We Rescued an Owl!

I’m not sure if you remember or not, but when we lived in California, we had a neighborhood owl. I was determined to find it before we moved out of our house. At night, it would hoot up a storm, and I would jab Bryon in the ribs and beg him to go outside and try to find it with me. He would invariably refuse, I would pout, and we wouldn’t go looking for the owl. Rarely does Bryon refuse me anything, but this was one of those times. I suppose getting out of bed to look for a nocturnal bird, notorious for blending into its surroundings, under the cover of night is a reasonable thing to refuse one’s spouse. Don’t tell him I agreed with him. Ever.

 

Still, that damn owl awakened in me a need to find, before I die, as many species of owl, in the wild, as humanly possible. I love birds. I love all birds. I love hearing them sing in the morning. I Iove watching them at the feeder. I even the stupid woodpecker pointlessly banging his little beak on our aluminum siding. I adore birds. I like when my family looks at me as if I’m a savant when I say things like, “Look! A cedar waxwing!” And, they reply, “Oh, you mean that bird?”

 

Yes, I have my Audubon guide, and my binoculars. I have birdfeeders, seed and suet. I have all those things that a friendly neighborhood, casual birdwatcher might have. But, that isn’t going to help me find, or see any owls. I don’t count seeing owls at zoos (gag), or in habitats. I want to naturally come across an owl. I realize how unlikely this is. Still, I want it to happen. I’ve told Bryon I want to plan random trips to far flung places where certain species live. He just says, “Yes, dear.” Such a good little soldier he is.

 

On Saturday, Collin comes tearing down the stairs yelling, “There’s an owl in the front yard! He’s just sitting in the grass!” Of course, I don’t believe him. Mostly because, why would there be an owl in the front yard? Kids are dumb, right? Plus, logic is on my side. It’s too late in the morning, and owls don’t sit in the grass.

Sure enough, an owl, sitting in the grass. Excuse the poor quality of photo. It was taken through the glass front door. I have an 11 year-old child who washes his hands like an 11 year-old child, and then touches everything, including the glass door.

Sure enough, an owl, sitting in the grass. Excuse the poor quality of photo. It was taken through the glass front door. I have an 11 year-old child who washes his hands like an 11 year-old child, and then touches everything, including the glass door.

 

But, sure enough, there was a barred owl, literally sitting on the grass, in the front yard. It was about ten a.m., so it was far too late in the morning for an owl to be sitting in the lawn, not in a tree, which was concerning behavior for an owl. After I took a few pictures through the front door, as not to scare him off, I approached my new best friend.

 

He didn’t move, or even attempt to move, so I knew something was wrong. I grabbed a towel from the basement, and he easily let me pick him up and move him to a nearby bush, where I thought he would appreciate the shelter, at the very least. It was raining a bit. He was very light, far lighter than I expected a bird of his size to be. He weighed less than the cats.

 

Me petting an owl, in pajamas and bed-head. Pretty, huh?

Me petting an owl, in pajamas and bed-head. Pretty, huh?

He was very easy to move and didn’t object at all. He seemed almost grateful to be moved. I’ve heard that wild animals, even dangerous animals, will recognize when humans are trying to help, and become docile for those moments. He even leaned his little head forward and let me touch his head for a few strokes. It was pretty precious. I didn’t press my luck, not because it seemed to bother him, but because he’s a wild animal, and it’s not my business to pet him.

 

So, now I’ve not only seen a barred owl outside, I’ve picked one up, moved it, and pet its head. What a day. Except, this little guy is definitely not doing so hot. I tell Bryon that we need to get him something to eat. I tell him we are going to have to go to the pet store and get some feeder mice, because he’s obviously not capable of hunting; but, as Bryon points out, he’s not capable of killing the mouse himself either, and no one in this house is going to kill a mouse. Alas, we have a problem. Cat food it is. Did you know that owls don’t like cat food? They don’t. At least this owl didn’t. Or, he wasn’t hungry. Who knows? We gave him a big ol’ plate of wet cat food and the owl turned up his little (actually pretty big) beak at it as if we offered him gruel.

 

But, I knew I had to call the department of fish and game, anyway. A sick or dying bird of prey in your yard is potentially sign of danger, as they are the top of the food chain for birds. They can signify larger problems. So, I made approximately forty thousand phone calls before being routed to the correct number, which turned out to be the police, who came almost immediately to pick up my new best friend. By the way, when the police come to your house, you know it’s the police. They don’t knock, they KNOCK.

 

The cops that came were awesome. They told us that our new friend was a hatchling this year, so just a baby. He wasn’t showing any signs of West Nile virus, but they’d test for that at the lab. However, he did show signs of having been hit by a car. He had a minor skull injury, and an injury to his chest. He looked like his injuries were all minor and that he could be patched up and re-released. His daughter worked at the vet’s office that took in the birds for rehabilitation and release.

 

What was really awesome was how cool the cop was with Collin. He encouraged Collin to take a pic with the owl and he explained all of the info about the bird to Collin directly. He showed him all of the parts of the bird, described all kinds of facts, and pointed out some really neat stuff about his talons, and eyes. It was really cool that he took the time out of his day to do that. It was really special to have that moment. Although, I was probably more interested in the owl that Collin was!

My son with an owl “on” his shoulder. Yep, that’s how long his hair is. Most of it is in a ponytail. Nope he won’t cut it. Don’t even ask. We’ve given up trying. Pretty cool looking owl though, right?

My son with an owl “on” his shoulder. Yep, that’s how long his hair is. Most of it is in a ponytail. Nope he won’t cut it. Don’t even ask. We’ve given up trying. Pretty cool looking owl though, right?

 

Considering my track record with “rescuing” birds, I think this might be our best bird rescue to date. I generally do okay with rescuing other animals, but I’ve had some disastrous bird rescues (RIP to my other bird friends). All I can say about the whole situation is barred owl is checked off my list, I had an awesome day, and that we rescued an owl. How do you beat that!?

Daphne The Great

4:30 a.m. (look, getting it right more often): Are you up? I’m up. Everybody say haaaay-ooo for withdrawal insomnia.

The things your mind comes up with when you are tired, right?

The cats are up. Mostly, because I’m up, and they do what I do. I’m sort of their ringleader. Okay, I lie. I’m their bitch; but, they follow me around a lot because I have the treats and the soft touch with the wet food.

We’re missing an animal here this early morning. So, I'm going to talk about my dog, for a rambling bit. M'kay?

She's glorious when she's basking, isn't she? She thinks she is, and she owns it. Work it, girl. Work it.

She's glorious when she's basking, isn't she? She thinks she is, and she owns it. Work it, girl. Work it.

She’s in the doggie hospital, and we don’t know when she’s coming home. We’re pretty worried about the stupid oaf. We love her. I mentioned before that she had been clamoring to go outside more and more often, and I feel so guilty about being annoyed with her about it now because she didn’t feel well. At least now we don't have to think about giving her up, not for one second. She's happy here, she just didn't feel well. In the back of my mind, I’d wondered if that was why she was doing it. But, it’d coincided with Bryon traveling more, and that’s something she does when he travels, so I chalked it up to that.

A pretty old picture from Virginia, but she certainly loves giving love, even if the receiver finds it a bit, well, too much. I love how tiny Collin's head is in her arms. She's so gentle. She knows exactly how much pressure to put on someone smaller than herself. You should see her "play," or rather, attempt to "play" with the kitten.

A pretty old picture from Virginia, but she certainly loves giving love, even if the receiver finds it a bit, well, too much. I love how tiny Collin's head is in her arms. She's so gentle. She knows exactly how much pressure to put on someone smaller than herself. You should see her "play," or rather, attempt to "play" with the kitten.

About a week ago, when she wasn’t just skipping meals when he was gone, but also when he was home, I started floating the idea that maybe we should take her to the vet. I got more insistent when she stopped sleeping in her bed, and when she had an accident in the house for the first time, ever in her life. Okay, she had another one when she was a puppy, but that one doesn’t count, and we’ve not spoken of the river of diarrhea (that’s the world’s hardest word to spell) since, as it was a family pact that night, never to speak of it again. The lake of shit, we called it.

Personal boundaries. Nope. Not for a Great Dane. P.S. Also, no sense of personal size. She's pretty sure she fits here. She doesn't.

Personal boundaries. Nope. Not for a Great Dane. P.S. Also, no sense of personal size. She's pretty sure she fits here. She doesn't.

Still, it seemed like, maybe it was a bunch of random, unrelated behaviors, not just one thing that screamed, “I’m a sick lil’ doggie!” And, otherwise she seemed okay. She slept on the couch. She wagged her tail. She got excited when we came home. She was so frustratingly normal in most regards, that it was hard to pull the trigger on the whole, “let’s take her in,” decision.

I know this video has NOTHING to do with what I'm talking about...but it's crazy cool. Collin had been messing with the phone, when it was new, and learned about the SloMo feature. Look how huge she looks! Well, that's how huge she is, but it looks cool.

Anyway, boy am I glad we took her in. The vet said, “this is one sick dog.” Why is it that no matter how you phrase that, it sounds like you are being sarcastic; using weird, but lame street lingo; or, trying to be covertly, and cheesily sexual about something else? One of her liver enzyme levels was so high that it couldn’t be accurately measured by his equipment. For real. Good God, Daphne. And, others were all in the ghastly range. In other words, she’s jaundiced. He’s got her on antibiotics; but, it’s anyone’s guess why and how this happened.

People often marvel at her size, and don't really get a good perspective at how big she is. This is from when we first moved into this house. This is Daphne next to the box for our flat screen television. She's as big as the T.V. So, yeah, she's not tiny. And, she's the runt of her litter, which made her the petite gal of her gang. She's 120 lbs, right now, which has her out-weighing me.

People often marvel at her size, and don't really get a good perspective at how big she is. This is from when we first moved into this house. This is Daphne next to the box for our flat screen television. She's as big as the T.V. So, yeah, she's not tiny. And, she's the runt of her litter, which made her the petite gal of her gang. She's 120 lbs, right now, which has her out-weighing me.

He said that it could be a slowly developing allergy to her insanely expensive, high-quality diet. Thanks for that, Daphne. It would be nice of you to develop an allergy to the food that we special-order for you, and have delivered to the house. No biggie, we’ll just start you on a prescription diet. I’m serious, of course. We would, but come on. Dog, stop it. Right now. She’s well trained. She might listen, even though I sound harsh right now. Right? Hope lies in strange places. This is the most likely culprit, but seems unusual, even to the vet.

Her best shots are pictures like these taking care of me. Her best skills are sleeping, napping, laying down and resting. So, when others are doing the same, she's ready to jump right on board and help out.

Her best shots are pictures like these taking care of me. Her best skills are sleeping, napping, laying down and resting. So, when others are doing the same, she's ready to jump right on board and help out.

Or, it could be a parasite, which she could’ve picked up at the emergency vet, or even their office, when she had her cyst removed in September; but that’s unlikely. Parasites come, usually, through fecal contact. Our vet is pretty sanitary, so she’d have had to have licked up something pretty icky, after something else pretty icky, that wasn’t cleaned up properly. Yummy, parasitic poop trail. Stranger things have happened. But, doctor’s offices are clean. However, animals poop everywhere, and you can’t catch everything.

One of my favorite shots of my babies, which I'm sure I've shared before. I'd been sick with a Chiari headache for over a week, missing my husband's promotion, and his party. My animals were snuggled with me, taking good care of me though. I don't know what I'd do without them.

One of my favorite shots of my babies, which I'm sure I've shared before. I'd been sick with a Chiari headache for over a week, missing my husband's promotion, and his party. My animals were snuggled with me, taking good care of me though. I don't know what I'd do without them.

And finally, it could be because her gallbladder isn’t working properly, causing the bile sludge to back up the whole system. If that’s the problem, we are in a hurry up scenario, especially with her, because her gallbladder would be pretty large, and if it bursts, she’ll die. He said that if her gallbladder walls are weak, and filled with sludge or stones, it could burst at any time, so we have to find out, and now. So, he is in contact with the traveling ultrasound vet, arranging to have her ultrasounded (Word believes that not to be a word, oh well) today, to see if it needs to be removed.

Thankfully, we also have Daphne's excellent skill set of protecting us from invisible intruders that only she can see. She warns us of these intruders by barking incessantly at them, and scaring them away. She's also very good at insisting on pristine spots on the couch, on which to take her 18-hour naps, pushing all of our pillows into piles, as shown. Weird and perfect dog that she is.

Thankfully, we also have Daphne's excellent skill set of protecting us from invisible intruders that only she can see. She warns us of these intruders by barking incessantly at them, and scaring them away. She's also very good at insisting on pristine spots on the couch, on which to take her 18-hour naps, pushing all of our pillows into piles, as shown. Weird and perfect dog that she is.

I have to pause here to reveal a secret about writing these things: I usually write for ten minutes, then screw around for 10-20 minutes, then write ten more. Or, some other “work/life” balance that sounds more important, like write, then meal-prep. Today, I’ve written ten minutes, then messed around for, like 45 minutes. I think, I don’t want to think about my dog being sick. Obviously. She went for a ride in the car with us, which she loves, because it’s endless possibilities for her, and then got left at the scary vet, when she feels terrible. I feel rotten.

Happy dog, on a happy car ride just for the heck of it, to pick up Collin from school. Yep, let her ride in the Audi. That big old beast fits just fine in the back seat, because she curls in a ball, and snuggles in.

Happy dog, on a happy car ride just for the heck of it, to pick up Collin from school. Yep, let her ride in the Audi. That big old beast fits just fine in the back seat, because she curls in a ball, and snuggles in.

I love animals. I try so hard to take good care of mine, to listen to the way they talk to me. I watch their body language, to make sure that I’m not bothering them, but doing things the way they want me to, when playing with, or petting them. I work hard to get them good food, toys and treats. I want their lives to be comfortable and happy, and I failed my girl here. Now, she’s sick, scared and alone. I just want her better, and home with us, so I can spend the rest of her life making up for it.

My current favorite picture of the other terror in the house, Loki. He was helping me read, not very effectively, I might add.

My current favorite picture of the other terror in the house, Loki. He was helping me read, not very effectively, I might add.

With a dog, I can flop all over her and spoil her with petting, love and attention, thankfully. Had this been Homer, the only way I could make it up to him would be to leave him alone, and let him retreat to the comfort of his study, away from all people. Dogs have a way of letting you love on them, the way you want to, tolerating all of your nonsense, and eating it up like melting ice cream. Cats, not so much. As a relatively cold, not all that affectionate, person myself, I think I relate more to the cats, but appreciate the need for a dog in the great balance of the universe, as I have been over-petting the cats, at this moment of dog-despair.

The whole animal clan, being animals. Animal life would be sad without any of them. Loki, you are ruining the shot with your ridiculous sleeping pose, by the way.

The whole animal clan, being animals. Animal life would be sad without any of them. Loki, you are ruining the shot with your ridiculous sleeping pose, by the way.

Okay...we were missing one animal from the cozy napping above; although Daphne understands that Frodo is a friend, not food, the cats, not so much. They will play with Frodo, if he's in his ball, which Frodo seems to delight in, fleeing and then charging them with impunity. But, outside of his ball, that's another story. Homer seems too old to bother caring, bot Loki has made it his life's mission to find, destroy and then eat that hamster.

Frodo says that the meta irony of making his stocking a rodent is a little strange, but he's down with it, so long as it gets him a present from Santa Paws, which it did.

Frodo says that the meta irony of making his stocking a rodent is a little strange, but he's down with it, so long as it gets him a present from Santa Paws, which it did.