One of the most distressing parts of being a wildlife watcher is realizing how very cruel nature can be. And quite a lot of the wildlife we enjoy watching, sometimes meet a very sad demise.
We’ve all seen birds fly into windows and rabbits and squirrels dart beneath the wheels of passing cars and were saddened because there was nothing we could do to help.
When a family noticed what they thought was a dead woodchuck in their back yard, they made plans to remove it. They were all animal lovers, so they decided to give it a nice burial.
But, when they touched it with the shovel, it moved ever so slightly. It wasn’t dead after all! Now what?
Can’t you just hear that famous line from the horror movie…”It’s aliiiiive!”
Like a dog chasing a car, now that we have it, what do we do with it? Lucky for them, when they contacted the authorities to tell them of their dilemma, they were pointed towards local wildlife rehabilitator Molly Ryan.
This was the first lucky break the little woodchuck had had in days. She had gotten so weak she couldn’t move, and had laid there on the ground for days before being spotted.
But, now things were looking up. Molly would know exactly what to do!
Molly wasted no time getting to work bringing the poor woodchuck, whom she named Coco, back to health after her near-death experience. “The first thing I had to do was get her stabilized on fluids to rehydrate her and get her body temp back to normal,” she told The Dodo in an interview.
While Coco had been lying motionless in the back yard, she had been susceptible to attacks by other animals. Molly quickly noted a series of cuts and bruises she assumed were caused by wild birds.
She was amazed by the little animal’s patience and acceptance of Molly’s help.
“While Coco was in the 90-degree heat of that yard, birds had started to come down and peck at her head, so once she was stabilized, I started looking at the wound on her head,” Molly explained. “Every step of the painful cleaning and poking with needles, she was sweet as could be.”
In addition to the scrapes and bruises and wounds, Molly noted the woodchuck was extremely malnourished. From that point forward, it became a long uphill climb to get Coco to gain any weight or strength at all.
She had gotten so seriously malnourished and weak that it was taking everything she had just to stay alive. Still, Molly persevered.
She checked on Coco several times during the day and even got up with her at night. She fed her lots of small, tasty meals and kept her well hydrated.
With all the close contact between the two, Molly discovered something unique about Coco. She was a cuddler!
While Coco had been having trouble keeping her body temp regulated, Molly decided to let her sleep in bed with her. That way she would know that Coco wasn’t possibly getting chilled while she slept.
Then she realized that Coco wasn’t just “allowing” it, she was enjoying it! From that time on, Coco went to bed when Molly did and cuddled up against her all night long.
“She would snuggle up right by me and make sure part of her body was touching me all night,” Molly recalled when discussing Coco’s rehabilitation.
Although Coco was adorable and was bonding to Molly so sweetly, Molly knew that she was at heart a wild animal. That meant that when she was healthy enough, she would have to be returned to the wild.
She was preparing Coco for that day when she discovered something else unique about Miss Coco!
Molly had noticed something seemed off with Coco’s eyes, and she became concerned about releasing her back into the wild. “I noticed she held her eyes at half-mast or sometimes not open at all,” she told reporters.
“She would start walking and then start walking a bigger and bigger circle, until she was in a straight line again. I had a hunch so took her to the vet to verify: Yes, Coco was blind.”
Being returned to the wild would have been a death sentence for Coco, and Molly couldn’t let that happen. So, Coco was deemed a permanent member of the family.
Coco of course had no complaint at all about this. Someone nice and warm to cuddle with at night, tons of good food, and a lovely closet full of shoes to nestle into for naps.
One day, Molly realized that Coco would make a great service animal. She could go with her to educate people on the dos and don’ts of handling wild animals.
Coco enjoyed meeting new people and she was always a big hit with Molly’s classes. But, her real talent was in helping Molly rehab other animals. Since she loved to cuddle, it was easy for her to make frightened and sick animals realize that everything was going to be ok.
Since being rescued, Coco seamlessly became a staple of Molly’s home. Even though she was blind, she managed to get acclimated to her surroundings, often walking in circles until she could successfully navigate her surroundings.
She could almost always find the softest and best place in the house for taking naps during the day. And, of course, you could always find her in Molly’s bed at night.
“There is nothing that makes getting out of bed harder than having to leave a gently snoring round fluffball of snuggling woodchuck,” she said. Oh, if I only had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say that sentence, I’d…have a nickel!
It’s hard for Coco to remember those dark days before she ended up comatose in the back yard of an animal loving family.
She’s just very grateful that the family made all the right decisions when it came to finding her the best care possible.
May Molly and Coco wake up together many more mornings!
Source: Honest To Paws