Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Five

For this Friday Five, share with us a wild animal story from your life. Or if you've never had such an encounter share with us your five favorite animals, and why. Bonus for videos and photos!

Which one to choose? My favorite shark story? My Ngorogoro crater story? Blind Boy? Pinky? The crazy cat? That's five. Maybe you'll get each one.

So, I went on a shark dive on a dive trip to Australia. On my first shark dive with these folks, they took us down, sat us on a sand bar and then chumbed the water. On the second trip, about five years later, they had a shark cage. They led us down, put us in the cage, shut the door and then chumbed the water. I stood at the edge, watching the sharks. Then a small shark pushes its way into the cage right in front of me. At first, I tried pushing the shark out of the cage. Then I decided that was really stupid, so I stood there with my hands under my armpits so the shark didn't think my fingers were finger food. One of the dive guides swam over and got the baby out of the cage. As I swam to the surface, I wondered about my fear. The shark surely would have given me professional courtsey. (I was practicing corporate law at the time.)

Ngorogoro Crater. We were among the last people to be able to camp in the crater. It's an immense volcanic crater. The walls of the crater loom upward and most of the animals stay in this (compared to the Serengetti) small area. There is a lake and grasslands. Zebras and gnus, lions and giraffes roam this eden. I awoke to the sound of something outside our tent. I wondered what I should do? Ignore the animal or get up? I finally decided if I were going to be eaten alive, I wanted to see what it was. A hippo munching the grass. The only time I've seen a hippo out of the water.

Blind boy. My dad bought a farm when I was 13. He bred black angus cattle. On a visit home, I met a young steer which hung close to the fence. Dad explained the steer was blind. Because he couldn't see, he was easily approached and became a pet to everyone.

Pinky. When one of the sows had a litter, there was usually a runt, a little piglet destined to be squashed or just left to starve in the fight to get to the mother's teats. Dad would bring the runt up to the house and hand it to one of us, usually me. I'd feed the piglet and then watch as it eventually died. One piglet was different, she lived the first day and night and then the next and then after that. Pinky slept in my bed at night. I'd get up and feed her (human baby formula) at night. During the day, she was with me all the time as I tried to keep her warm. She grew up in the house. Pigs don't have sweat glands, so I'd bathe her several times a day to keep her cool. Mom finally said I couldn't use the bathtub; I'd have to use the laundry sink in the basement. One day a patient came to the house to see my dad. As he walked up to the house, he watched my mother as she shooed the animals out of the house: one dog, then another, three cats and then finally, oinking at the indignity of being pushed out of her home, Pinky. The patient remarked to Dad that he'd never seen a pig in the house. (This was a real pig, not one of those tiny pot bellys that became popular later.) Dad's reply: the pig has had five baths today, she's cleaner than you are.

The cat. I don't remember the cat's name. A friend at work was moving and wasn't taking his two cats. He was looking for someone to take one of them. I said I would take the cat if he couldn't find someone else. And then I asked about the second cat. He said that they were going to put the cat down because he couldn't imagine asking anyone to take the crazy cat. I knew the cat; I knew how crazy it was and I said that I would take it too. The first cat fit in pretty well. The second wasn't seen for two weeks, hiding out in the basement. After we had had the animals about a year, I found the crazy cat dead. It was in the morning; I was on my way to work. My cleaning lady was coming and I didn't have time to bury the animal before work. So, I tried to stuff the dead, stiff body in a grocery bag. I got the body in the bag, but the long tail, now curved like a hook poked out of the bag. I stuck the bag in a closet where I thought the cleaning lady wouldn't look. But, she did (she must have cleaned better than I gave her credit for). I can't imagine what she must have thought as she found a cat's body in a grocery bag in the bottom of the closet in the dining room.