointed quickly melted upon meeting “Dom”, as she prefers to be called. She was very personable, respectful, interested, and she listened well. She was assertive, but not overbearing or pushy. When conversing, she made eye contact, she smiled, and she was polite. We talked, getting to know each other, as we strolled through the woods. She remarked on the beauty of the woodland bottom. She noticed many of the things I always marveled at… and maybe more.  She commented about little things, small details that most people would miss. I soon realized I really liked this girl. Perhaps her observations were just common of an artist, but I found her thinking was also not so unlike mine.

Dom could often be found near Daisy and Spirit, watching their movement and sketching frantically, before they disappeared, moving on to their next deer adventure!
Dom could often be found near Daisy and Spirit, watching their movement and sketching frantically, before they disappeared, moving on to their next deer adventure!

And of course, the ultimate test presented itself that very evening when Daisy and Spirit arrived to eat a bite at the feeders. While Dom stood quietly nearby, Daisy stepped up to take a sniff of this unfamiliar person. Dom got approval via a couple of licks from Daisy before she turned her attention to the corn feeder. FD and I were flabbergasted! Evidently, Dom exuded the presence of a friendly human, and Daisy sensed this. What more could a deer mother ask for? When someone befriends and adores your child and grandchild… well, that is a good friend indeed!

As the weeks went on, our walks took us out north to the pecan orchard and beyond, a mile west to the river. To assist with carrying our “tools”, we often drove the Bad Boy Buggy, venturing out with my camera and zoom and her sketch book and painting materials. During these outings, Dom produced landscape images and observed wildlife. Who knew someone could really draw or paint out in the wild like they do in the movies?

Sometimes, Dom left the drawing and painting tools at the house, and she and I just walked around with cameras. She asked me questions, I shared what I knew. I asked her questions about what she was photographing and why. When we got back to the house we would look at our photographs on the computer. I marveled at her perspective – many things she found interesting were very different from mine.

Dom painted these landscapes from the buggy on a rather chilly autumn afternoon.
Dom painted these landscapes from the buggy on a rather chilly autumn afternoon.
Rose Leaves on Back Porch
Dom’s watercolor: Rose Leaves on Back Porch
Cedar Waxwings
Another of Dom’s watercolor paintings: Cedar Waxwings

On the days Dom visited, I found myself wanting to break loose of my busy daily schedule, to spend time relaxing and exploring. Whatever the weather brought, we adjusted. Some days, we just bundled up and sat out on the back porch, watching for activity below. On beautiful, sunny days, we hiked or drove the buggy out west of the property. Other times, we went out for a drive, taking in the landscape of the country, and observing the change of season.

On inclement days, we stayed indoors. Dom sketched or painted while I kept busy with indoor projects, or simply watched her work and asked questions about what it took to draw… technique, media, and the desire to create. We talked about life. We shared thoughts about the world, personal issues, and concerns. No topic was off limits, and even though we might not always agree, we were respectful and thoughtful of each other’s opinion.

Dom’s schedule sometimes allowed for overnight stays which ultimately saved her gas going back and forth from school to home (another 45 minutes down the road from us). During these extended stays, we cooked meals together and baked cookies. We watched TV. We laughed. We visited. We played with the dogs. And always, we kept an eye out for wildlife. Creativity and fun seemed to abound with Dom. Even our shy and socially inept Mr. T (our big-boy Japanese Chin) seemed to flourish with Dom around.

Deer Herd based on observation and sketches of Daisy deer and fawn Spirit
Deer Herd based on Dom’s observation and sketches of Daisy deer and fawn Spirit
Fox Play in Pasture
Dom’s painting of Fox Play in Pasture

Finals this week mark the end of this semester for Dom. We probably will not see her again until January – the start of the last semester of her senior year. I look forward to hiking and buggy rides again, watching the seasons change, and noting the perspective from her artist’s eyes. It will be wonderful to take time with her to relax and explore before the rigors of summer arrive. And life will change for both of us then. Dom will graduate and seek work as an illustrator, while I will be back to my usual activities of mowing, gardening just a little, blogging, and writing my book. Life moves on…  and we each must continue on our life’s journey.

Sketches of Spirit from recent photographs.
Sketches of Spirit from recent photographs.
IMG_3019
This little bull seemed very willing to allow Dom to sketch him while he grazed on woodland grasses.

I cannot help but be thankful for this unexpected visitor who came to assist me in animal rehabilitation, yet wound up assisting me with so much more. My inner Eeyore had me thinking I had nothing to offer this young person, and I thought there was nothing she could offer me either. Little did I know, my time with Dom would help me in ways I never dreamed of.

Dom at school.
Dom at school.

If you would like to learn more about Dominique and her work, visit Dominique Midgett’s Art.

© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


57 thoughts on “The Gift Wildlife Rehabilitation Provided This Year

  1. Fantastic post and Dom’s artwork is amazing! Her sketches and her paintings are beautiful. Thanks for sharing them, and the lovely story of your meetings, with us 🙂

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  2. Lori! I think Dom was sent to you to be your partner when you write your book. Her sketches beautifully compliment your writing. My only question is when do we get to see a Japanese Chin sketch by Dom?

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    1. Thanks Cindy! Dom just sat down a bit ago and quickly sketched Zoe (in about 10 minutes). I’ll post it later… perhaps I’ll send it as an attachment to the chatgroup as well!

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  3. A really lovely and heart warming post. I absolutely loved reading about your interactions with Dom and the wonderful friendship that was developed all through a love of nature. I wish Dom much success as an artist. I like her style a lot. As for you, I believe your book will be well written and I certainly want to be among the first to buy one whenever it is finished and on the shelves..

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    1. Oh Yvonne, thanks so much! It is really amazing the people we meet in unexpected and exceptional ways, isn’t it? I have a feeling before this book is ever finished, there will be many more wonderful experiences in store for me. I seem to be getting a spiritual boost from all around… the Universe provides, eh?

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  4. Oh, thank you for risking and allowing Dom to visit. She notices the little things. Daisy accepts her. So few people get the chance to walk and observe in the wild these days. You both seem to have made impacts on each other. Her art work speaks of a gentle soul. So beautiful.
    (And bird rescues are tricky – it’s something for experts with a special touch – thanks for being the ambulance)
    You’ve done so much this year. Hooray! May your spirit be merry and bright.

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    1. Oh, what a lovely comment! Dom is a beautiful and gentle soul. Isn’t it wonderful when just the right person comes along where there is something new to learn or experience? We simply must be open to what is offered and be amazed at the outcome. How are you faring in your neck of the woods? Are you getting any of this Arctic blast? I hear it blew WAY south!

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  5. I’ll join everyone else in saying that Dom’s art is beautiful. I especially love the foxes at play…such emotion in that one! She really should be your partner to illustrate your book (if your book will have illustrations, that is).

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    1. I think Dom does an excellent job of capturing movement in her paintings. We have talked about illustrations for the book, or maybe children’s books. When Dom and I had our very first conversation and she said she wanted to become an illustrator my first thought was, “It’s a SIGN!!”

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  6. So many gifts! Eeyore thinks in terms of black and white, but there are shades of gray that your instincts can sniff out. They led you to a lovely encounter.
    Dom’s artwork is so gentle and lush. It will be wonderful to follow her work and career.

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    1. Thank you, Sandy. I seem to be surrounded by many people who are helping me deal with my inner Eeyore! Dom is such an amazing young person. FD and I feel very fortunate to have found a new friend!

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  7. Dom is a very talented artist! I looked at the link and the rest of her work is very beautiful also. My husband’s is an artist hiding in a plumber’s body. I need to get him back on that horse, he was a double art major from college.
    I understand your upbringing, I too am of that era 😉 It is hard to find respectful younglings these days, but when you find them is grand!

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    1. How wonderful to know this about your husband! It’s never too late, you know! And, that is how I feel about my attitude about so many dismal and disappointing relationships with young people. It is never too late to try again, and it’s amazing that we never know what gift might evolve from trying again!

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        1. You know my husband, FD built that cabin with a buddy the last two years. FD is very creative, and always longed to build a house. He made that dream come true. FD is many things creative… but now he’s making time when he can to write about the experience of building that cabin. There is so much we can share with others. We all have gifts… and it’s wonderful when we share them. I hope your husband decides to make the time to live his passion. He won’t regret it one bit!

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    1. Thanks Monica! It’s wonderful to hear from you (I’m surprised your fingers aren’t frozen stiff!!). I am excited for Dom too… last night she informed me that she got her first commission for work, and an offer to buy a print of one of her paintings! She seems to have a gift in observing nature and putting it to a sketch pad and easel.

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  8. Sometimes people come into our lives to teach us something. Looks like Dom is your lesson for this year :). She has an amazing ability to translate the natural world through herself and what materialises on paper is simply beautiful and insightful. I love her work and she will do incredibly well when she emerges from her studies. I look forwards to hearing more about the fun (and lessons) that you guys have in 2014 :). Cheers for sharing your eeyore moment with us Lori… sometimes it’s good to break out of the mould and see the world through someone elses eyes. F.D. Knows you very well 🙂

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    1. Oh, Fran! Once again you hit the nail on the head. FD has been so patient with me… always says he knows what is “in here” with his hand over my heart. What dwells beneath the Eeyore in me, is amazing and loving… but we all know it takes time to let go of the “character” that hides that – the exterior personality, so to speak. Dom is special. She teases me about my stress, my worry, and my negativity, in a kind and gentle manner. I might help her a little with my observations of nature but I think her gift to me is even more. Regardless, I wanted to write this post because there are many more posts I can write about our experiences while she is staying with us. It’s quite a wonderful thing for FD and I to see our place (and ourselves) through the eyes of a young artist!

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      1. I headed over to her FB page and left a comment. She really is a wonderful artist. Anyone who can see and translate what she sees like that is going to go far. I look forwards to reading more about your combined artistic adventures and your life lessons together next year 🙂

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        1. I’m glad you left a comment for Dom! I am amazed at how she captures both Daisy and Spirit’s movements and facial expressions! You can bet I’ll be writing about our discoveries and adventures!

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  9. What a great, inspiring story and so was the linked Eeyore, a post I had never read before. In some ways, the Eeyore story made me think of myself and the lyrics of an old song that I use as a motto whenever I get the blues. The song never fails in helping me get pumped back up and, in addition, the lyrics speak to my individuality and the fact that we shouldn’t be a herd of sheep. Most important they say BE YOURSELF! The lyrics take up a lot of space here so I will send them in a private email in hope that you may find them meaningful as well.

    What a wonderful thing to happen for Dom and you and I think y’all (scuse my southern) will make a fabulous team. It seems that once in a while when I am losing hope for mankind in general, a young person will show up and renew my faith in the future. Dom, your art work is FABULOUS and I hope that you can use this opportunity to learn from Sundog and vice versa. Looks like a win-win situation to me!

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    1. You are right about that Louis! Dom and I are learning much about each other, and about the wonderful gifts of nature. FD and I feel fortunate to have her on board here. And, our dogs love all of the attention she spoils them with! Shy Mr.T has really taken a shining to her!

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  10. Oehh how cool to see sort of “behind the scenes” images of your area and how you guys photograph and sketch. I’d like to see more of that if at all possible 🙂 how lovely that everything seemed to be in the right place, at the right time again. Things can get horribly out of sink but when something like this happens you know you’re not gone from your path.

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    1. You are so right about that Anouchka! Everything seems to be falling in place lately. What a wonderful feeling to see so many “signs” letting me know I’m on the right path!

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    1. It certainly is a wonderful feeling to find a kindred spirit! I will be posting more of Dom’s work as she completes projects. It will be interesting for her to see the woodlands come to life in the spring. And of course, there will be lots of babies in the woodlands too. What an exciting time to share with a good friend!

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    1. Thank you Rachel. It is amazing for me to see Daisy and Spirit’s movement and expression in watercolor. I look forward to seeing how her work evolves this spring with the changing of landscape, and the bustle of new life. It will be an exciting time.

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  11. Hi Lori, It’s great when life offers an unexpected gift. I am glad you are making the most of your friendship with Dom. I am sure you are delighted with seeing your familiar world through the perspective of another through her art.

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    1. I am delighted to observe and understand Dom’s perspective of the woodlands. In time, I will proudly display some of her work in our home (Daisy and Spirit for sure!). She truly is a gift to us!

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