Wednesday, July 11, 2018

How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck chuck?


Yesterday, on the way to work I was sitting in 3 lanes of traffic at a light.  There was a cement truck next to me and cars all around and in front of me.  When the light changed, just as cars barely began to move, a bird hopped out from under the car in front of me to the right.  It stood, uncertainly, on it's delicate little legs and I immediately identified it as a fledgling grackle.

Fledglings either hop around or fly in low short spurts for a few days until they are fully ready to fly for real.  This little guy is clearly not going to do well in this situation.  I had to make a decision and the only truly sane and reasonable one was to continue on, even knowing the little guy was doomed.  I had cars on every side of me and to stop and get out at that moment, just as traffic was beginning to move, would be beyond stupid.  And so, I drove.


Looking in the rearview mirror, I watched the cement truck tire roll over the little bird.  Me, being me, cried halfway to work.  I know the guy in the truck had no way to see that bird.  In fact, I am probably the only person who did and I'm sure it died instantly.  I got over it and went on with my day.

Today on the way to work, on a less busy road not far from my house, I see that a car has stopped and hands holding cell phones are pointing out of the window filming.  -in case you are wondering; yes this story is connected-  There were also two young guys on the hillside near the road pointing cell phones.  I looked and there, in the grass was a woodchuck.  These people had most likely never seen one before and were quite excitedly yelling, "It's a beaver!"

As I watched, the confused little "beaver," began to wander into the road.  Traffic was coming.  Not fast and not frequent, but it was there and frankly- people suck.  I HAD to stop.  I could not watch yet another critter get unnecessarily and coldly killed.  So I stopped the car and got out.  By this time two other guys had come along and we began trying to herd the critter (here after referred to as Chuck for obvious reasons) to a safer area.  As we are trying to do this, a car is approaching.  Five of us, two in the street, two on the side of the street,  and myself behind my car walking out into the road to stop the approaching car (it was driving slowly) are all yelling, "Stop!"  Our hands are out trying to slow them to a stop.  Does this guy stop?  Of course not.  Because people frickin' SUCK.

Slowing a bit, the person drives around my car where Chuck and he are clearly on a collision course and... yup....the car clips the poor little guy in the head.  Our little buddy Chuck rolled off to the side and the car continues forward without even hesitating.  After our initial shouts of dismay, we all have a few choice words for the driver. Chuck is not bleeding but clearly disoriented, so we go back to trying to herd him.  Within moments it becomes clear that he is not going to get off the road.

I kick off my shoes and get serious.  I ask one guy to grab the blanket in my car and a second man who is approaching tells me-  he knows Chuck! Chuck lives in his backyard! Another helpful dude grabs my shoes.

Originally, I was thinking to get our guy Chuck to Tufts, but knowing he has a home nearby, I think instead I will just bring him back to his home and let nature take whatever course it is going to take. I do have to get to work and I'm not so completely altruistic that I would miss lots of work for this. Blanket Guy is taking too long and Chuck is wandering back toward the busier part of the road so I make a command decision.  Time to pick him up.

And I do.  I grab his fat ass around the middle (and lord the little porker is FAT.  He had to be around 15 lbs!) where he can't reach my hands and hold him far from my body.  He's relatively calm.  I have to stop every few feet to let his feet touch the ground because he's freaking a little, but we are making good progress.  I get across the street to my car where Blanket Guy has finally retrieved the blanket and is coming towards me.  Seeing Blanket Guy, Chuck starts to get more agitated and I switch my hold to the scruff (which was probably sore as hell from being clipped by the asshole in the car) and he pees aaall over the other hand that is supporting his bottom.  Ewww.

In the second switch from holding him by the scruff to wrapping him in a blanket, Chuck manages to turn his head and chomp down on my finger.  Not particularly painful.  Honestly I've had my cats hurt me more.  But I'm thinking there's some antibiotics in my future.  Well, shit.   Thanks Chuck.

The guy with my shoes is now "helpfully" thrusting the shoes into Chuck's face saying, "Bite this.  Let him bite this." I'm not only thinking, "A little flipping late there buddy," but, "Those are $100 freaking shoes you jackass!" But he means well, so I manage to not beat him over the head with a panicked flailing woodchuck and carry on with my rescue like a mature adult.

Following the guy who knows where Chuck lives, the cause of this entire incident becomes clear.  The homeowner is doing construction about 15 feet from Chuck's home.  The construction involves a car sized hole being dug out with jackhammers and shovels.  Chuck had clearly gotten startled and disoriented and wandered into the road where things progressed from there.

So, here I am sitting in the emergency room writing this while I wait.  I went to work after the rescue and called the doctor's office figuring I will minimally need antibiotics.  Turns out that according to the CDC, of 357 humans infected with rabies last year, 93% were bites from woodchucks.  Aaaawesome. Oh and why am I in the ER? Because guess where your first rabies shot has to go? Directly into the bite. 

WTF Chuck?  Really?

You know what?  I don't care.  I would do it again.  Animal control has called me back and said they don't think they could catch him and advised I get shots (Ha! Beat them on that, didn't I?)  I explained why I did not believe Chuck was rabid and that I did NOT want them trying to find and test him.  They agreed.  So all is well that ends..... painfully?

Lesson learned? While a woodchuck may not chuck wood, his bite apparently packs one hell of a disease loaded wallop.

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