Writer, with Groundhog

Normally when Chad and I go to McAlister’s Deli, it’s to support ARFP, the animal rescue group we volunteer with. Or because one of us is craving a giant baked potato. But last night we grabbed dinner there to support Piedmont Wildlife Rehab. And they brought groundhogs!

Piedmont Wildlife Rehab volunteers hold groundhogs at their McAlister's Deli charity night


I placed my order, then slipped back outside to see the groundhogs again. When Melissa Coe, PWR’s president, saw me snap a pic with my cellphone, she asked if I’d like to have my picture taken with one of the groundhogs. Of course, I said yes! I get a kick out of groundhogs, the way they trundle through a field nibbling grass or sit by the side of the road like over-sized meerkats watching cars go by.

Me standing next to Hanzel the Groundhog while a PWR volunteer holds him

Me and Hanzel

After we finished eating, Chad and I stopped to see the groundhogs one more time before heading home, and spent some time chatting with PWR rehab team member Kim Santos. She told me that the groundhog I’d had my picture taken with is named Hanzel. He and his sister, Gretel, were rescued when they were only a few days old and are now animal educators for PWR. Like bears, groundhogs hibernate in the winter, so Hanzel was back in his carrier for some quality pre-hibernation naptime. Gretel was still out, though, curled up on Kim’s lap, so I got to pet her. I was surprised by how wiry Gretel’s coat was.

Like ARFP, PWR is a private non-profit funded entirely by donations. No local, state, or federal government funds. Just what folks like you and me give. So after petting Gretel and talking with Kim for a while, Chad pulled out the cash he had in his pocket, went inside to find a donation jar, and gave the money to a PWR volunteer. It wasn’t much, just a few dollars, but every little bit helps.

To learn more about Piedmont Wildlife Rehab and how you can help them, go to http://piedmontwildliferehab.org/ . Or visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=51216531643 . Or search petfinder.com to find an animal rescue or wildlife rescue in your area. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get to pet a groundhog, too!

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