Taking the Time

Kate and friendThis is a story about “Taking the Time”. Ironically, I have wanted to share this for over two years, but never found the time to write it down. So I thought, what better time to do it then during our #BackyardHeroes campaign.

This true story begins like many other mothers' weekday mornings do; running around trying to get ready for work while also trying to “herd the cats”; otherwise known as my two young children. Most parents can probably relate and know where my head was on this particular morning- I honestly did not think I had any extra time or energy to give.

As my morning progressed and we were finally in the car driving, I notice roadkill; it was an opossum. I gave it a slow look and could see it was definitely dead, but it didn’t look too “smooshed”. Sorry for my lack of words but you get the picture. As I drove by it I began to wonder if it was baby season or not. Just an FYI, opossums carry babies on them or in their pouch, they are our only marsupial in the US, so even if the mom is dead, the babies may not be. I had been driving quickly and didn’t see any babies near her. As I kept driving, these questions of whether or not there were babies in her pouch started to bother me and a conflict took place in my head. The conflict was to stop and look or get to work on time. The only reason this was an issue was because I was still fairly new at the job and worried about being late. I have these little conflicts in my head all the time and I know by now that if I didn’t stop to look I’d worry about it all day wondering; what if?

On my way back I drove by even slower to take another peek; now I had a better view of the belly and saw a tiny pink baby! I pulled over, checked for cars and got out to take a look - thankfully it was a quiet residential road. As I looked closer I saw the pouch moving. Holy cow, I thought to myself, she has babies and they are still alive. Picking her up by the tail I got her off the road and away from traffic, she was stiff but the babies were still moving. I called the local wildlife rehabber and explained the situation. The wildlife rehabbers are awesome people so I knew they could save the babies. The problem was that they were located 45 minutes away and now I knew I was going to be late for work!

After putting the momma opossum in the car I headed to work, which coincidentally was in the same direction as the rehab facility. When I pulled up to see my boss outside I explained to him that there was a dead opossum in my car with a pouch full of live babies. I actually cringed at those words coming out of my mouth, “I have a dead opossum in my car with a pouch full of live babies”. Who says that!?  I stood there wondering what he would think because for most of the population this is just something people don’t get involved with or even give a second thought. Luckily, he said to go and do what I needed to do. Phew! I thought to myself. After that the morning got even easier, someone from the Wildlife Rehab said he could meet me halfway! We met at a highway gas station and I pulled out $20 to give to the wildlife rehabber and sent them on their way.  Just another heads up, you should leave some money with rehabbers when dropping off animals, they rely on donations to work their magic, saving all those animals. 

I’ll tell you what, I felt like the best human being on the entire planet that day. Here were 5 tiny lives trapped inside their mommy’s pouch with cars zooming by and now they are safe in the wild somewhere living out their lives. The last gift their mom gave them was a safe place to live until someone noticed, someone cared, and someone took the time.  

I think the funniest part of the story came a couple weeks later when my boss stopped me to talk at work. He told me he was on the phone the other day with a man we do business with and the guy said to him, “I can’t talk right now, you wouldn’t believe me but I got a opossum in my car right now.” My boss just replied “you aren’t the only one” and laughed.

Key parts:

1.) Appreciate animals, learn more about them and then share that information! Not everyone loves opossums, but they are super cool animals!! I have to thank my years working at Wildlands Conservancy for my love of opossums. We had a non-releasable opossum that we used for educational programs. 

2.) Know where you can take animals to and save their number in your phone. In this story Red Creek Wildlife Center in Pennsylvania was the wildlife rehabbing heroes.

3.) Be safe, if you are going to do this, roads must be safe and you must not handle rabies vector species without a super safe plan. Learn about this!!  If you do not feel comfortable rescuing the animal yourself call a wildlife rehabber!  If you find an orphaned animal, call them too because not all animals are truly orphaned.  Some moms, like bunnies return to nurse after long periods away while others may just be learning to fly and mom is nearby.

4.) Donate to these heroes that do what we can’t do. Feeding babies every 2 hours; every day, every year, is pretty much a superhero in my book. Not to mention handling animals that have claws and teeth who are scared and in pain.

5.) Don’t be afraid of what people will think, you aren’t the only one, even if it feels like it.

6.) Take the time!!  In the time of fast everything and squeeze everything in you can, take the time!!  Situations like these are better for your soul then everything else you are worried about that day.

And finally be #BackyardHeroes

By: Kate H.

Edited by Maile and Fallyn