- I worked at the county animal shelter for two years. We took in everything: dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, chickens, goats, pigs, snakes, lizards, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, birds and even a turkey vulture (that's a story for another day). The vet would post notes on different cages depending on an animal's particular needs. Above the rabbit cage was a sign that said "FEED ONLY TIMOTHY HAY" because the alfalfa hay was too harsh for their digestive systems. Everybody got a good chuckle the day New Guy came into the break room frustrated, asking "Which one of the rabbits is Timothy?"
- One day at the shelter I was in the front office doing paperwork. A Hispanic couple came in to reclaim their dog. The man spoke broken English; the woman none at all. Our receptionist asked a series of standard questions, including "Is your dog neutered?" The man didn't understand the question. The couple went back and forth in Spanish. Then the receptionist asked "Is your dog fixed?" There was more confusion and more chattering from the couple. I could tell that everybody was getting frustrated. I know a little Spanish -- mostly food and swear words -- and asked if I could help. In the best Spanish I could muster I said "Seňor, su perro, con cajones o no?" Loose translation: "Sir, does your dog have [slang word for testicles] or not?" He gave me a giant smile and said "Si! Con cajones!" I looked at the receptionist and said "His dog is not neutered." My high school Spanish teacher would have been proud.
- My partner and I were sent to Mr. Smith's house -- again -- regarding a cat complaint. The neighbor's cats were constantly lounging on Mr. Smith's patio furniture, sleeping on his car, invading his garage and digging up the garden. Besides irritating Mr. Smith, this is in violation of the leash law. Neighbor refused to believe it because his cats "never left the yard." [BTW, everybody says this. It's a lie. Cats don't give a damn about property lines. If they're outside, they're leaving your yard.] Partner and I agreed to speak with Neighbor. Usually I would do the talking, and Partner would just stand behind me and nod. He was 6-foot 5 inches tall, 280 pounds and black as coal. His very presence scared the crap out of our lily-white beach town. However, things went differently this time. Neighbor answered the door and I was suddenly speechless. I didn't know that Neighbor had snow white nose hairs that stuck a good inch outside of his nostrils. And that they wiggled when he talked, back and forth like a couple of albino tarantulas trying to dig their way out. Partner and Neighbor talked for a good five minutes while the monolog in my head went something like: Doesn't that tickle? Surely he knows they're there. He must be single. No woman alive would let her man walk around with that growing out of his nose. When we got back in the truck Partner looked at me and laughed. "You didn't hear a word he said, did you?" Nope!
|Doesn't say "Thank you"|
- And I didn't know that the same partner was a germaphobe. (He must not have gotten the memo: This a dirty job. Some days are down right Mike Rowe worthy.) One day we were patrolling and I saw turtle in the road crossing from one construction pond to another. I yelled "STOP!" hopped out of the truck and moved the turtle. I let it go at the edge of the pond and it swam off without as much as a thank you. (Turtles can be such jerks.) When I tried to get back in the truck the door was locked. Partner rolled down the window about 5 inches. "Why did you do that?!" he demanded. "Because I didn't want it to get hit." (Duh.) "Not that," he said. "Why did you touch it with your hands?!" I had to stick my hands through the window and let him pour an entire bottle of Purell on them before he would open the door.
- Flower Lane is at the edge of my jurisdiction and butts up against the Intercoastal Waterway. The residents there have a lovely view of the marsh -- if they can look past Trashman's house. I've never been inside Trashman's house, but all the junk in his front yard (not to mention the familiar smell seeping out the front door) indicate that he's a hoarder. As you can imagine, there is tension between him and his neighbors. For weeks Trashman would call my office saying that his feral kittens were disappearing and he knew it was the neighbors' doing. I investigated the complaint but couldn't find any evidence supporting Trashman's claim. Then one day I got a call from a neighbor on Flower Lane about a giant cat in the yard. I went out with catch-pole in hand expecting a large tom only to find two bobcats. I didn't know we had bobcats at the beach! But at that moment I did know what happened to the kittens. Case closed.
- I was dispatched to the Nature Preserve. A park ranger said that three pit bulls were hanging out at the boat ramp. I arrived on scene and discovered that two of the dogs were very friendly. I leashed them up right away and put them in my truck. But I didn't know what to do with the third dog. She was definitely wary of me, and I only had two transfer cages. Another internal monolog ensued: Should I leave her and come back? No, she might run off or bite someone in the interim. Could I squeeze her in a cage with one of the other dogs for the five mile trip to the kennel? No, they're pretty big. If I caught her could I ask a police officer to transfer her in the back of his squad car? While trying to make a decision I found myself chasing the dog 'round and 'round my truck like some perverted children's game. It seemed like she didn't want to be too far from the other dogs, so I thought maybe I could distract her with part of my breakfast sandwich and get the noose around her. (Don't laugh, I've caught many a dog with Egg McMuffins.) I opened the driver's side door to grab my sandwich and walked around the truck. She wasn't there! She had hopped inside the truck and was sitting on the passenger's seat, glaring and growling. The voice in my head screamed: Holy shit! Now what? I eased into the driver's seat and we drove all the way to the kennel, each of us plastered against a door saying -- in our own way -- "Don't you touch me!" That was probably the scariest 10 minute drive of my life. [P.S. Her owner reclaimed all three dogs that afternoon. She turned out to be a sweetheart.]
- I got a call from one of the park rangers about an alligator sunning itself on the bank of the culvert. Bobby said the gator was about 3 feet long and was lying on the cement with it's mouth open. I asked him to keep eyes on it and said I'd be right there. But when I arrived Bobby wasn't there. Instead, another ranger was nonchalantly picking up trash along the culvert. I told Jim to be careful, Bobby just told me he saw a gator. "Don't worry about. I took care of it." Jim laughed at my confused look and handed me the most realistic looking plastic alligator I've ever seen. Poor Bobby was razzed about it for weeks.