I could barely contain the excitement as I approached the front door. I had some news, some great news and like any other 7 year old girl bursting with joy, I could not get home fast enough to share it with my mom. (Back in the olden days, 2nd graders were perfectly safe walking to and fro school.) As I walked in grinning ear to ear, my mom came to the door to greet me. So this is what I remember…

“HEIDI ANNETTE what do you have?”
Noting she had used my middle name, I assure her, “It’s just a kitten”
“Who’s kitten is it?”
“It’s mine” I said in my proudest voice, “it’s all mine.”
I loved animals and had always wanted my very own cat, something I made clear more than enough times. As persistent as I was, the answer was always the same, you can get one…but not right now. Obviously cats must have been very expensive and my mom was just waiting until she could afford to buy me one. How else would a 7 year old rationalize having to wait?
“No, it’s not yours. Where did you get it?”
Convinced she would be relieved that she would no longer have to put all of her money in a kitty savings, and would be just as happy as I was, I proudly announced to her, “They were free today, so I thought I’d grab me one!”
I wasn’t kidding either. When the nice lady…with the box of kittens…sitting outside of an elementary school…as it let out…told us we could have one for free…today, I literally reached my hand through a crowd of people, into a box, and grabbed me one. MY new cat, Pixie fit in beautifully with our family. While it was made clear that it wasn’t o.k. to bring home an animal anytime I wanted, it doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t try.

My mom still laughs about that day. I learned fast that it had nothing to do with building a kitty savings, animals are a lot of work…even for a 2nd grader!

That was the first of many “Pixies.” My love for animals, all animals has continued to grow throughout the years. Given the opportunity, I would have 1 of everything…or at the very least a sloth, a bear, a dolphin, a penguin, a deer, a monkey, a kangaroo, a manatee, a elephant, a Shetland pony and a opossum. I would also want an Avery with a large assortment of birds (any color would do thank you.)

I have also done my share of rescuing strays throughout the years. Both of the cats I have now were strays that had decided to claim mi casa as their casa…and they are both purebred Persians. (Seriously, what are the chances of that?) What’s even more interesting is they weren’t siblings, or even playmates, they came to us 7 years apart. I have had a few sick or injured animals appear as well. When I say appear, I’m not kidding. Despite my efforts, some of them recovered and some just didn’t make it. One of the more notable experiences was finding a 4 foot iguana in my garage. I opened the door to get the lawn mower, and there sprawled out on top of it was what appeared to be a mini dinosaur…staring at me. Huh? I couldn’t tell you how long I stood there rubbing my eyes and shaking my head before calling my kids out to confirm what I was seeing. This was one of the many situations that prompted some of my friends to start referring to me as Dr. Dolittle.

After determining he she it was friendly, we offered it some food and water. I sent the kids out to question the neighbors and I started making phone calls. About an  hour later, we loaded him her it into my car and headed to the mini dinosaur expert. It was in need of some medical attention, but was expected to make a full recovery. We went and visited “Mini D” a few times while it was recovering and were happy to find out that the mini dinosaur expert himself, had decided to adopt it. I love happy endings.

One of my favorite babies was Stella2. During nesting season we would end up with a variety of nests. I watched closely each year as the eggs were laid and hatched…naming each hatchling. Shocking, I know. (We had 4 finches hatch one year on the 4th of July. They were appropriately named: Ima, Yankee, Doodle and Dandy. Pretty clever huh?) A few years ago, we had 2 baby mockingbirds hatch right outside our back door, I had named them Stella and Stanley.

As I went to peak at them in the evening, I noticed that Stella was gone. We searched for her that night and then again in the morning…she was nowhere to be found. Stanley continued to thrive and oddly enough, stuck around for about 6 months (we moved, but he’s probably still there!) With his knock-knees, he was always easy to spot and could usually be found amongst a group of finches…with his mouth open. He so loved a free handout!

A few weeks later, my mom called and asked me to come over. Her and my dad had just returned from camping for a few weeks, obviously she had missed me, right? As I walked in grinning ear to ear, my mom came to the door to greet me. So this is what I remember…

“MOTHER what do you have?”
Noting I had called her MOTHER, she assures me, “It’s just a mockingbird”
“Who’s mockingbird is it?”
“It’s mine” she said in her proudest voice, “all mine.”
“No, it’s not yours. Where did you get it?”
(Alright~ so maybe that’s not exactly how it happened…)
They had found the baby mocker on the ground the day before. Thinking it had fallen, they returned it back to it’s nest, only to find it out again that evening. If a nestling is sick or deformed and the parents knows it has little chance to survive, they will get rid of it to make sure the food goes to the healthier ones. My mom knew the inevitable was bound to happen, but did not have the heart to leave it behind. (woot-I taught her well!!!) She brought her home to me  knowing I would be more than willing to keep her warm, comfortable and fed. I named her Stella2.

Having been through this before, I knew all I could do was hope for the best, prepare for the worst and let nature take it’s course. By the 2nd day, I started to wonder if this was my mom’s way of paying me back for grabbing me one of those free kittens. It didn’t seem like Stella2 was sick at all, as a matter of fact, Stella2 had more energy than Heidi. Since she wanted no part of being couped up, this is how we spent a lot of our time.

I really wish there was sound to hear her chirping.  

It was this same day I noticed something…Stella2 didn’t have tail feathers. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the reason she was booted from the nest, but was otherwise healthy. I looked online, everything I found said it was a “sign the bird was struggling to survive.” I then pulled up several pictures of other baby mockingbirds and compared them to Stella2. Although she did not look sick, there was a definite difference when I compared to a healthy baby. Poor Stella2, I hate sad endings. :(

She lived her short, little life to the fullest and did not have to die cold, hungry and alone. (*sniff* I still get teary eyed…) She was an absolute busy body joy and I wouldn’t have done a thing different. I’m so glad I have these videos!

So I have yet to encounter a bear, a kangaroo, a monkey or a elephant that needs my nurturing…but if I do, you can count on hearing about it! For now I’m content with my 2 cats, Filthy (don’t ask) & Oliver and my turtle, Kiwi.

By the way, did I mention my mom presented Kiwi to me and my kids in the midst of doing a 1,000 sq. foot addition to my house…on top of working 50+ hours a week? When I gave her that you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me look, she smiled and said, “I got it from a lady at work, they were free so I thought I’d grab you one.”
Gotta love karma!

Edited to add…then there was
Ace Ventura
Buena Ventura