Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3-14-2012 The start of something new... - about my logo picture and me

Hello!  My name is Sigi and I rehabilitate wildlife, mainly small mammals.  My "logo" picture is Tubby, a squirrel youngster who came to me in 2004 as a small baby orphan, the first of the season, and because he ate so well and did nothing but sleep in between, for a while he was this somewhat chubby baby--until he got company and moved around more.  That's when he lost all that baby fat.  But his name "Tubby" stuck.  Tubby was released when he was about 15 weeks old and went about his business like all wild squirrels do.  But a few weeks later he dragged himself back to the release cage and climbed inside through the still open release door.  I found him with his hind leg dangling.  He didn't fight me catching him, and I brought him to Tufts Wildlife Clinic in Grafton, MA, for X-rays and treatment.  The bone had fractured into several pieces which luckily hadn't shifted, so the vet put on this colorful cast and told me to keep Tubby confined for the next four weeks.  I expected a very unhappy and tough to deal with squirrel, but Tubby adjusted easily and seemed quite content with his situation.  After four weeks the cast was changed since the break hadn't completely healed just yet, but Tubby started chewing on it so eventually I removed it and hoped for the best. Two weeks later I transferred him back into the outdoor release cage so he could strengthen the muscles  and learn to jump and use the leg again.  Then I reluctantly released him again, and once again Tubby went about his squirrel business like everybody else.
Then one afternoon, as I was taking a short break between feeding wildlife babies and sat on the bench by our small pond, Tubby suddenly showed up and jumped into my lap.  He'd never done this and I was initially hesitant but then started to gently stroke his back and head as he cuddled in.  We quietly sat for about 10 minutes when suddenly I received his message loud and clear:  Tubby was saying Farewell.  Male squirrels migrate out to prevent inbreeding, and Tubby was no exception.  My heart started aching at the thought that I would never see him again, and a part of me wanted to hold on to him and not let go.  But I had to let go, and so I just continued to pet him until he finally climbed off my lap and slowly wandered off.  That was the last time I ever saw him.  I hope he survived and was able to sire the next generation, for this was a very intelligent and brave little guy who had overcome quite a few hurdles in his young life already.

In the coming days you will see pictures of handmade cards that I create pretty much from scratch.  Many have pictures of wildlife that have been in my care over the years, and I've chosen pictures of those animals whose stories were a standout from the many others that have passed through my home.  Don't get me wrong:  each animal that arrives is special in its own way and gets treated as such and receives the utmost care, but there are some that stand out and have stories that are worth telling.  I've written up a short synopsis of those stories and pasted them on the inside cover of each card.  The cards have inserts stapled in with non-mushy sentiments.

How did these cards come about?

It all started with a Cricut which my husband gave me for Christmas two years ago.  I had no idea what this machine was or what it could do or if I'd be the least interested in any of that, so it sat in the box for a few weeks until I could no longer put off checking it out.  Initially I made all the mistakes a newbie does:  make everything with the Cricut and create this colorful, crowded, somewhat primitive looking ugly something that I wasn't sure what it was supposed to be.  But then I had this sudden idea that maybe I could use dog breeds as a center picture, so I scoured eBay for rubber stamps I could use for that purpose.  Golly are there a lot to choose from!  eBay became an obsession for a while and hubby wasn't happy, but I started to make cards.  The Cricut sat on the sidelines during that initial craze.  -  Come to find out that cats might be a better choice than dogs, so back to eBay and look for cat rubber stamps.  Got a selection of those and made more cards, and by now I needed some way of displaying the cards.  A friend agreed to try and help me sell them in order to raise some funds so I would be able to offset the staggeringly high cost of wildlife rehabilitation.  I decided on a green three ring binder and mulled over the front cover which needed to be flashy enough to draw attention.  -  And that's how my logo came about, because what better picture was there than Tubby in his cast?
A customer saw Tubby's picture and wondered if I could maybe make a get-well card with that image.  Why didn't I think of that?  So I started to work on backgrounds and figured out a design for such cards.  The cards were gone in no time, I was elated and scoured the craft store for more supplies on sale, and by now I might break even in 5 years or so if I can keep up coming up with new designs and make them and continue to sell my cards.  Proceeds go to support my wildlife rehabilitation expenses which exceeded $3,000 out of pocket last year alone.
I will never have large quantities of the cards I create simply because it takes so long to make just one card.  This past winter I worked daily on creating flowers from scratch as embellishments for the cards.  I know that I can go to the craft store and buy ready made flowers, but I don't like their looks, nor do they fit in with my overall designs.  I like clean lines, I enjoy being out in nature, and I want that to reflect in my creations.  Of course not all cards I create are wildlife rehabilitation themed, I make a variety of different cards.

As my spring 2012 wildlife rehabilitation season gets under way, I will have a lot less time, if any, to make new cards.  Last year I took in 89 animals, and who knows how many will arrive this year.  I work alone, without volunteers, and often 24 hours are not enough time for all the work that I need to get done.  This is not paid work, the states view rehabilitators as specially trained volunteers which they govern but don't pay for our services.  Rehabilitators tend to have full hearts and empty wallets, that's just the way it is.  We do this work because we truly love wildlife, and our goal is always to successfully release a healthy animal back into the wild.  It can be heartbreaking work, but there is no better feeling than seeing an animal go without looking back.  It means we've done our job right.

I hope you'll check back frequently, and I hope you realize that what you will see here is unique and special and makes for wonderful gifts.  I've gotten nothing but positive feedback on my creations.


  1. Bravo Sigi!! good job! proud of you and how wonderful Tubby could communicate with you what a gift. I am sure he was very thankful for you.

    1. Sometimes an animal's message does come through loud and clear, and I am by no means "psychic" or an "animal whisperer". Just about all good dog or cat owners understand their animals, and it's no different with wildlife in a rehab setting if we take the time to be in tune with what they are trying to tell us. And again, every good rehabber knows exactly what I am talking about here, because they've been there, done that, have experienced these moments that can be so bittersweet.

  2. Sigi, what a sweet story about Tubby! It's a wonderful thing you do with the wildlife! I am one of Darlene's group (Dutchpapercrafts) and had to come look at your pictures after seeing some of the baby wildlife in your great card creations! I love all animals, but am particularly fond of squirrels. We have the big gray ones at my house. Jamie

  3. Sigi~Troy told me I had to read Tubby's story and now I'm wiping tears away...You are such an angel to not only rescue, rehabilitate, and love your babies but to know that the best thing you can do for them is let them go. God Bless You! ♥