Category Archives: pets

Nature must take its course … even when I don’t want it to.

I tried to save a baby bird today.   Don’t know if I did.  I saw it while walking two unruly dogs.  The poor little thing was flopping around in the street curb, under the warm Alabama sun.  Today it reached 87 degrees.  My heart sank when I saw it, and I told myself to walk on and that birds die all the time, even when I’m not there to witness it.  But even as I passed it by, I knew what I was going to do.

I took the dogs home, got a wash cloth, and walked back to the piece of curb where I had seen the little thing.  I wrapped it in the cloth, it didn’t even struggle.  My first inclination was to set in down on the grass not far from where I had found it, but then I thought, if I were going to die, I’d rather do it under the shade of a tree.  So I took it back to our house and set it under a shady bush.  It couldn’t hold up its neck.  Perhaps it had a broken neck, or wing.  Every twenty minutes or so I went out and checked on it.  Eventually, its eyes opened and it looked right at me.  I let myself believe that it knew I was trying to help.  Then it occurred to me that maybe it would like some water.  So I got a little dish and took it out to the small bird.  It couldn’t seem to drink, but it started chirping.  I thought that a good sign.  After an hour or so, it was able to hold its head up just a little, and I had hope that it was getting better.  Maybe it was hungry.

I googled what to feed a baby/hurt bird.  That’s when I learned about the fledgling stage.  And how well-meaning people often mistake baby birds learning to fly as injured birds.  Several articles said that fledglings live on the ground and hop around trying to get the hang of flying, and this stage can last anywhere from 5 to 15 days.  I also learned that you’re not suppose to give them water or feed them.  Just put them under the tree where their nest was, because mother birds still feed fledglings.

Dammit.  Everything I did was wrong!  I moved it from its tree, I tried to give it water, I was going to try to feed it, and meanwhile the poor mother was probably searching for her baby.   The mother?  Then I remembered that when I went back for the bird there was a fat robin sitting on the curb near the baby, but flew off when I walked up.  Must have been the mother.

So it started over.  I got my wash cloth, took the baby back down the street and placed it under a tree in a neighbor’s yard that was not far from where I had found it.  The tree sat on a slight hill, and if I were a crime scene reconstructionist, I would guess that the bird, after jumping from the nest, fell to the ground trying to fly, and rolled down the hill, landing in the gutter on the street.  I put the baby under the tree,  between two big roots, so that it wouldn’t roll away.   At that point, the baby was able to sit up on its own.  Proving to me that it wasn’t injured, just originally uncoordinated.  I left it, hoping that I had put it under the right tree.  But who knows?  A couple of hours later, I checked on it, and again when I walked up, a big fat robin flew away.   Please, be the mother.  The baby was still in the same area where I had set it, but it had moved and was facing a different direction.

I’d like to think it will be okay.  I guess I’ll check on it tomorrow, and pray that tonight no stray cats find it.  I’ve been telling myself that, in the end, I did the right thing.   Left alone, the baby probably wouldn’t have been able to get itself out of the street before getting hit by a car.  I have no idea why trying to save this little creature struck me so hard today, but I was simply unable to leave it flailing in the street.  And tomorrow, if I should find that the little guy didn’t make it … I will remind myself that nature has to take its course, even when I don’t want it to.

UPDATE:  Unfortunately, the little birdie didn’t make it.  I found it at the bottom of the hill.  I don’t know if its original injuries were too great to overcome, or if it fell down the hill again.  This may sound crazy, but I buried it in the backyard.  I just couldn’t leave it dead on the sidewalk, and it didn’t feel right to throw it in a trashcan.  So, it’s buried among the azalea bushes.  I’ve been thinking recently how insane it was for the mother bird to build a nest on a hill, near the road.  How are any of her babies supposed to survive?  I feel like reporting her for child endangerment.  Maybe this was her first chick.  Maybe she’ll learn.  Hope so.



Filed under Creative writing, Humor, Life, Loss, Love, Nature, pets, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Fuzzy Babies

A group of women gathered around the jewelry counter, like clucking hens.  As they gossiped and laughed, I hung big red banners from the ceiling.  Anniversary Sale.  Everything 25% off.  My ladder wobbled just a little as I reached towards the sky to secure the sign with a cable tie.  I disturbed dust-caked ceiling tiles and the particles floated around my face.  My eyes watered and I spat out the dust.

Banners hung, I climbed down the ladder and wiped my dusty hands on my jeans.  I could wear jeans on my job.  The hens wore skirts or slacks, with silky and frilly blouses.  They were adorned in dangling earrings and long necklaces.  Their shoes had heals, and made clomping noises as they walked across the sales floor.  My shoes had thick rubber soles, and usually a drop of paint or two on the bottom.

My back to them,  I folded my ladder.  All at once, they swooned, “Oh, how cute.” 

My brain raced through the possibilities of what could be so cute to make them all squeal.  The only thing I could think of was a puppy – a white fluffy puppy with a big red bow in its fur.  Don’t ask why.  I don’t know myself.  I imagined that a customer, or employee with the day off, brought the said puppy in to show her off.

My heartbeat quickened.  I smiled as I leaned my ladder against the side of the escalader, anticipating holding someone’s new little fuzzy baby.  I crossed through rows of socks and  purses, to the jewelry counter.  The hens stood in a semi-circle “oohing” and “aahing” over the object of their admiration.  I pushed in between them.  A couple of them stepped aside to let me butt in on their party.  My eyes widened, taking in the scene. 

 There was no puppy.  Just a woman with her hands on a baby stroller.  The pink, chubby baby lay under mounds of blankets,  like an overstuffed burrito with ears.  My heart sank.  It’s just a baby.

“How cute,” I told the proud mother,  half-heartedly. 

As I left the hens to fawn over the baby that looked like a  Taco Bell combo-meal, I wondered what was wrong with me.  Why was I disappointed that the baby wasn’t a dog? 

I didn’t have the answer, but that was the moment.  The moment I knew I wasn’t going to be a mother.


Filed under baby, comedy, Creative writing, dog, Family, Humor, Life, motherhood, Parent, pets, postaweek2011, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Little Yellow Flags

Wolfgang and Bunny

Crisp air swirled around us as we strolled arm and arm in his back yard.  Kicking up yellow and brown leaves as we went, I positioned my hand higher to give him more balance.  This is good, I thought. He needs fresh air. 

At long last fall had wrestled control of the days away from summer, not a small feat in the south. He stopped to pull his sweater tighter around himself.  “I wonder what the flags are for,” he said fastening a black button and pondering the little yellow flags waving near the back edge of the yard. 

Leaves crunched behind us as a little black and white fuzzy torpedo came running up with a ball. I picked up the toy lain at my feet, and gave my father the simplest answer that I could, “The landscapers put the flags there.”  Tossing the red ball as far as I could, Bunny, the shih-tzu torpedo, took off with her tail high in the air.

“When were landscapers here?”  He never remembered.

We had gone over this several times, but the cardiac arrest had left him with some brain damage.  Now there where huge gaps in his memory, and often times my visits were spent filling in those gaps.  Usually, the holes were monumental: who I was, where he lived, what had happened to him.  Today he simply wanted to know about the flags again. 

“They came when you were in the hospital, Pop.”

“When was I in the hospital?”  Bunny danced around his legs for attention.  I picked her up.

“Late September through most of October.”  The little dog squirmed and wiggled in my arms.

“Oh. I don’t remember any of that.”  He always said that.

“I know.  It’s probably better that way.” 

“I guess so.”  He patted Bunny on the head as I reminded him about the cardiac arrest and the CCU.  When I explained about his pace-maker and defibrillator he touched his chest, feeling the lump that was about the size of a deck of cards.  “I wondered what that was.”

“You’re the bionic man now.”  He looked amused.  It was better to keep things light, otherwise he became overwhelmed.

Bunny begged for attention and he took her from my arms.  “I haven’t seen Wolfgang today.  He must be under the bed.” 

I considered ignoring that observation, only to decide that the truth was best.  “Wolfgang passed away, Pop.”

Pain crossed his face.  “I didn’t know that.”

I told him gently, “Yes, you did.  You’ve just forgotten.”

His occupational therapist had said that repetition was the key.  She said eventually it would start to sink in.  I sure hoped that was true. It was excruciating seeing him discover over and over who was still here and who had passed on.

“It doesn’t seem like I can remember anything.” 

“That’s a side-effect from the cardiac arrest,” I said trying to reassure him.

Stroking Bunny’s ears, he asked, “When did Wolfgang die?”

“In August.”  Just over a month before the event that changed his life.

“Where is he?”

“You buried him, and then you planted a daffodil to remind us.”

“I did?  Where?”

I pointed to the spot in the yard.  “Over there.  Where the little yellow flags are.”

He walked towards them, setting Bunny down as he went.  She followed.  Stopping in front of the flags, he took in the prospect. 

“The landscapers didn’t want to upset his grave, so they marked it.”

“That’s thoughtful.  He was a good dog.”

I tucked my hand under his arm again.  “Yes he was.”

He grinned.  “One time he stole a loaf of bread off the counter top.  Reached right up and pulled it down with his teeth.”  Funny the things that did come back to him.

Smiling, I added, “But he put the half-eaten loaf in Rusty’s bed to hide the evidence.”

“Rusty,” he gasped.  He had forgotten about Rusty.  “So, Rusty is gone too?”  That was a good assumption.  If Wolfgang was gone, then Rusty, who was older, must be gone too.  Sometimes his reasoning skills worked.

“Yes, two years now.” I walked to the other side of the flower bed and pointed to more little yellow flags. “He’s over here.”  Bunny tromped through the garden, unaware of her predecessors. 

“And that must be Teddy,” he said pointing to another set of flags.

“Yes.” Pleased that he had figured that out, and that there were no tears today, I considered that maybe somewhere in his sub-conscious it was sinking in.

My mom and I could have taken the flags down weeks ago, but we didn’t.  Perhaps, we wanted to remember too.

“You know,” he said turning to me with a twinkle in his eye.  “I don’t think you’re allowed to have a pet cemetery in the city.” That he remembered.


Filed under Cardiac Arrest, caring for the elderly, Creative writing, dog, Family, Father, Life, Love, Parent, pets, Starting Over, Unemployed, Writer, Writing