Seemingly, Sarah became well-known to her friends and their friends as someone who would make sure a lonesome, unlucky animal found heartfelt, unconditional love. There was always a steady parade of lost dogs, hurt birds, and abandoned pets that were fortunate to find the apparent savior of all homeless animals—Sarah. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have an immense amount of sympathy for unwanted pets, and I’m all for helping out when one is down on their luck for a while. However, there comes a time when enough is enough. I helped Sarah nurse many pitifully sick animals back to health only to find that she fully intended to keep the energetically healthy creature after its close brush with death.
For clarity, let me mention that some of these poor patients and homeless animals were not the normal pets you’d expect to encounter in a standard household. There were slews of wild birds from little sparrows to cooing pigeons that survived to soar again courtesy of Sarah’s careful treatment. The entourage of reptiles included everything from turtles to lizards to snakes, including many horned toads with broken legs or hurt toes. The multitude of small mammals that could be contained in cages while receiving Sarah’s magical touch included mice, rats, rabbits, and squirrels. In the mixture of assorted animals, Sarah even took in a baby skunk.
Actually, that little skunk was a good lesson for my compassionate daughter, because she finally learned that some creatures do not belong in the house. Right now, I’ll make the point that I had already had some funny experiences with skunks. The one pertinent to this story is that my own mother was privy to adopt exotic pets, and one of those pets was a cute little skunk. My mom’s skunk had already had the musk glands removed: This was supposed to keep it from stinking. Let me tell you, skunks stink! There is no point in removing those musk glands; they still stink. Anyway, Sarah’s baby skunk was a rescued orphan whose mother had been run over on the road. One of the boys involved in the death of the mother skunk knew that Sarah would take care of the babies, so several boys ran around to catch the scattered babies. There were originally three orphaned skunks, but two of them escaped before they made it to Sarah’s tender loving care facility. The baby skunk was so small that its musk glands were not yet developed. With a knowing nod, I told Sarah that she could keep the little fur ball until it was a little bigger and began to develop the odor skunks are so famous for. Of course, she argued that she had heard of people having pet skunks and vowed that she would never put it in jeopardy again by sending it back into the cruel, heartless world to struggle on its own. Instinct already made the little skunk turn and lift its tail when it was frightened, but no smell was emitted. I chuckled as I told her that the skunk would eventually stink up her room. She bought a harness and loved taking the little black and white orphan for a walk. Many people were curious, and Sarah loved the attention she got from bystanders as she walked her little pet. She laughed as the skunk tried to spray her siblings when they teased it, and I silently smirked. Finally the day came that she approached me and told me that she guessed her little pet needed to be set free in the canyon behind our house. She had come to realize that the baby skunk couldn’t help stinking, and that she couldn’t stand the smell in her room.
Likewise, my attempts to let her learn her own lessons have continued into her adulthood. Now that you are enlightened regarding Sarah’s big heart and love for animals, I can explain the reasoning behind the referral to a fable. Sarah’s younger sister, Annie, passed away in 2003. Sarah coped by naming the next puppy she adopted Annie Mae, after her little sister. When Sarah called me to tell me that she had a new puppy and she named her Annie Mae, I was in disbelief. I tried to convince her to reconsider the name, but she was adamant. Sarah had named a Black Labrador puppy Annie Mae—in honor of her sister. As Annie Mae began to grow, there was evidence that she needed a strict hand. Annie Mae’s restless energy kept everyone around on constant vigil to calm her. I felt like everyone was always yelling at Annie Mae, and I told Sarah that I didn’t like the way this tribute had turned out. Sarah was unconcerned and replied that I was over-reacting. In my effort to bite my tongue, I decided to bide my time until I could get my point across. I hatched a plan that was contingent upon Annie Mae becoming a mother herself. When the day came that Annie Mae dropped her first litter of puppies, I lovingly picked out my new puppy. As I announced that this puppy was mine, I happily informed my grandsons that they should begin calling her by name when playing with her. As I told them that my beautiful puppy was named Sarah, they jumped for joy and clapped. We’ve had lots of fun with Sarah. The boys still love to tell Sarah that she is tickling their toes when she licks them. Imagine their glee as they confirm that Sarah is their mom, so they laugh and show off when someone new comes around. They say, “Mom, stop licking me, because it tickles too much!” or “Mom, I know you’re glad to see me, but you don’t have to wag your tail so hard.” Now, my pet Sarah is beautiful and smart; I rarely have to raise my voice to her. Also, my daughter Sarah is beautiful and growing smarter every day; she often calls me for advice now. Thus, Sarah has decided that she needs to use discretion when choosing names for her beloved pets, and the lesson learned here is to listen to mama: She usually knows what she’s talking about.
This story could be classified as a fable, because the intention was to teach my daughter a lesson. In hindsight however, I guess I might look more like the fool than she does. I think my oldest daughter, Sarah, has been an animal lover since birth. There have been many instances that I have had to hold my breath and count to ten before dealing with the stream of hurt animals, lost pets, and smelly cages she gathered in her youth. I tried to smile through every stray she brought in, because I wanted to encourage her thoughtful and caring nature.