Sounded tougher to the neighborhood cats

Sounded tougher to the neighborhood cats

Charlie the cat thought he was in charge at our house. In fact, he preferred that we call him “Chuck”, because it sounded tougher to the neighborhood cats. He tried very hard to be the center of attention as much as he could.

I remember bringing a new girlfriend over to the house and while we sat in the living room he walked along the kitchen counter knocking dishes onto the floor. He never seemed to do that unless a stranger was in the house.

He just looked at the new woman in the house and hissed at her. This was his house and he made it very clear. Chuck thought he was the biggest and baddest cat in the neighborhood.

His only competition was Kasey the Sheltie. She was Daddy’s girl. When I brought a stranger to the house, she would stand next to me and stare at the new person. As with most Shelties, she would run in circles to try and herd the people. If someone was too loud or rambunctious, she would nip at them.

At that time I was a State Game Warden and was stationed in a very busy district. It was one of those jobs that was more like a lifestyle than a mere job. I worked nearly every holiday and all weekends, so I was used to having my days off during the week.

On this particular day it was the middle of the week and I was relaxing at home. As I sat in my recliner, the telephone rang. I answered and it was the sheriff’s department dispatcher. She told me that someone had found an injured owl and didn’t know what to do with it. I told her I would handle it and got the address.

Owls are protected by both state and federal law. They are very important members of our ecosystem and really cool animals, so I didn’t mind being interrupted on my day off.

Since the animals are protected by law, it is unlawful for members of the public to possess them. Besides, most folks have no idea how to care for an injured bird such as an owl. The state, therefore, has licensed wildlife rehabilitators who we could take injured animals to. The rehabilitator could care for the animal until it could, hopefully, be released back into the wild.

I scrounged around the bedroom, found my uniform, and dressed out for the trip to get the owl.

As I got ready to leave, it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have anything handy to put a large owl into. The bird was supposed to be a great horned owl which can be rather large.

I didn’t have a pet carrier that was tall enough for a large owl and I couldn’t find a box that would work either. In my frustration I began stomping around the house trying to find anything that would work. As I walked down the hallway, I glanced in the utility room. Sitting next to the washer was a tall blue plastic hamper for keeping dirty clothes in.

Of Course! This seemed to be the answer. It was plastic and therefore washable. It also had slots for good ventilation on the sides and was deep enough for a large owl to stand in. I dumped the dirty clothes on the floor of the utility room and ran out the door. If anyone asked, I would claim it was a highly specialized piece of wildlife equipment.

I got in my state truck and radioed the dispatcher to get the address again. I had forgotten to write it down when she called me. After getting the address again and writing it down this time, I took off on the 30 minute drive to the place where the owl was being held.

It was late in the afternoon when I got to the house in the country. The people told me that they had been out walking and had found him in the ditch. They said he appeared stunned and didn’t seem able to fly. They had put him in their garage because they didn’t know what else to do. Come to think of it, I never did ask them how they got him in the garage. I could just imagine them running across the yard chasing the owl yelling “Here owl”, “Here Owl”.

I told them not to worry because I had my wildlife capture equipment with me in the truck. I went to the truck and got the dirty clothes hamper out. It was at that point I realized that I forgot a critical piece of equipment: The Lid.

I searched the truck for something to put over the top and all I could come up with was a coat. The people then let me into the garage. There were windows, but it was still dark in several places.

The interesting thing about owls is that when they are stressed and not out in the woods, they don’t hoot. They use their large beaks to make a loud clicking sound. The closest thing I can think of is when you snap your tongue on the roof of your mouth.