Besides hefty stretches as a cross-country driver, Martha wears many hats during her morning shifts with the service – animal handler, seeker/stalker of the less cooperative patients, dabbler in diagnoses’, and a shoulder to caw on.
Martha explains, “I start at 7 and get the van ready, make sure I’ve got enough equipment – towels, crates, boxes, because you never know who you’re going to pick up. Some of the calls are from vets, some are straight rescue calls, and then some are calls from places like the botanic gardens about a ‘possum dragging its legs’ with only a broad location. Those are the hardest because by the time you’ve gotten there the animal has usually dragged itself somewhere else and you have to come away without being able to rescue that particular animal.”
A call from a Manly vet about an injured noisy miner draws us forward. Our van packed to the brim with songs and snuffles including – an unstable magpie, a flightless lorikeet, a wary tawny frogmouth, two orphaned possums, a yellow-faced honey eater fills every nook and cranny. (And it’s not even 9 AM).
“One call was to Gatton where somebody had dumped seven puppies on the side of the road in a box. We were bringing them out and putting them in the van – I’ve got an armful, the vet’s got an armful, everyone’s got an armful and just as I started to drive the long drive back to Wacol, a couple of them immediately did the dirty in the back. Boy… the smell!! Of course they were all rolling in it and we then had to get them OUT of the van. But they were cuties.”