This column is for the bears and birds and nature lovers

I am a real softie when it comes to nature’s pen of critters, which of course includes animals, birds, bugs and whatever. Over the years, just like most of you, we had lots of pets roaming around our house and it was a sad day when we lost one of them, even the spotted salamander, the psychotic budgie and the hamster that ate my socks.

I am a real softie when it comes to nature’s pen of critters, which of course includes animals, birds, bugs and whatever. Over the years, just like most of you, we had lots of pets roaming around our house and it was a sad day when we lost one of them, even the spotted salamander, the psychotic budgie and the hamster that ate my socks.

Of course we were all taught to be careful or stay away from those creatures that might bite, sting, spit, scratch, kick and just plain don’t like the human invasion. On the other hand it is great when your pet becomes a companion that you can ride, cuddle, pamper, love, share and play with forever, no matter what. Although they can become a bit of a pain until you get them through the messy training period, the nibbled slippers, and the jealousy; but once they settle into the family home they have become a loyal buddy for life.

The ultimatum of most parents on this issue, “if you want a pet, you will look after it, or we will give it away to the boogieman”. Whatever our pet might be, we must always remember that they thrive on exercise, treats, chew toys, the right food, a soft place to snooze when the house it quiet and a little pampering and TLC when we come home.

Farewell to Ali-Oop

It was sad to hear of the recent death of Ali-Oop, the old Kodiak bear at the Alberta Wildlife Park near Innisfail. Then again, this gentle giant lived a great life to the ripe old age of 27 bear years, which is about 80 of ours.

Over his active years the talented Ali-Oop was a movie star in such films as Dr. Doolittle 2, Wild America, The Last Trapper, Truehart and numerous television commercials and appearances. Upon his retirement the rambunctious bruin enjoyed a leisurely life at the Innisfail facility, thrilling visitors and occasionally planting a mushy kiss. Hopefully they will erect a monument in ‘Oop’s” fond memory.

A true story about the wonders of nature

Something really amazing happened in downtown Spokane this week and I had to share the story with you. The delightful tale was told by a gentleman whose brother Joel was a loan officer at the Sterling Bank working downtown in a second story office building overlooking busy Riverside Avenue.

Several weeks ago Joel watched as a mother duck chose the cement awning outside his window as the uncanny place to build a nest high above the sidewalk. Shortly after the mallard laid nine eggs in a nest in the corner of a planter that was precariously perched ten feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks, and on a Monday afternoon her nine fuzzy ducklings hatched into the new world. He worried all night as to how that momma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in that busy downtown, urban environment to take to the water, which is supposed to happen in the first 48 hours of their birth.

Tuesday morning a tired Joel came to work and watched the mother encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off. The mother then flew down below and started quacking to her babies above, and in his disbelief Joel watched as the first tiny newborn toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below. He could not longer wait to see how this was going to play out so Joel dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs to the sidewalk below where the first obedient duckling was shaken and stuporing near its mother after a near fatal plunge.

Joel looked up, and the second duckling was ready to jump. He quickly dodged under the awning while the mother duck quacked at him and the babies above. As the second one took the leap of faith Joel jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the cement. Safe and sound, he set it by the mother and the other stunned sibling, then one by one as the babies continued to jump to join their anxious family below he reached out just in the nick of time to catch each duckling in their free fall.

At this point Joel realized that the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had two full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs, and pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the Spokane River. The onlooking office secretaries then joined in, and hurriedly brought out an empty copy paper box to collect the babies, and with the mother’s approval loaded them into the box low enough for her to see her precious brood. Joel then slowly navigated through the downtown streets towards the river with the mother waddling behind, and all being watched and cheered by hundreds of spectators. As they finally reached the river the mother took over and passed him, jumping into the water and quacking loudly. At the water’s edge, the Sterling Bank office staff then carefully tipped the box and helped sheppard the babies toward the water towards their mother. All nine darling ducklings safely made it into the water and paddled up to snuggle to mom, who proudly swam in circles, then headed off down river to many new adventures. Have a great week, all of you.

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