Mr. Dodo was an American toad of no particular distinction. He did not, for example, have madcap adventures in motorcars nor count among his friends a mole and a water rat. Nevertheless, simply by going about his ordinary toad life, Mr. Dodo earned the steadfast affection of the Virginia family in whose yard he made his home; each spring, his reappearance after a winter’s hibernation occasioned general delight and celebration. Respectfully left to his toad habits, he grew contentedly on his steady garden diet of bugs and slugs. All was well.
Then one year, catastrophe struck. Dad was rototilling, Mr. Dodo was abiding unseen, and in one brief, terrible moment, their paths converged. Mr. Dodo suffered a grievous wound, a deep laceration to his back. Children weeping, parents distraught, the family tenderly bundled up the toad and rushed him to Waynesboro, where Mr. Dodo was delivered, with much earnest entreaty for his care, into the hands of the staff of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.
Founded in 1982, the Wildlife Center is a veterinary hospital for Virginia’s wild creatures, treating an ever-varying cast of fauna large and small, from orphaned black bears to box turtles with broken shells. In 2009 alone, the Center admitted more than 2,500 animals for treatment, including two rare peregrine falcons, 45 mice, 101 white-tailed deer, 64 red-tailed hawks, and one five-lined skink.