The Animals Who Have Given Me Joy

Looking back, I have had many animals, all creatures of particular personalities who offered so much of themselves to make my life better. I want to pay tribute to that.

5/20/20242 min read

Dogs, cats and all kinds of animals have filled my life. I feel very privileged to have spent time with them and to learn so much about who they really are. They give of themselves so willingly and offer hours of entertainment and genuine fun.

I think back to when I lived in the West end of Vancouver and spent a lot of time as a volunteer at the Stanley Park Zoological Society and the Zoo there. They had a few love birds that just did not fit in with the rest and so needed to be separated. I offered to take them, two love birds who were so different and special.

One was subject to narcolepsy so frequently fell out of the sky and onto my carpet sound asleep. I had plant hangers with feeding stations in my living room in an old house with 14 foot ceilings. There were also plants up there they loved. The other was a motherly type and was always bugging the one with narcolepsy that I called Catnap. She was dubbed Tweetie Bird.

I also acquired an old cat, 22 years old, from my neighbour who had umpteen felines. He seemed to love my place and me so one day a bag of food and his goodies arrived at my back door with a note saying here is his pyjamas and other things for the cat and would I take him in since he chose me. I said yes.

He slept a lot which was fortunate since I had a bird falling out of the sky, often right next to where he slept on the couch. I would pet him and tell him it was all a nice dream and put Catnap back on his perch. This gave us a lot of laughs.

I was a tour guide at the Zoo and gave tours adapted for elementary school kids and the programs they were studying. While I was there, some thoughtless kids threw a cat into the pen with the polar bears. One was there to see it and dove into the water to get the cat. We feared the worst but he just gently picked it up and left it to dry on the concrete where keepers got it back. I swear that poplar bear winked at me.

They were known to play and had a sense of humour. Often when I would take the kids into the back side of the polar bear enclosure into their cave, we would stop for me to talk by the bars. A bear would come close and sit down. Then he would lunge at the bars and let out a roar scaring the kids. But his intent was to have fun, not to hurt anyone and I got a kick out of it.

While at the Zoo, I also ran a 'Zoo To You' program for shut ins which became quite a hit. We brought boa constrictors to visit seniors in nursing homes and senior centres. They would sit next to each other and hold the boa on the back of their necks and demand a photo be taken. It sure got them moving and brightened their day.

One man wanted us to bring a silky bantam to the retirement home. We did and that rooster sat on his shoes and looked lovingly at the old man who had been a farmer. They both communed silently and it was very touching. Who says animals do not communicate?