Personal Stories from the Front Lines

Many Wildlife Rescue volunteers took the time to write heartwarming accounts of their own experiences rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing various creatures over the years. Their written contributions start below and continue on the following pages.

By Ginny Becchine
One day in the early 1980s, as I was driving down Bailey Avenue, now Shoreline Boulevard, I began my Wildlife Rescue career. At the corner of Bailey and Villa I saw a pigeon lying in the road in obvious distress. I could feel my anxiety level rising; I didn't know what to do. If it had been a human being I would have been prepared. As a respiratory therapist, I'm trained to handle emergencies, but they never told me what to do for a pigeon convulsing on the road. I drove the pigeon across the street to the Mountain View Police Station. Now I should have taken the bird to the fire department, they have more medical training, but who was thinking clearly? A police officer was outside the station, and I asked him what to do. I learned that the City of Mountain View was poisoning the pigeons and that there was an organization that took care of sick and injured animals. I drove the bird over to the WRI shelter, then located off El Camino Real, and that's how it began.

Sixteen or so years later, here I am, still working the Friday morning shift. It has been a grand experience, and I would like to share a few of my favorite memories with you.

I remember the day: I knew I had made the grade because Courtenay asked me to baby-sit her swallows and swifts. I started at one end of the long row, and when I worked my way around to the end of the other side, it was time to feed the first group again. (Courtenay, how did you manage to do it for all those years?) The fawn was in the isolation room, and though we all wanted to see it, we stayed away. The juvenile raccoon got loose in the shelter. That was an adventure. Brush bunnies came in, and I was so paranoid that I'd look at them wrong and they would have heart attacks and die.

A domestic duck and I ran the shift. I was the only one on, and I was lonely. So, I let the duck out, and it followed me around. I swear I don't do this type of thing anymore.

A turtle arrived at the shelter with something long hanging from its back end. Everyone tried to figure out what it was. Finally the veterinarian arrived and explained that male turtles sometimes have a problem with a prolapse of their "sexual organ." This was a male turtle with a big problem.

Someone brought me a paper bag and told me to look inside for a surprise. Inside were four baby raccoons all looking up at me. I fell in love. A tiny mouse bit me. I tubed a fledging dove; it aspirated BND and died in my hands. Well I have to be honest; some memories are not so pleasant. But, I'll never forget that incident. What I learned from it: never get so busy that you can't slow down when you should.

Martha caught me drinking coke in the hospital area. Thank goodness she never caught me with a coke on the necropsy table. (Relax Martha, I never have done that.)

I learned no end of an opossum is safe. It comes out both ends at the same time. Or I learned that not only opossums play "'possum." How many times have I lifted up the cover of a basket and found a bird on its back with its legs up in the air?

Lots more wonderful memories, but I think you get the idea. I want to thank all the people who over the years have helped me grow as a wildlife rehabilitator. It has been a wonderful learning experience. I also want to acknowledge all the great friends I have in the organization. It is one of the really positive aspects of volunteering at WRI. I hope to see you all for many years to come.

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