Allow me to introduce myself. I am Annette King Tucker, a wildlife rehabilitator in Rogers County Oklahoma, near the ever growing city of Claremore. I love my home town, love my home State. Green Country--a place where Mother Nature is in charge and the rest of us are either fighting to take her over or living within her bounty, appreciative of all she has to offer. I like to think of myself as a steward for Nature. What I do with my time isn't always popular, but in the scheme of things, it is no doubt the right thing to do.
I work to rescue and rehabilitate wild animals who have fallen into harm's way, typically by some manifestation or interference of mankind: dogs, cars, cats, fencing, guns, windows and of course, progress. Our pets carry and spread diseases the wild animals cannot fight, and of course there are no humans responsible for the affected animals. I feel it is unfair that the suffering of domestic animals and humans is regarded as more worthy of help than the creatures we harm in the wild, and so I have ruined my life to care for them.
When I say, "ruining my life," I mean simply that my life has absolutely no stability or plan based on the expectations of "responsible" members of society. Once upon a time, I had a profession, equity, lines of credit, and a retirement plan . . . and then I decided to be a rescuer who turns nothing wild in need away. In other words, I did whatever I had to do and sacrificed whatever needed to ensure these animals received help.
I remember borrowing $20,000 against my farm one year (of many) to purchase infant mammal formula. When I gave the loan officer my reason, he wrote "medical emergency" on the application. It was at that moment that I realized that stepping up to a need, which I was not technically responsible for, wasn't always regarded as noble. I wasn't a "crazy cat lady," but I was somewhere on that path. I learned to keep my chin up, a smile on my face, and to exude confidence and conviction even when, on the inside, I was scared out of my mind. It's healthy to be scared when you take lives under your wing on faith alone. But, somehow each month, the miracles show up to cover the need, and nothing goes without. It's amazing.
After awhile, you relax into faith and know that, regardless of your religious beliefs, there is more at work in this world than your own hands. Somehow, I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I find tremendous peace in that.
Eighteen years after this venture began, I find I have learned so much about animals, and even people. I've met more people working with animals than I ever did working with people, and this has taught me a lot about human nature and animal nature. I now believe that the world is made up of three kinds of people/creatures (cliché, yes, but stay with me): those who absorb resources to survive, and only contribute energy where they can benefit; those who contribute more energy than they need to survive, and who spill that surplus over to the third kind, which are those who need help to thrive. Somehow this system works well, and even though we could eliminate all of the first kind and never miss them, I'm sure they have their purpose. :)
The third kind is where I come in. Once my daughter was raised, I really didn't need to be concerned about myself much. I stopped fretting over the future and started focusing on the mission, and then the message. How can I teach the world that we all suffer the same? How can I demonstrate compassion for creatures no larger than a flea fart, and make others feel compelled to care? Quite a challenge, but the job I do every day--caring for every species imaginable--gives me endless material to work with and share. This is what I do, and it is always my motivation behind any television or press appearance I make, and the writing that I do. Feeding myself is secondary, but it is nice when I can do both with writing, my second passion.
I will be a regular feature in The Green Country Guardian, and I hope that each month you will join me on a journey. A journey into the heart of the mysterious animals that surround us all in this bountiful state I call home. They are all around us, and their stories are more compelling than you can imagine. They live to survive and reproduce, and along the way they plant our trees, build our lakes and ponds, seed our fields, and decorate our world. They ask nothing of us, and yet we continue to invade their homes and habitats, while blaming them for invading ours. They are worthy of our respect and reverence because they, unlike us, live their entire lives needing nothing from anyone but themselves. With no possessions, funds, or assistance of any kind, their species thrive to the point of being referred to as nuisances . . . even though they were here before us. I can work my entire life trying to make up for the damage we do every day, and I will still only fix a fraction of a molecule of a drop in the proverbial bucket. But, if I can share these experiences and let you see through my eyes the richness that lies in the minds and lives of our wildlife, maybe that drop will grow, and somehow change will come and these animals will gain the respect they deserve.
Thank you, Green Country Guardian, for asking me to be a part of the team and your pied piper for wildlife. I hope to make you proud, but more than that, I'm working on my drop. Thanks for the opportunity.