Yes, I am a bleeding heart.

CoCo story

For as long as I can remember, I have had a soft spot in my heart for animals.  It was more than just a childish love of the family pets who came in and out of my life.  When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the response was always “ a veterinarian” having enjoyed the novel and movie versions of “The Red Pony”, “Old Yeller”, “Rascal” and “The Incredible Journey”.  As I got older, I enjoyed the collection of animal tales by British country vet James Herriot, and I figure his adventures are really what clinched the idea of that vocation.

My parents said they’d fund college for me to be a veterinarian and I was ecstatic; too bad my grades in math and science were not stellar and I had to abandon that dream.  My mom would later tell me they never believed I would have the heart to attend to animals that were sick, or in pain, as I was too much of a “softie” or a “bleeding heart”.

Since I had no siblings, and, because my parents believed that every child should have a dog, when I was three years old, Fritzy, a beautiful German Shepherd, came to live at 497 Sandmere Place.  My father’s co-worker raised German Shepherds, and one day my dad came home from work with a new puppy.   He became my oversized playmate.

Fritzy1

Fritzy0

As the months passed, this little girl and her big dog romped around the yard with endless energy.

Fritzy2.jpg

But Fritzy started having difficulty getting up and down the stairs, and a trip to the vet verified that he had developed hip dysplasia, a common malady for large dogs.  The diagnosis was dire because it would worsen with age, so my parents had Fritzy euthanized.  That was my first experience coping with loss and I was devastated.

My parents promised we would wait awhile then get another dog next year for my birthday, so as that day neared, off we went to the breeder at Wag-a-Way Kennels, where we got a beautiful blonde Cocker Spaniel, that we named Co-Co, and, who is the subject of my first grade drawing you see above.

CoCo 0.jpg

CoCo1.jpg

Co-Co did not last long in the Schaub household, because, even after obedience training, he would not ask for the door to go out, resulting in piddle puddles all through the house, especially on the carpeting.  My mom, who was already frustrated with the fact that Co-Co’s long, silky ears dragged into his water and dog food bowls, (so the contents were tracked everywhere), was not too pleased with Co-Co and he spent many hours clipped to the clothesline on a long lead in the backyard while she cleaned his ever-present messes.  Mom finally put her foot down and Co-Co was given away.

Fast forward a couple of years.  Thinking the third time may be the charm when it came to pets, our next dog was a black poodle named Peppy.

Peppy.jpg

He was not like most poodles, because he was wiry and wild-acting, and liked to dig holes in the backyard.  One day he dug a hole under the fence and escaped.  Our subdivision was plagued by a pack of wild dogs that ran together and someone put out raw meat spiked with rat poison to kill them, and Peppy got hold of some.  While I was at school, he came home foaming at the mouth.  My mom rarely, if ever, called my dad at work, but she called and said he had to come home and take Peppy to the vet to be put down before I got home from school.

That was 1965, and I was nine years old.  That evening, my parents sat me down, explained about Peppy’s fate, and I was told there would be no more dogs at our house, and, after I moved out on my own, my parents would buy me a dog as a housewarming present.

Alas, we were a “petless” family once again.  To fill the void, we got a parakeet.  Skippy was full of personality, and the first of many pet birds which would fill our house with joy, whether it was their playful antics, talking a blue streak, or, in the case of our canaries, beautiful singing.

Skippy.JPG

After Skippy’s arrival, I developed a lifelong affinity for birds.

I catered to the birds in the backyard for years.  There were multiple feeders, plus treats, and in the warm months I put out four birdbaths, to accommodate every size bird that visited.  They’d wait for me every morning, all year long, as I loaded up the feeders, or put out seed blocks.

garden

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garden3

 

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In the Summer months, with the backyard garden, it was like a paradise.

And then came the rats … and it was paradise lost.

A new neighbor moved in behind us in the Fall of 2007.  He bought a pit bull and left it outside 24/7, even in Winter.  He fed it table scraps and by the Summer of 2008, there were rats in our backyard.  We had to call in an exterminator to bait traps, so feeding the birds was discouraged.  Likewise, no more setting out birdbaths because the rats eat the poison and it dries their insides, so they seek a water source, and a birdbath would be ideal for them.  I watched every morning as my feathered friends lined up along the chain link fence, wondering why I no longer catered to them.  Where were their treats, their water?  It made me sad and I could not bear to look at them.

My neighbor Marge, also afflicted with rats, discontinued her feeding and birdbaths as well, but finally resumed only a few years ago, as she felt badly for the birds and missed their activity as she sat out on her backyard deck all Summer.  But I never returned to my ritual, having seen a few too many bloated rat bodies in the backyard.  I felt ill by their presence, knowing how they destroyed my paradise – I did not wish to go through that horror again.  Instead, I got my “bird fix” by watching Marge’s deck activity, or during my walks in the Park.

Since I appreciate my feathered friends, just like many of you, I’ve enjoyed the daily reports my friend Evelyn sent me about the robins.  I felt like “Aunt Linda” watching Evelyn’s little family from afar, and, I was thoroughly intrigued by the whole process, watching those baby robins growing from naked, scrawny hatchlings into cute chicks.

But sadly, now the nest is empty.

I wish I could say that on their 10th day after hatching, they fledged and went off to explore the world.  But, instead it is with sadness that I tell you that a predator got to the robin chicks yesterday.

Shortly after Evelyn sent me my daily photo of the trio, (pictured below), she noticed a 4-5 foot black snake lurking around her porch and took a photo to send to me.

SNAKE.jpg

She has sent me photos of black snakes in the past when she found them sunning themselves, stretched out along the porch railing.  She has been fearless about those snakes and simply moved them to another location.  I, however, shuddered at those photos, having never encountered a snake in my life.

Evelyn reached down and grabbed that black snake and threw it over the back fence and went inside the house.

A short time later, she heard a commotion – a lot of squawking, so she rushed outside.  She saw the snake and it had a chick in its mouth.  The male and female robins were swooping and diving, in an effort to drive the snake away from the nest, but the snake was not fazed at all.  So Evelyn grabbed that snake and it dropped the chick, which was already dead.  There was only one chick remaining in the nest at that time.

Adrenalin set in and Evelyn had the presence of mind to grab a garden rake and she wrangled the snake away from the nest.  She wasted no time in snagging that snake and then dropped it into a large nearby empty flower pot and covered the pot with a piece of glass.  She marched to the end of the street to deposit the snake into a wooded area, then returned home and called the Wildlife Center to see if 100 yards was far enough away for the snake to lose scent of the babies.  She left a voicemail to that effect, then went back outside the house only to find the remaining chick gone from the nest.

Evelyn sent an e-mail to tell me what happened, then agonized over the death of the three chicks throughout the afternoon.  The woman at the Wildlife Center finally called back.  She was amazed Evelyn had dealt with the snake in a humane manner, and, suggested that even though the chicks could not fly, that perhaps the parents encouraged both chicks to jump into a nearby bush for shelter.  Buoyed by that more-pleasant scenario on the chicks’ fate, Evelyn hasn’t yet peered into the bush, but we hope that our family of feathered friends has sought refuge there.

In their last photos, they really were starting to look more like robins, and, if you remember, they would have been ready to leave the nest at only 13 days old, or by week’s end.

13TH

05/13/18

14TH

05/14/18

Evelyn tells me she’ll likely take down the nest to thwart any robins from future nest-building activities and to not invite another predator gaining access to any baby robins.

Meanwhile, we delighted in the experience.  Sometimes it is the little things in life that make us smile and not frown.  With daily horrible headlines screaming out at us on social media and the news, sometimes we need a glimpse of nature to balance out the bad stuff.  Nature is wonderful most of the time; sometimes not so much, as evidenced  as this tale unfolded.

Tomorrow I hope to venture out on a walk to my favorite nature nook.  The weatherman reports that we’ve had over 5 inches of rain since last Friday.  It has rained every day for the past 7 days, and 11 of the first 15 days this month.  We sure are overdue for some sun and a little warmer temps.

 

About lindasschaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, and this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for over three decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, although I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too.
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33 Responses to Yes, I am a bleeding heart.

  1. I can’t believe you still have a paper from first grade! Marvelous!

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      Anne – on the back were some more ramblings about Fritzy and also Co-Co, and, when I flipped the paper over, the green from the grass showed through and did not scan well. I was just mentioning this paper from first grade to AJ the other day when she mentioned her students creating Mother’s Day artwork. I asked her if she saw Sunday’s Google Doodle of the child’s drawing and hand prints and she said she did – I said I had a childhood drawing from 1st grade as well – I wonder if her first graders’ parents will preserve their artwork too?

      Like

  2. Ann Marie stevens says:

    Miss Linda……………………….thank you for the Robin story………………….I can’t help thinking how brave Miss Evelyn is on picking up these snakes and hauling them off somewhere else…………….I wouldn’t want to go near them in any way

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      It is a sad story Ann Marie – I couldn’t help myself, thinking about those little guys all day yesterday and it carried over into this morning … lives snuffed out so quickly and all of us following along on their progress. Then I thought about some of my pets lost through the years … if not for all the mishaps with dogs, our family may never have thought about getting a pet bird, and look at all the joy that Skippy, Joey, Sugar and Buddy brought … so I gave all that some thought and spun out this blog post as a result. I don’t have to tell you about the joy of pet birds – you have had yours as well.

      I think it was brave of Evelyn to pick up the snake and haul it off down the street. She dealt with it twice – first in the backyard, then it came back. I can’t imagine and I would have screamed bloody murder, or had to run for help. I’d have backed off at any rate – I can assure you about that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is sad! Aww poor babies. And how sad you cant feed the birds anymore!
    My main childhood dog was part German shepherd and she eventually was put down due to health issues… my poor mom had to do it alone 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      I felt so bad yesterday and thought about those babies throughout the day. I loved feeding the birds, but the idea of finding rats in the yard again stopped me. That dog is gone and I’ve not seen rats in a while, so I stopped the bait service. I was embarrassed one time when the HVAC guy came for a regular A/C tuneup and he came into the house and asked me for a few bags as he wanted to dispose of a dead rat by the A/C unit.

      I think German Shepherds and other large dogs are susceptible to hip dysplasia. It is sad to have to euthanize any animal. When my canary Buddy had a stroke in December 2016, I had to have him put down and I said after that, there would never be another pet brought into this house – it is sad and it is a loss as keen as losing a family member. I feel for your mom.

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      • Oh man yeah I wouldn’t miss the rats. That’s not pleasant. And I know, I think it was hard on her 😦

        Liked by 2 people

      • lindasschaub says:

        That’s what kept me from feeding the birds again – my neighbor was brave about it, but … our houses are in close proximity to one another … she was not as bothered by the idea of rats as I was. She passed away last August and her son lives there now – he does not feed the birds, but there is a birdbath or two still out there – I gave her mine which were in the garage after I was told not to water the birds. It is hard to lose an animal – I won’t have any more pets, just too upsetting to let them go.

        Like

      • lindasschaub says:

        Yup, I don’t want that – I hated going out in the yard and I was afraid to see them, dead or alive. The pest control service would not retrieve the dead rats, and one time a rat ate poison but did not die and was alive in the back yard, hiding in the grass and I had to call the City Animal Control. It was horrible and don’t want to go through that again.

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      • I don’t blame you!

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Nature can be and often appears crule. Sad loss

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      Yes, it is Andy. I prefer to be like Evelyn and take a glass half-full attitude … maybe the other two chicks survived and are biding time until they can fly in the safety of the bush.

      Like

  5. susieshy45 says:

    Linda
    I was touched by your story. It showed me the that there is hope for human beings still as long as there are people like Evelyn and you in the world. Taking care of a snake ? Good grief. Full kudos to her. The robins- well – very sad but I believe that as long as you or Evelyn did your part in keeping them safe, it was a good life. We couldn’t have done any more.
    In my place, its the stray cats- I feed and look after all the stray cats in the compound and their kittens and one fine day, they are dead- lost to a poisoner or a male cat or to a human who wants them for his own( this is a happy story in my dictionary, though I miss them when they are gone).
    We can only do what we can do. I believe in the creator so I know He knows what is best so I trust in his judgement when these sad incidents happen and know in my heart that I meant well and He knows it( I believe the same for you and Evelyn)- will you give her a hug from me ?
    Susie

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thank you for your kind words Susie. I felt sad through the day after Evelyn told me and I will tell you that we had a bad West Nile virus outbreak in the mid-80s and we had many blue jays and cardinals in our neighborhood, more around my yard as I fed them.

      We went to Toronto to visit my grandmother once and after a long holiday away I came home and went into the yard to put out food for the birds and water the flowers and discovered many dead birds in the yard. Big beautiful birds, all scattered around.

      I knew it was not a predator because their bodies were not marred and they had not been dead long and I called the DNR as we had been told all Summer on the news, about West Nile virus and to contact them about any dead birds that we might find. I could have mentioned that story, but did not as the post already was a little morbid.

      My friend who lives in New York tends to feral cats. She has three of her cats who never go outside the house, but she has a big deck and in the Winter she provides shelter boxes with straw and heated pads, plus heated dishes for their food and water. She feeds and gives them water all year round, and traps them for a feral cat rescue organization where they give them shots and attempt to home them. Carol has raised countless litters of feral kittens through the years and agonizes when something happens to one of them, and, she worries in the dead of Winter that they will know to seek shelter that she has provided to them.

      Our hearts are good and should remain willing to help out the less fortunate than ourselves, be they man or beast.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. lindasschaub says:

    Susie – here is a post I wrote about my friend Carol a few years ago … the neighbors know about how she takes care of the ferals, so they dropped a kitten off at her house, knowing she would take care of it …https://lindaschaubblog.net/2014/11/18/kitten-caboodle/

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  7. John says:

    What a great memory from your childhood.😊 Dogs are family members and is so nice to have. I had a dog, mixed German shepherd/Tervueren. When I moved to Kristianstad for my rehabilitation center herniated disc. But unfortunately, I had to give him away because I was not home for many hours every day. I never went with him on a leash, (had it course with me), he was so kind and obey me. He never barked on any other dogs or people and loved to play. Can´t your friend make the bird nest “snake proof”? But that very beautiful snake is sure a master to climb and I’m sure it´s a no poison snake, it have round eye pupils. Sure it´s sad when a raptor take a chick you know, but it´s the nature, eat and be eaten. In southern United States, most in Florida, they have major problems with pythons from other countries that people released into nature. They have no enemies and are eradicating certain native species. There are people who work to catch the snakes, but only a few they are able to catch and they grow up very fast. The “worst” is the African rock python, both large, around 15 feet and very aggressive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      John – I wish I had my dogs for longer and that is a regret, as I know people who have their dog’s companionship for many years and they sure are like a member of the family. It is too bad that you had to leave your dog behind – that would be sad as well. I asked Evelyn if she was going to take down the nest and she thinks she will do that as she is worried about another snake becoming a predator to the babies. She has found the same type of snake in the past, which makes her think it will happen again. She lives in the city, not a rural area, so that shocks me that such a large snake would be in the middle of the city, even if it was not poisonous. I’ve never seen them around here, but maybe I’m not going far enough into the woods and that’s why … hmm, maybe I’d better rethink those small trips to the state parks I was planning to take this Summer. I got a recreation pass to gain access to some of the larger woodsy nature parks to see some deer and owls and maybe fox. The idea of killer snakes is scary. In the newspaper or on the news every so often you hear a story about people that get boa constrictors or pythons and then find they are too large to handle and they let them loose. I understand from someone who walks at Council Point Park, that he was at the Park one morning and the animal control officer came there because someone reported a large snake there and it was at large in the Park. He didn’t know if they caught the snake as he had to leave to get to work.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Such cute pictures of you with the dogs! We have two (and a lot of aquarium fish, shrimp, and two parrots). They are all like family! 🙂
    Sorry about the fledglings. Snakes have to eat too but it’s unfortunate that it involves such beautiful young creatures. Nature can be harsh at times. However, as you say, nature is wonderful most of the time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Tom – as an only child, it seems the camera was always out … I scanned in all my photo albums and scrap albums over last Thanksgiving, but most of the photos are as yet “untweaked” … some pages have as many as eight images on one page, others I had to scan sideways to get a shot and still managed to cut some of the image off. To properly digitize all these images might be something I want to wait until retirement for. 🙂 But I am enjoying looking at them because my house is small and the albums were in the bottom of a closet and I rarely looked at them. I especially like the black and white images … my mom always had her Baby Brownie camera handy.

      I think dogs were not made for our family, however, my aunt and grandmother lived together and had a dog for years,and she trained him quickly as a puppy. He was a perfect pet, but we were just not lucky with dogs, but as to birds … very lucky and they were a joy to have in the house.

      I felt badly when I heard about the robin chicks, but, I’ll be like my friend and hold out a glimmer of hope that the parents were able to move the chicks into the safety of the bush near the nest and hopefully the snake had turned his head the other way. Nature is indeed cruel sometimes … sometimes it is better not to know what happens out there in the wild.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, nature can be extremely cruel. That’s why, sometimes, it makes me shudder when so many say that they want to be close to nature, or that going to nature is the way. I (all too well) understand what they mean but, like was mentioned, nature can be extremely cruel. We can go deeper than nature, deeper than the cruelty, and therein lies the magic! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • lindasschaub says:

        Tom – you and another photographer, John Jonasson, both made the valid point that the snake has to eat too. John is a photographer in Sweden and often features grass snakes in his blog posts. He finds a nest of them, picks them up, takes photos of them, and even rescued one a few weeks ago because it had a broken spine and the back part of it could not slither. He took it home, then realized there was no hope for its problem, so took it to the vet to have it euthanized. I do have to agree and see beyond it the cruelty and remember “survival of the fittest” that I learned a long time ago. I must say I am glad I did not witness the incident firsthand. Seeing the red-wing blackbird attack the robin sitting on her nest was upsetting enough for me. The magic of nature is astounding … love the babies and the fierce protective instinct of the parents (sometimes sadly not even found in human parents) and the animals that mate for life (also more loyalty than we often, not always, find in humans).

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  9. Uncle Tree says:

    Hey, Linda! If you were trying to cheer us up, guess what? LoL
    It didn’t work. Loss, loss, loss, and only the snake came out a winner.

    Your early artwork and handwriting made me smile, though. 🙂 Too cute!

    Liked by 3 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      I know Uncle Tree – I was trying to think of a nice way to break it to everyone gently since the facts of the story were really not very pretty were they?

      It’s nice to think that maybe the two babies made it to the big bush … glass half-full attitude there, and hopefully that is the case.

      Glad you liked the artwork … my mom never displayed my early artwork, but did save this one in a scrapbook On the reverse side was more of the Co-Co story and some about Fritzy as well, but that side didn’t scan too well. I like to see kid’s drawings and their perception too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Even though nature can be cruel I find much more joy in nature. I have a small fish pond and have watched Egrets and Blue Heron enjoy themselves to my 7 year old fish. I still have 21 fish left (from 100) but now I cover the pond with a deer net to keep them alive…lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      Oh, those wily Egrets and Blue Heron knew they had a good thing going. Glad you put that netting up to thwart them. People commented on this blog post that it is the law of nature and the snake has to eat too … I am just glad I did not witness it. Today, I was coming back from my walk and happened to look up high on a persons gutter and saw a robin’s nest with babies peeking out. They would have been right about the size of the ones who had the terrible fate this past Monday. I zoomed in and took some photos and hopefully they came out okay and will use them in a future blog. I thought it was strange as I pass that house and that nest every day and never noticed it – something made me look up and see those baby robins. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ellie P. says:

    This was a very enjoyable read, Linda! Reminded me of my own experiences (both sad and joyous) with my childhood pets. BTW I see now how you truly share your bird-love with Anne Mehrling!

    Liked by 2 people

    • lindasschaub says:

      Thanks Ellie – my childhood dog experiences were not good and I decided when I got older that I would enjoy dogs at other’s homes, but not here.

      But the birds … that was a different story. We had a parakeet we got in 1975 and he got a pancreatic tumor in 1983. He died in my mom’s hands while giving him medicine. We were devastated and vowed to never get another bird again. Our canary we got in 2006 was from my neighbor – we took care of him while she visited her mom in Arizona for three weeks. We spoiled him silly. She only had him a few weeks before vacation, and when he went back to her house after her return, he moped around, wouldn’t sing and she brought him over for us to keep for good. But I lost him right after my mom passed away and I got Buddy – it was just before Christmas. Then he had a stroke in December 2016 and I had him euthanized … no more pets for me – EVER. Too sad and heartbreaking.

      I do love birds and loved catering to them outside. I was horrified when we got rats and the backyard has absolutely no appeal to me now. I go there as little as possible. I love reading Anne’s “bird-on-the-deck” stories!

      Liked by 1 person

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