Today was our day at the Animal Kingdom and quite honestly it has always been my FAVORITE park. It’s no secret that I love animals. I adopt, foster, rescue or buy everything my parents (and now my husband) let me.
As a child I found a bird on the side of the road with a broken wing. I knocked on doors until I found someone home who could give me a shoebox and some old cloth. Then I careful lifted the bird inside and took it home to my mom and pleaded with her to take me somewhere to save it. We found a wildlife sanctuary who would take it and drove there. They showed me how they would set the wing, and after a sizable donation from my parents they agreed to keep it.
Next I adopted a small baby chick. Our class hatched them for a lesson on … something … but mine hadn’t hatched on time. Everyone else had cute little fluffy yellow chicks popping about in their hands and my egg just laid in the incubator. The day we were sending everything back to the farmer mine hatched. But it wasn’t yellow, it was black. And it didn’t pop about, it was crippled. Both feet were clenched tightly closed and both legs were bent. When the farmer came to collect everything he made it clear that he wasn’t going to raise the black chicken and asked if I wanted it. Of course I did!!! So I came home from school with a very unhealthy small bird. We tried to feed it and tried to keep it warm. I even exercised its small legs. But it died in a few days. We had a whole funeral service and buried it in the back yard.
Then came the tadpoles. About 3,756,343 of them. One summer, when we lived in New York, it was time to open our pool. The day before the pool service was going to arrive we noticed tiny little critters swimming about in the water. And not just one! The pool cover was swimming with tadpoles. Oh no! What was going to become of them? My parents told me the pool service would just dump the water off the cover into the pool, add plenty of chemicals and the tadpoles would filter out. WHAT?!? They were going to kill them?!? Not on my watch. I recruited family and friends to skim them all off and filled plastic baby pools with them. They were saved!!! But then I had to raise them. I had to keep the water at the correct temperature by adding ice and cover them with cheese cloth to keep our predators. When they started growing large enough I decided we better release them into a local waterway. I convinced my family to help me do this after dinner one night. We filled buckets and buckets and buckets with tadpoles and water. Then we drove them over to a drainage pond nearby, and started dumping. Before we finished carrying ALL the buckets, the police showed up to see what in the world we were dumping in the water under the cover of dark. Oh yeah, that might have looked suspicious. We showed the officer the tadpoles and told him the story. He looked rather amused but told us not to make dumping buckets of things into water at night a habit. My mother assured him that this was not a regular thing with us.
Then it was Raptor, the biggest and meanest cat in the feral cat pen. My hubby said we should get an outdoor cat to chase off the pigeons who had taken over our pool. So I headed to the humane society and asked for their largest and worst cat. It took about 20 minutes for them to catch this “monster” using a snare pole and drop him into a crate. They had me sign a paper saying his name was “Davis” and told me not to touch him. I took him to my car and drove him home – putting him in the greenhouse with food, water and a litter box. I named him Raptor, because he was huge and mean. But then… over the next few days I began to notice that perhaps he wasn’t a monster. He let me pet him. He meowed loudly when I would leave. And soon he let me hold him. Then he met our girls. Soon I realized he was an extremely misunderstood cat, and I began to love him so much. Unfortunately he got very sick shortly after we brought him home. I took him to the vet and then we let him live inside our home. He was diagnosed with cancer and soon he died. But Raptor was finally loved, and he knew it.
So animals have ALWAYS been my calling. Genesis 1:28 says: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” When God created us we were supposed to watch out for the animals; protect them. We were representing God to them. Standing in the gap. And for this reason if an animal comes to me for help I don’t say no.
A few months ago a dog followed my middle daughter and our nanny home from the park. It was scared, hungry, emaciated and very smelly. But I could tell it needed help and had come to our home for a reason. So I took her inside and we named her Sweetie. She had been lost for ages. There was almost nothing to her. We took her to the vet and there was no micro chip. I wasn’t surprised. I asked them to keep her for me overnight and I would get her in the morning. The next day we picked up sweetie and got her groomed. Then I bought her a collar and leash. I spammed all my local friends to find her a home and by the end of the day she was a loved member of a new family.
Tonight I sat in the room pictured below. It’s the lobby of the animal kingdom lodge in Disney World. We ate dinner in their Afro-Indian restaurant called Sanaa, and watched beautiful savanna wildlife walk around outside the windows. And I felt so grateful that I am not the only one in the world who takes the time to help the animals.
We all have so many gifts and talents to share. You might not save the tadpoles. But you might give a compliment to a nervous person in a dressing room. Or maybe you can tell a joke to a sad friend. Maybe volunteer to read at a hospital or teach math to kindergartners. But whatever it is… find your thing. What you have a passion for. What you can’t help doing. And then seek out opportunities to get involved. The world is huge and time is limited. So if it sets your soul on fire don’t wait another day. Explore your passions and make this world a better place… because it had you in it.