Here's Johnny - Killing Tinkerbell! – and other animal stories
Okay, the headline’s a bit misleading, but it got your attention, didn’t it? I don’t really want to kill Tinkerbell. In fact, whether animated or real-life (thank you, Julia Roberts), I think she’s lovely. It’s my cats that want to kill Tinkerbell. “Kill Tinkerbell” is my somewhat hyperbolic name for a game with my cats in which I’m armed with a laser pointer and them with their eyes, claws, and extraordinary reflexes. I do believe in magic, so I win every time, and Tinkerbell never meets her maker. I’m told that the game is good for cats; that, despite never being able to catch Tinkerbell, chasing her stimulates their bodies and minds and doesn’t leave them feeling hopeless. They do seem to enjoy it. Gotta get some new batteries. Tinkerbell’s getting hard to see. Bats When I lived at 112 North Main Street a decade ago in what was long ago the Woodford Hotel, I kept running into bats. The first, I nearly stepped on. I lived on the second floor, and one evening, I walked past the wheezing elevator and took the stairs. At the top, I saw something near my door that appeared to be a very large spider or worse. Then I crouched down to take a closer look, and realized it was a bat – very young, nearly hairless, with unopened eyes. Bats are mammals, so it was still nursing. I suspect it fell from a ceiling tile. I took it in my apartment, swaddled it in a t-shirt, set the t-shirt in a shoebox, and bought a desk lamp to keep it warm and an eye dropper with which to feed it. The next day, I took the pup (that’s the proper term for a baby bat) to work in Frankfort, hoping to find someone who could look after it. My former co-workers still talk about the nut who brought a baby bat to the office. And other things. I found a fellow who took the pup and got it to a certified bat handler in Louisville. A few months later, I was told that the pup was no longer a pup, and that after successful insect-catching test flights, it had been released in southern Indiana. Not long after, a young lady who lived in the same building came knocking on my door. She’d heard the bat story, and wanted Batman to get an adult bat out of her apartment. I managed to drape a towel over it without being bitten or injuring the unhappy creature, took it outside and it flew off. Raccoons I’ve always had a soft spot for raccoons and have had many encounters with them over the years, with none ending in blood spilled by either party. Knowing this, a friend contacted me a few years ago to say that she’d seen an ad on Craigslist in which someone was asking $75 for a baby raccoon. Knowing it might end up as pit bull practice, I contacted the seller and made an appointment. Before going over to the shady part of Lexington – I knew it to be so, because it was near my elementary and junior high schools – I did a little legal research. I learned it was illegal to keep or sell a raccoon unless you had permission from the state. I also learned it was illegal for me to buy a raccoon. Armed with printouts of state laws and having given my buddy Dave my whereabouts in case the raccoon salesman turned violent, I pulled up to the seller’s house. I explained the illegalities of the matter for all parties and told him I’d found a certified wildlife center in Scott County that would take the kit (that’s what baby raccoons are called). I also explained that while I didn’t have $75 dollars, I’d give him $40. No weapons were drawn and I took the kit off to Scott County. The lady who ran the place gave the terrified creature a couple of shots, then sat it inside a large glass cage. Inside was a cardboard box with a cut-out entrance and several other kits inside. “My” kit stiffened up, sniffed for a moment, then walked slowly inside the cardboard box. I talked to the wildlife doc for a moment and hung out with a large adult raccoon that lived there. When I slowly reached to scratch the side of his head, he gently pushed my hand aside, but seemed to enjoy the company. A few minutes later, as I began to leave, she looked inside the box where she’d put the kit. It was curled up with other orphaned babies, fast asleep. A few weeks ago, I was talking with Dave about such things and told him that a friend had once, not unkindly, wondered aloud whether I was better with animals than people. Dave said he thought I did just fine with most species, including humans. I told him perhaps there was something to the animals-over-people argument. Animals don’t do things out of meanness, for one thing. There’s a certain innocence to them possessed by few of their two-legged brothers and sisters. “People – well, I guess people just remind me of me,” I said.