It is always interesting to collect information and stories about various injured or orphaned wildlife that we take in. The main point in knowing the animal’s background has always been to determine how to proceed with treatment. With that background knowledge, we try mimicking the scenario that the particular species came from, and continue care as close to what its own mother would provide. Most of the time, the people who call us about the wildlife they encounter are truly concerned and just want to help. They are glad to do their part in the rescue and are excited to share their story. Other times, well-intended (or not) humans intervene but discover it isn’t so easy to care for the wild critter they have taken in, and then call us for help. Whatever story we get, it is sometimes evident later that what we were told just doesn’t fit with what we see. In these cases, it takes a bit of trial and error and tapping into good old instinct and common sense to get a better feel for what is really going on.
The call about fawn Scout came early on Sunday morning, the last day of May. The man, Troy, who called had been concerned about a fawn he had observed alone for a couple of days. The fawn had been mewing or, as he put it, “squawking up a storm”, near his home and probably calling to a mother that had been gone too long. During this time, the fawn had also found company with a lone Great Pyrenees dog that belonged to no one in particular (or maybe the dog found company with the fawn?). Anyway, this dog showed up at Troy’s home every few days, ate a few good meals, rested a couple of days, and then took off again. Troy noted that the fawn had been trying to nurse on the big dog, and he felt something must have happened to the mother. With our acknowledgement that we would head his way to rescue the fawn, he informed us that he would attempt to catch the fawn while we got on the road.
Once we arrived, we found a very friendly man who explained more of the story. The landscape and busy road made sense with what he had explained earlier on the phone. The Great Pyrenees was lying at the front sidewalk. He posited the dog could have been the problem, protecting the little fawn as the Great Pyrenees are known for their tendencies to protect livestock but, in the process, keeping the mother from her fawn. Troy also pointed out the busy road and a nearby creek where deer often crossed, worried that someone may have hit the mother. If so, it would have been impossible to find her in the tall grasses or the deep creek area.
The call on little Gracie came on the following Friday morning. A young woman, Paige, brought the fawn, and stayed to visit quite a while. She was from the nearby community of Gracemont (thus the name Gracie), but the fawn had actually come from the Fort Cobb area, where Page’s fiance’ worked on a landscaping crew that was clearing a wooded area. The fellas on the crew almost ran over Gracie with machinery and worried she could be run over by other equipment if they did not rescue her, as there was much more clearing to do in the area. At the end of the day, worried the mother would not return due to being scared off by the noisy equipment, general human activity, and cleared woodlands, Paige’s fiance’ decide to bring Gracie home. After hearing Gracie’s story from Paige, we were informed that she had fed the fawn calf milk replacer and knew to stimulate the bathroom business. Knowing this, we felt Gracie had been in good hands and should acclimate well to her new home with us – and Scout.
Ten days after we got the call about Gracie, a man called about a fawn he had picked up just outside of Apache, OK. He indicated the mother had been hit by a vehicle and the fawn had been found wandering in the road near the mother’s body. Wondering if a second or third fawn might also be in the area, since does tend to birth two and sometimes three fawns, we opted to pick up the fawn and look around near the mother’s body on our way back home. The man had the fawn in a dog kennel, which had housed a rather large dog that was now chained to a lone tree in the front yard. He was vague about details when we asked about the feeding and care the fawn was given since he’d picked it up. And, when we asked about where he found the fawn and where the mother was killed, he waved a hand off to the north saying maybe three miles out. While it was a well-traveled road, we never found a dead doe. And, after getting little Ruthie home, it became apparent she had never been fed, as the man said he had been doing for a couple of days.
When we arrived home with Ruthie, it was immediately obvious she did not know how to take a bottle. After a couple of tries, I quickly gave up on that and decided to potty her next by gently stimulating her genitals with Kleenex and baby wipes. Right away, Ruthie peed what seemed like endless amounts of urine and, even more heartbreaking, came the realization she had not been stimulated to defecate either, and had become somewhat impacted. In fact, she was dangerously close to becoming septic, which would have been deadly. More than seven, large, very hard stools passed and, with each one, Ruthie cried out in pain. In between, she licked all over my arms and mewed gently when it was all over. It took a lot of work with her over the next couple of feedings to get her to take the bottle. She kicked like a mule, and despite trying to be gentle and calming, she fought my assistance in getting the nipple to her mouth. After many tries, she finally gave in, sucking heartily while sitting on her rump, with legs out in front of her. After feeding, she was as exhausted as I was, and promptly found a spot behind a stool next to a bookshelf, and there she rested. In the days to come, Ruthie’s fearful side and desire to escape, made us wonder about the method of previous attempts to force her to take a bottle by the man who found her. Thankfully, Forrest’s work with horses and foals in the past, made him the perfect mama-daddy to help Ruthie learn to trust her new, strange parent(s).
I have thought a lot about the stories of the injured and orphaned wildlife we have taken in over the years. And, I have thought a lot about my own story, and the stories of people I have known in my life. When trying to interpret stories of life and find empathy and understanding of the being who has lived them, it helps to get an accurate and honest accounting of what each of us has experienced, even if it means admitting to ignorance or mistakes made along the way. I try to move forth with the belief that all people do the best they know how, and that pleading ignorance or admitting to a mistake can often be the thing that sets us free, and allows us to make better decisions the next time. How we treat and care for others has everything to do with the way they respond to us, and to others, as they move through life and begin to write another part of their story. I believe all these stories of life matter… and I believe we ALL matter.
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