I expected to do lots of things when I opened my studio, but rescuing injured wildlife wasn’t one of them. Today provided just that challenge. It was the last thing I wanted, but just what I needed. You see two days ago, I lost my 16-year-old cat.
Devil-cat earned her name. Marc and I rescued her as a wild kitten on our honeymoon. She spent most of her 16 years with us completely feral, even though she lived inside as a house cat. She hissed, scratched, and did bodily damage to anyone who tried to touch her. In fact, no one could pet her without fear of hemorrhaging. All until this past December, when she had what appeared to be a stroke and magically changed, becoming suddenly friendly and loving, if somewhat off-kilter.
Her transformation made her death two days ago that much harder. After all, I’d just started to really get to know her. Devil and I had just fallen in love.
Just when I thought I couldn’t take another trauma, an instructor e-mailed me. An injured pigeon huddled outside the studio door. All I could think was “No God, please, not another death. I don’t think I can stand it.” I even considered ignoring the e-mail and hoping the problem would magically resolve itself.
But I couldn’t. Instead, I went online and did some research. Armed with gloves, towels, a box and goggles, I set out to capture the wayward bird. But what would I do when I caught it? According to law, some animals aren’t worth saving, and pigeons are among them. Most wildlife rehab centers are prohibited from even trying. But fortunately Paws directed me to a lovely lady who has chosen to give up funding in order to help all animals, including my new feathered friend.
That bird couldn’t fly, but man could it run. I’m sure I looked like an idiot chasing the winged beast around the studio parking lot, begging it to stop and assuring I meant it no harm. When I finally captured her, I placed her on a towel in my hole-punched box and took off for Snohomish, hoping she wouldn’t die en route. Over an hour and several wrong turns later, I pulled up at Second Chance Wildlife Center. Owls, crows, blue jays, pigeons—even a chicken—all recuperated in cages when we arrived. And she (my pigeon was a girl) was still alive. The victim of a hawk attack, she wouldn’t have made it much longer out in the world, but here at this facility she stands a very good chance. All because of a woman who dedicates her life to helping beings less fortunate than herself.
What’s the yoga lesson in this? I guess first is to follow your dharma, your life work, just as this woman has done. Make your life meaningful. Stick by your principles. Help those less fortunate, even if it means giving up pleasures (or government funding) that would make your own life more comfortable. And know that, just as the Yoga Sutras say, when any being–no matter its species–suffers, we all suffer. Live with “active compassion” when you see suffering, and work as hard as you can to prevent similar suffering in the future.
I still grieve the loss of my cat, but I hope my bird makes it. I think she will. And I’m grateful for the new hope she’s given me, even in the midst of my loss.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!