I think I read this book at exactly the right time. I currently have a tiny seven-inch-long bearded dragon* in my bedroom. Since getting her on June 13th, things have changed around here. I get up at 6am whether I like it or not because that's when her lights come on and she wakes up, climbs out of her hammock** and starts looking around for food. I go and put some reptile pellets, vegetables and kale in her feeding dish, give her pieces of vegetables from my hand, take her out, pet her, let her watch the computer screen, put her back in, and then give her either live crickets or dead ones from a can. Oh yes, I have had to face my fear of crickets. I hate crickets so much. Or, I used to. Now I get to put them in the tank and watch my tiny pet predator go after them with the precision of a cheetah on the plains of Africa and it's great. The canned crickets are pretty gross, though. They are all juicy and yucky and dark colored, unlike the light tan crickets from Petsmart.
Then I go to work and come home and give her more dead crickets and try not to throw up from the smell.
And then her light turns off at 8 o'clock and we turn the bedroom lights off because she can't sleep with them on, and it makes us sleepy and we go to bed earlier. Which is probably a good thing.
And that is absolutely nothing compared to what Suzie Gilbert and other wildlife rehabilitators do on a daily basis for the mammals, reptiles and birds that surround us every day. Whether they are affected by humans, disease, other animals, or the environment, wild animals need care too, and Suzie Gilbert opened my eyes to what the people who care for them have to do. My developing bond with Loki let me see especially how people come to care for animals beyond cats and dogs. How a lizard or a bird can have its own personality. And how caring for an animal can make you do gross stuff like cut up baby mice or spoon crickets out of a refrigerated can.
The author takes us through an intensely personal journey, as she faces the difficulty people who care for animals face. When you have taken in one injured animal, what's another? And another? You can't just leave them to die. And it takes an immense personal toll. There are many you cannot save even with dedication and time and you know injured animals will never stop coming.
Suzie's love for birds (and all animals) shines through her text. I felt as though I was there with her in the story. It's a wonderful book.
* She will eventually be two feet, according to what I've read. Crazy. This is her now.
** Yes, she has a hammock. She sleeps clinging to one of the suction cups every night. Whatta weirdo.