Fisher Cats

Appreciation and respect for a spouse’s amazing traits and character – reasons we fell in love – tend to fade, worn thin by the cumulative noise and tasks of everyday life. This declaration won’t come as any great news-flash to those who are married.

More than screaming children or barking dogs, heart-numbing noise is more subtle. Nit-picky. It may appear in the form of irritation, maybe about upright toilet seats, as if the intent was to cause offense, rather than being a simple, momentary lapse of manners. There are no personal confessions here. Those are to be done in private directly to my dear husband’s face. Human nature being what it is, I have come to understand that I need occasional reminders of the “why” I married him in the first place. Sometimes, those reminders come in ways I’d never have expected, such as wounded fisher cats.

My calm Sunday afternoon – finally! a respite from the seemingly constant demands of the children – was interrupted by my daughter bursting into my sewing room, tearfully pleading, “Come outside because Daddy caught a wild animal and he’s really badly hurt!”

She disappeared just as quickly as she’d arrived, the slamming of the front door announcing her departure. I felt stunned, as images flashed through my mind, remembering the last time I was summoned to help an injured wild animal. I was in the shower when my husband burst in, tearfully pleading “…please, I need you….please….help me save the poor, beautiful deer…”. She’d leaped into the side of his SUV, as he drove along a remote mountain-pass just minutes from our home. Memories of sitting cross-legged on the November-cold asphalt driveway under a Utah baseball-sized starry night – her head cradled in my bathrobed lap, as a mix of tears and drops from my wet hair splattered her exquisite face…

I shook my head, snapping back to New Hampshire reality, shelving the Utah memories for later review. My heart lurched as I recalled my daughter’s words, “…he’s badly hurt.”

Had my daughter been referring to my husband, and not an animal?

Only a few seconds had passed, the usual amount of time needed for the adrenaline to kick in, surging through my veins, propelling me down the stairs, out the door. “Thank you, Lord”, I whispered when I saw my husband looked fine, all in one piece. The same thing couldn’t be said for the creature he was holding. I’d never seen anything like it, and whatever it was, was suspended upside-down, my husband gripping its hips, disabling any striking out with claws or teeth.

“Please bring a towel”, he said calmly, precisely, in the tone he always uses when he knows I’m unnerved.

The process lasted a good share of the afternoon – finding a towel, wrapping the creature, locating a pet carrier in which to place “it”, identifying “it” as a fisher cat, placing calls to wildlife rescue answering machines, providing some food and water, and determining the extent of injuries.

Finding ourselves in a moment-of-calm, we sat back, exchanging stares with the less-frightened, now-curious creature, as we waited for call-backs. Experience had taught us that vets would ignore us, and that most wild-life rescuers would be slow to respond, either swamped with the critters they had, or gone for the day, rescuing.

It left me wondering if Crocodile Hunter needed to be placed in the “banned TV” category. Of late, there had been too many captured snakes held up by my victorious daughter, in hopes of winning my enthusiastic displays of applause and admiration for her bravery.

Perhaps I was too lenient and my time was better spent in front of the mirror, honing a stern face, practicing a lecture about “leaving wild creatures in the wild…developing observation skills without hands-on experiences…”. That was a definite veering off the home-school road to educating that I didn’t want to take.

The open-wound stench wafting from the cage grew stronger, interrupting our break. With a resolved sigh, my husband said, “let’s look at the wounds”.

Deep gashes. Large punctures. Ripped away coat and flesh. The injuries weren’t fresh, too deep to heal without stitches, filled with flies, crawling with maggots. My I-Want-To-Be-A-Vet daughter threw her hands over her tear-filled eyes crying out, “Oh, this is much too horrible. I can’t look.”

“We have to clean it out,” my husband declared, pausing to bow his head in a quick prayer. I felt his internal battle, the focus of helping the poor creature, winning over revulsion.

Following his directives, my daughter and I gathered the necessary items – scissors, tweezers, cotton ball, gauze, warm water – only to find that my husband’s resolve to begin the gruesome task, had been so strong, he’d gone in bare-fingered, albeit hydrogen peroxide sanitized from the bottle I’d quickly grabbed and brought outside when I’d first heard of a possible injury.

As we watched, my daughter’s queasiness was overcome by amazement. “Daddy, you’re my hero” she said, not once, not twice, but a dozen times, occasionally touching his arm, gently stroking his shoulder, adoration pouring from her eyes.

Even though the creature seemed calm (a baby? shock?), the word “eviscerate” occupied my thoughts as I viewed the fisher cat’s claws, clearly designed to destroy whatever it willed.

Surely, the fact that it lounged, belly-side up in my husband’s towel-draped lap, was an indication it didn’t have long to live. At one point, I broke my husband’s concentration when I questioned “whether this is the wisest thing to do, considering the risks….”

His eyes drew mine to his and he gently said, “It needs to be done. I can’t walk away from this….”

I’m not a romance-novel reader. In fact, I struggled to finish my one and only attempt at trying to see what other women saw in them. A steady diet of Perfect-Man, Difficult-to-Capture-Maiden relationships, would only cause real life to appear less exciting, empty and less satisfactory when compared to crafted words of people who always said the right thing, in the right way, with the right look.

I’ve found real moments in life to be far more satisfying. The brief respites, where we stop to give thanks for the fabric of our life and who we love – carefully woven together by the Creator along a journey fraught with seemingly constant trials – have amazing “staying” power, the ability to carry me over to the next challenge of interpersonal sand traps.

Real life moments are easily recognized by the renewed thudding of my heart. My attention shifts to studying the curves of his hands or committing to memory a certain heart-wrenching tilt of his face taking me back in time to when we first met. My soul feels renewed, rejoicing in the blessings wherein I offer up small prayers of thanksgiving of His Sovereign Design which placed me with this specific man in a very specific, intentional moment in time. A sense of well-being, complete peace in being safe, living “as one” often causes me to become painfully, blissfully aware of him as husband, father, companion and friend who is not only adorable but worth adoring.

Tomorrow, perhaps, that sense will carelessly slip to the back-burner on my heart, overtaken by a self-centered need for other things from him. The need for him to achieve a certain chore, or to hear him say words in a certain way – hoping he’ll ask me to sit next to him on the couch after the children are finally tucked into bed – are little subtle ways I’ll unfairly judge him or our marriage, which stand to weaken our union.

The Apostle Paul was a great encourager for people to look back and ‘remember’. If I feel myself slipping back into petty moments of dissatisfaction, I now have one more memory to remember – his look, his determination, his commitment to do what he felt was the right thing, as loathsome a task as was ever required, his words, I pray, will come to me, “It needs to be done. I can’t walk away from this…”

…and I’ll fall in love all over again.

  1. Dear Sharon,

    Surely you know that fisher cats are killing beloved pets all over New England. I’ve lost all my own sweet outdoor kitties to this scourge, and though I understand you and your husband’s compassion towards a wounded animal, fisher cats have caused profound heartbreak and will continue to, and the less there are of them the better. So needless to say I find your story disturbing on multiple levels, and the photo shopped image even more so. I came across your page while researching how to get rid of the fisher cats in my area (none i’ve found), and I’m sorry, but I felt the need to speak up.


    Linda G.

    — Linda    Jan 7, 02:36 AM    #
  2. Hi, Linda
    Thanks for writing and expressing your views. Unfortunately, “kitties” kill 90% of the songbirds, so while I know it is difficult to lose a beloved pet, maybe the answer, instead of killing one of God’s creatures, is to keep your kitties inside. There’s a balance in nature, and just like in war, even the most hated of enemies should receive medical care when they’re injured, as this fisher cat was. If it makes you feel better, the “rescue” destroyed the fisher cat immediately.

    Sharon    Jan 7, 03:26 AM    #
  3. I must say, I loved reading this story. It reminds me of an old boyfriend and how he would react to a situation regarding an injured animal, which is part of why I loved him. I was searching the internet for photos of a fisher (trying to remember if I saw a fisher once or if it was a pine marten) and came across this blog post. Unfortunately I found a lot of dead fisher photos, but I’m glad to see that there are people that care about wild animals and aren’t afraid to help them instead of kill them. I wish more people had empathy and respect for wild animals. I’m trying to understand, is empathy something that can only be taught when a person is a child? Things get so confusing when we grow up. My family was always interested and amazed by nature and passed it on to me when I was a kid. Also had that boyfriend who taught me that tough guys can care for animals too.

    I don’t understand the post by the other lady. It doesn’t seem at all relative to your blog post in fact I think it was needlessly hurtful and she should have maybe thought it over a bit. Instead of being so afraid of the wildlife that you want it killed, please keep the kitties inside.

    So, by accidentally arriving at this webpage, I came away with was a reminder of a love for something and someone other than yourself, which is a good reminder! So thanks for sharing your experience in such a well put together post. And those are great photos. Fishers are beautiful creatures and not many of us will ever get to see one alive and up close like that, so you had a truly special moment there.


    — Stephanie    Jun 5, 02:24 AM    #
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