I love my job. I really do! If I shared every comical, odd, or unbelievable thing that happened to me on the job, I'd have a story for you every day, just about. I enjoy people, and in this job, working with toddlers in their homes, I get to know people from all walks of life. Some perfectly normal people, and some very... colorful... people. :) As a result, I have a lot of fun, and never lack for entertainment.
But while I knew this job would lead to spending a great deal of time with all sorts of people, what I didn't count on was all the wildlife I'd encounter. And I'm not referring to the older brothers and sisters!
After all, there was the evaluation of the child who couldn't say a single word, but I was informed that the family had four goats and they each made a distinctly different sound, and the child could imitate all four goat sounds. Now that's a skill to be proud of... I got to know those goats quite well, as the child's favorite place to have therapy was the barn, but I certainly was never able to imitate those four goat calls!
And then there was the stifling hot humid summer afternoon last year where I arrived to find the family in the pool because their electricity was off and the house was even more hot and humid than the outdoors. The dripping wet toddler was handed out to me -- I put him down as quickly as possible to avoid getting drenched myself, and he headed straight for the sandbox, of all places. You know what he looked like when he came out of there, having gone into it soaked... At this point, the mother shrieks to the older son that the horse is loose... I'm personally not thinking this is any big deal, go get your horse and put it back in the fence, right? But no, this mother then informs me that this is a MEAN horse, and it will attack, that this horse pinned her against the car the other day and she was sure she was a goner. Okay, so why do you OWN an animal like this, I'm wondering? So I am assigned the job of keeping the toddler on the sidewalk outside the house, because the horse won't step on the sidewalk because he doesn't like the way it feels. I'm serious, this is what the mother tells me. I then proceed to try to keep a very hyperactive wet sandy toddler on a sidewalk for the next 45 minutes in the hot sticky heat while the mother and older son are attempting to round up this horse, and they're both positively terrified of it, which is why it took so long. The horse just stood there this entire time beside the barn looking at us and swishing its tail calmly, not looking at all like the ferocious beast it was made out to be, while the son and mother are skirting around trying to entice it into the fence while maintaining their distance. At long last, some food placed inside the fence caused the horse to meander slowly around the barn and into the fence, at which point the mom rushed up and locked the gate triumphantly. I am thinking, "THAT is the dangerous horse they're so afraid of?" when the mother returns to where I am waiting with the toddler and says, "Did you see the dirty look that horse gave me when I shut the gate?"
I'll pause while you take in that entire preposterous event.
My favorite wildlife story is the house where I have to drive 45 minutes into the middle of absolutely nowhere. I went there one morning and the mother says to me, laughing, "Boy, was he ever scared last night. He heard a sound outside, and BOLTED right off the couch and dashed to the other side of the room!" I waited for an explanation that never came, so finally said, "What WAS the sound?" "Oh," the mother shrugs, "just a mountain lion or something."
A MOUNTAIN lion!? I didn't even know they existed in this state! Sure enough, the mother says there are several roaming around in the woods near their house, and a black panther has been spotted on numerous occasions, as well. A panther!! I felt like I was in the middle of a "Little House" story...! I looked it up online when I got home, and sure enough, there have been a few rare sightings in the most rural areas of the state, which is exactly where this child lives. Who knew!?
But today, I had a very tame wildlife experience. I pulled into the driveway of a house, and as I got out of the car, saw the little boy dash out the front door excitedly to meet me, holding something brown and wriggling in his arms. He has a brown dog that he carries around at times, and I assumed that's what he was holding. Imagine my surprise as I begin to walk down the hill toward him and discover it's a FAWN he's holding! He put the deer down and it let us pet it, and then trotted right into the house with us. I asked his mother what happened to the mommy deer, and she said the kids had found it in the woods and the mother deer wouldn't come back to it after the kids had been messing with it, so now they were going to have to raise it. It was only two days old, it had just been born, still covered with blood, when they found it. I was a bit skeptical, but didn't really know for sure, so I didn't say anything. The deer was so sweet and so friendly, the little boy got to feed it with a baby bottle, and then it curled up in their dog's cage and went to sleep.
And then the older siblings came home from school. With friends, to see their new pet. The poor little fawn... I don't know how it tolerated all the attention, because the chaos about drove me nuts and I'm not two days old... I just hope it survives. I looked info on baby deer up this evening to see if what they said was true about the mother not taking care of it once it had been disturbed by humans, and they're wrong. The mother would have come back after the kids had left. But apparently a "kidnapped" fawn should be returned within 12-18 hours so the mother will come care for it, and they've already had this deer for two days, so I've no idea if it still would or not if they put it back. Apparently, raising a deer can have serious consequences for both the deer and for humans, and they need to either try to take it back to the mother or give it to a wildlife rehabilitator. So I guess now I need to tell them that. I bet they keep the deer anyway...
Update: The deer? It died.