Baby ducks stress me out. I know what you're thinking: Finally! Somebody who says what all of us are thinking! You mean, normal people don't see a mess of baby ducks and get knots in their stomach? Okay. I already knew that. One thing a lot of people may not know about me is my extremely dysfunctional sensitivity. This is not an "expressing my feelings every chance I get" type of sensitivity. This is "seeing an animal in pain and crying for hours after that" sensitivity. This post was not brought on by recalling wanting to be a vet when I was younger (see previous post). Rather, it was brought on by the five ducklings I found with their mama on Saturday beside the pond in my complex. Five fuzzy, teetering, squeaking ducklings cute as can be. And I had an anxiety attack. You see last year we had two batches of ducklings. And for each batch, they disappeared one by one. I don't mean this to be depressing, but it's nature. My head knows that but my heart does not. Each day I counted fewer than the last and each time I reached a number, my heart sank until I felt like I was slowly losing my mind. One time I even ran back up the stairs in tears, not being able to properly express my grief to Dean. But he understands. I am afraid to speculate on the nature of their disappearance. I like to think each time a different little kid has caught one and brought it home. Raised it and put it back in the pond when it wasn't so cuddly anymore. But this year more than ever I am acutely aware of the predators lurking around my complex. The predators I encourage with everyday feedings. Yes, the dumpster kitties. The animals I used to consider abandoned and alone in this world. Underdogs that I liked to think were a little better off because of me. I know that no matter how fat, fed and happy a cat can be, it will still hunt when it sees a vulnerable animal. Ugh! Why does nature have to be like this?
This month for my book club we read Wicked. I read it for a second time. Despite its strong political undercurrents obviously making a statement about civil rights and oppression, it also said a lot about how our society treats animals. Ghandi said that a society can be defined this way (props to my mom for displaying his quote on the fridge). Glancing tentatively in my direction, our group leader remarked, "There are some people who go a little overboard with animal rights. Like to the point where they put the welfare of animals before those of people." My response is this. 99% of people believe the welfare of people come first. For rather obvious reasons. Animals deserve to have people in this world who put them first.
So there is my animal anxiety in a nutshell. Where did it come from? When pondering this I can't help thinking of my grandma Frey who nursed a sick squirrel back to health by feeding it peanut butter for a couple of weeks. Then there's my mother (not related to my grandma) who once yelled at my step dad to "STOP THE CAR!!!" while driving up to the cabin to herd a wayard litter of baby skunks across the street and to safety. Then there's my dad who uses Dutch cheese and candy bars to lure mice into safe traps and gently deposits them outside. Only to respect the hell out of them for outwitting him. In other words, I guess there was really no hope for me.