And The Zoo Settles In


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L’il Sis arrived today for a few days. She had apparently left hubby behind with the cat  (not clear who’s in charge) and filled up the car with favored pets instead. It’s all about priorities.

I knew Groucho (the Dominican rescue hound) and Vera the fantailed pigeon were coming, but it seems that, somehow, L’il Sis had neglected to tell me that she had managed to add to her already considerable menagerie. I did not know about the second dog in her care, a miniature dachshund name Pola.

I was awakened from my nap by the ruckus at the front door. I find that having a nap is the surest way to guarantee that my children will arrive in a timely fashion. (It works especially well with Crazy D, but L’il Sis is fast catching up to Crazy D’s lead in the tardy department.) I don’t blame L’il Sis for arriving later than expected since she had a lot to do just to get here — what with renting a car, packing it with all the pets, and driving from Toronto. Pets rarely operate as per schedule.To expect a definite arrival time was foolhardy. I had just nodded off, with my clothes nearby in case I had to dress quickly, and presto! Here she was. Works every time.

First L’il Sis ushered Groucho through the door. He headed promptly for Grandma’s kitchen, leash following behind, lashing furniture as he sped past, for the treats he knew were awaiting him. L’is Sis closed the door and returned to the car– next bringing in the tiny dog in its traveling case. The dog had spent Christmas with us and was somewhat familiar with the house…and she definitely knew which room housed the pet birds. She tore upstairs (after a little trepidation as to whether her short legs could make the Everest-like climb) and halted right outside the bird room door to whimper. Then she began sniffing. Then the paws went up and she began scratching the door to be let in. She is, by nature, a hunter. The bird room has become, in the past days, something of a ‘maternity ward’ since one of the canaries seems to be attempting to produce an egg. It is unfertilized (please, we’re nor running THAT kind of establishment!) but there is a telltale bump under her tail. And she’s panting just like a woman in labor. She sits in her seed dish, the only thing available for a ‘nest’. The last thing she needs is a yappy dog jumping at her, barking, and scaring her. Although on second thought, it might scare the egg out of her and we’d all be happier. At any rate, I was not about to take a chance. I’ve seen too many smashed eggs and a collapsed bird ‘uterus’.

By the time the entourage had finished its dramatic entrance, L’il Sis collapsed in a heap and announced:”I’m exhausted! I need a nap.”

“Take my bed…it’s still warm from my aborted nap!”

“Oh, Mom. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. We got a late start. I had to go way downtown to get the rental car. They had the cheapest one I could find.” I glanced out at the car and it was a Buick ‘land boat’, one of those huge relics from a bygone era that was basically held together with duct tape. It lay in either the ‘you get what you pay for’ category or the ‘cheap and not so cheerful’ pile.

She continued:”And then I drove the car to my apartment and loaded the pets. I had to go up and down the five floors multiple times , one pet at a time. And the car doesn’t have automatic locks so I had to unlock each separate lock with a key. So there I was, standing with the car door open on one of the busiest streets in Toronto, door sticking out in traffic, trying to ‘woman handle’ squirmy dogs…and the pigeon in her milk crate! I tell you, we were a three-ring circus without the elephants.”

Gill and I chimed in:”You’re SURE about the no elephant thing? ‘Cause we wouldn’t be shocked!”

When Gill saw the menagerie, she pointed out with trepidation:”We’re outnumbered by the pets…this is a bad ratio. Things could take a turn.” In an aside to me, Gill whispered:”Why does she have so many pets? Her apartment is small!” Then again. nobody here should judge the other’s pet addiction…we’ve all been there!

When we lifted the towel from Vera’s (the pigeon’s) milk crate, Gill instantly fell in love with the bird. I swear, if she were a Victorian lady, she’d have swooned right in front of the fluffy white creature. It was decided, in the interests of SOME element of hygiene, to keep Vera sequestered in the kids’upstairs bathroom. She can’t fly (and is so clumsy she can barely stand effectively). She could wander the floor safely and not damage the washable floor. She would be contained so she couldn’t wander the house dropping feathers and poop everywhere.Periodically, we humans would pop our heads in to check on her and say hello. She loves attention and showed her appreciation by cooing , fanning her tail out to its full magnificence, and hopping. Yes, Vera the pigeon hops on command!

During the week, our menagerie grew when our across-the-street neighbors, in the throes of moving to the U.S., parked both the child and large chocolate lab here to relieve the stress factor on them. When we were at full capacity, pet wise and people wise (the neighbors virtually lived here for a couple of days), I couldn’t help thinking of the Matt Damon movie, “We Bought A Zoo”. With sometimes three dogs (small, medium and large), a fantailed pigeon, six canaries(including the nesting one) and Mrs. Beeton (the pink parakeet), I think I should apply for zoo accreditation. I would then call my house “Laurie’s Folly”. I would then charge an admittance fee…except it might scare people. Sometimes it scares me…