Friday, January 4, 2008

A Few Good Men

Hi Folks!

Thanks for stopping by! As you already know, this blog is mainly about animals. But every now and then, I come across an animal-lover worthy of recognition, and Kelly's Critter Talk seems like a good place to give them their due. Today I want to tell you about two guys who help make the world a better place for animals in general, and for my gang of ducks in particular. In the interest of keeping them out of trouble with their bosses, I'm not going to mention their last names. They know who they are, though, and when I'm finished, so will you!

The first guy I want to mention is Jon. He's the Director of Important Things here in Whoville. I'm not sure what his job entails, but it seems to give him enough authority to decide whether to keep the fountain at McKinnon's Pond running through the winter. In years past, the pond froze sometime in December and stayed that way until spring. I don't remember whether there were Domestic ducks on the pond, then, or if so, how they managed. What I do know is that for the past few years, it's been Jon who's kept the fountain working, providing the ducks with a much-needed open area of water in which to bathe, drink, and escape predators.

From what I've gathered in my research about the ducks, water is a vital component of their diet. It seems that they especially need water to wash down their food - and nowhere is that more important than when they're eating dry, powdery cracked corn. I don't know whether Jon knows this about the ducks, or whether he just likes having them around - whatever the case, he does more for their survival every winter than just about anyone. That's a little-known and unremarked part of what he does for Whoville, which is why I've tried to thank him in a discreet, no-need-for-the-boss-to-know kind of way.

The information that Jon was a fan of the ducks came to me by way of Officer Jeff, who is the Animal Control Officer for the Whoville Police Department. I imagine that most Whovillians think that Officer Jeff's job is all about trapping that pesky raccoon that's taken up residence under their porch, but Jeff does a lot more than that, and he does it with heart.

Officer Jeff and his wife have raised any number of orphaned mallard ducklings in the family swimming pool, and, when Jeff was recently given a brand-new Animal Control truck to do his crittering in, he alone recognized the inherent problem of having a black vehicle with no air conditioning in the back. When he voiced his concern about it, the Chief of Whoville Police told him to go buy a nice seat cover for the (air conditioned) cab - which is where Jeff will be housing those pesky raccoons during transport on hot summer days!

It was Officer Jeff who first noticed that there was a duck lady (me) hanging around and making friends with those flightless ducks at McKinnon's Pond. Having done his homework, and knowing that those ducks multiply astronomically, Jeff approached me about doing some population control. Last spring, after he showed me where to look for nests, I spent over three months picking up eggs five days a week.

The effort paid off: with the exception of the dumped-by-his-humans Puddleduck, the Domestic duck population remained stable for the first time ever. Officer Jeff was exceedingly pleased, which puts my gang of ducks in a better position to comfortably live out their lives at the pond: as long as the numbers are manageable, then apparently, there are those with some influence in Whoville who are willing to help manage them.

It must be noted that neither one of these men is required to do what they do for the ducks. The City of Whoville is in no way responsible for those abandoned animals, and, indeed, it's actually Officer Jeff's job to catch and have euthanized that very sort of unwanted, unadoptable critter. In Jon's case, it would no doubt be much easier - and less costly - to turn the fountain off between October and May. I have no idea what motivates either man. Given the flavor of my conversations with Jeff, though, I sense that he's a man who experiences a genuinely innocent child-like joy around animals.

I can't thank either Jon or Jeff enough for what they do - and allow me to do - for the Whoville ducks. It may be a small matter to Jon to leave that fountain on through the winter, but it's life and death for the ducks. And the fact that Jeff believes the ducks are good for the health of McKinnon's Pond tells me that he has indeed done his homework, and found good reasons (and good arguments, should he need them!) for keeping the ducks around. May the Gods smile on both men, and their families, for the good deeds they're doing for animals in need.

That's all for now folks! Until next time, please be kind to all the critters!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My Favorite Things

Hi Folks!

Thanks for joining me again. Happy New Year!

Every year around Christmas time, I look forward to watching that sappy, soppy, sentimental favorite, The Sound of Music. Every year the movie seems hokier than the year before, but I tune in anyway, and invariably tear up at some point in the proceedings. This season, though, I never saw any promotional ads on t.v. And, when Christmas came and went without a von Trapp in sight, I assumed I had missed my once-a-year treat.

So as I channel-surfed two nights ago, you can imagine my surprise when I found the movie playing on a local station. Yay! But then I did some mental figuring and concluded that they'd already shown the best part of the whole three-hour movie. Rats! I don't sit through all that doe-a-deer stuff for nothing!

Realizing that my one opportunity for the year had been blown, and feeling mildly bummed about it, I began making up lyrics in my head. I do this sometimes, to amuse myself. And I liked the result enough to want to share it with you now, on this first day of a new year full of adventures and possibilities. So with sincere appologies to Oscar Hammerstein, I submit the following for your approval:

Saddles on horses and whiskers on kittens,
huge bags of chocolate and warm woollen mittens.
Big ducks that quack til it makes my ears ring,
these are a few of my favorite things.

Folks, the moral of the story is that if the song doesn't work for you the way it's written, then write your own song. Take a risk. Put your heart on the line. Live dangerously - or at least, more fully. Stop waiting for someone to drop a life in your lap and go out and get one! Smile more, and bitch less. Make someone laugh. Be kind. Say yes.

That's all for now, folks. Until next time, please be kind to all the critters.