Anyone that knows me is aware of my undying love for animals. I have had pretty much every kind of pet that one can have (both the common and uncommon types). When I was a little girl I was part of 4H so I had chickens, horses, goats, peacocks, as well as the typical dogs and cats. I lived in California on a 50-acre ranch. I literally lived the country song lifestyle, including the “red dirt road”. When we moved to Indiana we traded in the country life for more suburban living and left behind the chickens and goats for the more common animals and some not so common ones, like ferrets and sugar gliders.
I have had a love of all animals (minus crickets and grasshoppers…. well anything with the creepy hoppy legs freaks me out). I am, however, I lover of snakes, rodents, and other strange pets. When I moved out of my parent’s house I kind of went through my bucket list of dogs and cats that I wanted, but sadly I was not ready to be a good pet owner. I needed to learn how to truly want something and then keep it for its entire life. So when I started dating my (now) husband I made the decision that any pet that we decided to get would be with us from the day it was rescued/purchased/received until the day it was no longer on this earth. We have had one loss in all that time, Mr. Mozzie our Great Dane died at the age of 16 months from complications due to bad genetics/breeding. He was a wonderful dog and dearly missed. It was a rough loss but we continue onward. I dedicate this blog to all of our fuzzy and not so fuzzy “fids” (fuzzy, feathered, freaky- kids).
When Justin and I first started dating we lived in an apartment complex pretty close to a very busy state road. We lived on the ground floor facing the road but there was a large hill (sound barrier) between us and the road. The people that lived upstairs had this cat that they used to lock out on the balcony all the time. I mean like his cat box, food, and water bowls, everything was out on the porch. The complex we lived in didn’t have overhangs for the upstairs so he was sometimes in blistering heat and pouring down rain. He would sit on the edge and meow for hours sometimes. If we went outside he would ALMOST jump down because he wanted to be loved on so badly. One day I was reading on the couch that faced the sliding glass door and I saw this large object fall from the second floor, next thing I know the cat is standing at my slider meowing at me. I got up and ran to the door to let him in thinking he’d finally jumped down. He came in as happy as could be and started investigating the house. Next thing I know the upstairs neighbor is walking a cat box, bowls, and cat food to the dumpster. They had tossed him OFF the second story like garbage. I waited until they went back inside and then walked out to the dumpster to retrieve all of his things. My older son was two at the time and I asked him what we should name the kitty and he replied, “Ninja” and thus Ninja the Blue Point Siamese joined our family. He has always been a loving, sweet, and patient cat. He loves the kids, the other animals, and anyone that comes to visit also gets a meet and greet from Ninja as well. He sleeps in bed with someone every night and is the best cat I’ve ever had in my life.
About two months after opening the door and letting Ninja into our lives, I met the next member of our family. One day, in the summer of 2012, I saw a brown dog running along the road. At the time I didn’t really think anything of it because we also lived in the country in a way (outside of the city limits) so I figured she belonged to someone down the road. I actually saw her several times over the course of a week and my father mentioned seeing her as far away as my grandmother’s house, which was about two miles down the country road going away from the state road. I started getting concerned when I saw her out on the busy road one day when I was leaving for work. I didn’t want her to get hit by a car but every time someone attempted to approach her, she would run away. A few days later I was bringing groceries in from the car and I noticed a bunch of the neighborhood kids chasing her around the complex. They were poking and prodding at her and she was showing her teeth and snapping at the air around them. I was pretty upset because I thought, “Where are these kids parents?” because if she bit one of those kids, she was going to pay the ultimate price… death. I ran into the house and found some leftovers in the fridge and went back outside and started rattling the box until she noticed me and I put it on the ground. She ran over with the kids chasing her and started gobbling up the food. The kids kept trying to touch her and I finally said, “You know what guys, enough. She’s going to wind up biting one of you and it will hurt.” They backed off but the kept standing there looking at her so I grabbed the bag of dog food I had in my car that I was planning to leave out for her that night and made a little trail to my apartment. A reminder, I didn’t know this dog and I had a man, child, and cat living in my home. Thankfully, Rayne was gone to his Nana’s house at the time, but Justin was sleeping on the couch WITH Ninja when I opened the door and allowed this strange dog into my house. She ran around for a few minutes sniffed Justin’s hand and saw Ninja but turned and walked away from him without a care in the world. I was very nervous about letting her stay and originally I called all the shelters in the area to let them know that I had her with the intention of giving her back to her owner when they called. When Rayne came home a day later that was the big test, which in my mind she basically failed… or so I thought. Rayne was petting her and she showed her teeth and I said, NOPE out, and I let her out the sliding door with the hopes that she’d find someone else to let her in. She went on a little sniff and potty break and then promptly sat down at the slider and barked viscously at anyone that walked by like, “This is my house back off.” I sat there with Justin thinking what the heck am I going to do? I opened the door and said, “Look, I’ll let you in but you show your teeth at my son again and you’re out for good.” Thankfully I learned later she smiles and she was smiling at him that day. With that, Lexie Lu entered the family. We aren’t really sure what she is, at first I thought she was a boxer and lab, but I have since come to think she probably has some pit bull in her along with whatever else is in there. She a sweet dog that loves the kids more than anything. She protects the house enthusiastically and never lets strangers come inside until I tell her that it is ok. She’s a wonderful family dog. Oh, and about a year ago the Humane Society here in Morgan County called to ask if I still had her or if I’d ever found her owner and I told them No, she found a home with us. They were very happy to hear that she was home.
It’s been four years since Ninja and Lexie came to live with us. In that time we didn’t really gain a lot of animals until recently. About a year and a half ago I decided to get another cat and I found a Bengal mix on Craigslist for free. She was super pretty and I loved her instantly. Since we had Ninja, I continued the theme and named her Samurai or Sammi for short. Unlike Ninja, she didn’t come prefixed and declawed so she remained clawed but she was spayed last year. She is a noisy cat and always lets me know that she is suffering when her food bowl is running low. She sleeps with one of the kids every night and loves to play with Ninja. She also likes to go exploring outside, for about 20 minutes and then promptly finds a window to sit in and yowl loudly until you let her back inside. She’s a lover for sure. She’s my inquisitive one that likes to see what everything is, whether it’s a bag or checking out what’s in the box she’s the first to investigate something new in the house. She’s also the brat child because when I worked for Serenity she ATE one of the finches I had in back stock… and it wasn’t like a plain zebra finch that costs like $15 it was a male Lady Gouldian finch that costs like $125. Brat cat but we love her anyway. I apparently don’t have any big girl pictures of her but she looks the same, only bigger in the photos of her as a baby.
I’ve always had a love of the scaled, reptilian creatures of the world. I’m not big on OWNING the venomous variety but I can appreciate their beauty from a distance. When we moved into the house Justin and I decided that we would have some reptile loves and have acquired a little crew of beasties to call our own. I love Leopard Geckos and when a friend of a friend told me that someone they knew was getting rid of all of their geckos for free I said that I would take them. I wound up with four (three females and one male) geckos that I love so much. They rewarded my loving hard work in caring for them with a single bratling last month. While I do not know yet if it is a boy or a girl, I am hoping for a girl. I love the youtube show from Geek and Sundry called “Critical Role” and in the honor of the show, all of my Leopards are named after characters on the show. The male is Grog while the spotted female is named Allura, the White female is named Pike, and the yellow female is named Keyleth. Even though I want the baby to be a girl I named her after a male character called Scanlan. They are great little creatures. I think my favorite thing is that they know my voice and come out of their house when they hear me calling them. Yeah yeah, I’m calling them for food, but they don’t come running when Justin calls them to eat. They know that I take care of them and they each have a little personality. Grog is laid back and likes to be held, Allura is a wild child and likes to come out to walk around on my lap, Pike originally was very shy and didn’t even like to come out of the house to eat unless I walked away. Now she’s the first one out to eat and even starts climbing the side of the tank when I get close. Keyleth is the quiet one, she likes to eat and come out, but she’s not big on being held. Scanlan is a little booger that bites, but A) it doesn’t hurt and B) it’s because she’s a baby and will grow out of it. They are funny little geckos and they climb all over their house during the evening hours. (Pictured- Grog by himself, Pike and Keyleth are next – Pike is facing the camera, and then Scanlan the baby and Allura has the spots).
The Leopards are not the only geckos that we have. We recently in the past year have found the joy of Crested Geckos and have one boy and one girl. A local pet store originally had the male with a different female priced with a breeder cage at $350.00 but no one would buy the set and in the end, the female was sold alone leaving the male and the cage. They know that we love Cresteds because we already had the female we have so they offered the male AND the specialty tank to us for $50.00. Yeah, that was a deal we couldn’t pass up. The Crested by himself was over that price let alone the cage, which has over $200 worth of stuff inside it. So we now have Joker to go with Harley Quinn that we already had from before. We do plan on getting two more a red named Deadpool and don’t know color named Vanessa (yeah yeah I know I’m crossing bad boundaries for some people having D.C and Marvel names but HEY I love them). (Harley is the first three pictures and the Joker is the second three) Note: Crested’s lose their tails very easily and unfortunately they do not grow back. Both Harley and Joker lost their tails before we got them. We are hoping when we decide to get the other two they will have and keep their tails.
Geckos are not the only scaled creatures we have at our house. We also have a single Ball Python named Mazikeen or Maze for short named after the character in the T.V. show Lucifer (Yes another comic lol). When we found her she was, according to the store associate, “Evil”. She tried to bite and would strike out at people if they got too close to her. They gave her to Justin for $20.00 because he wasn’t afraid to reach in and get her. I don’t know what her problem was at the store because she’s like a puppy dog with us. She eats frozen thawed so she really doesn’t have the predator drive to “hunt” things. She gets perfectly warm already dead mice to enjoy. What I love about her is, she is NOT a normal ball python. We lucked out that she was a brat at the store because she’s not a $20 snake. Maze is a Champagne Ball, which is a very pretty morph in Ball Pythons. One of the things I like about having reptiles is that they aren’t expensive to own. Yes, getting some of the things they need and be expensive but we already had a bunch of that stuff. Reptile food (if you know where to get it) comes pretty much in bulk. We buy a bunch of frozen mice at a time (the bag we buy lasts up to 5 months), a single bag of Pangea Gecko mix (probably once every three months), and $10.00 worth of worms for the leos every two weeks. They are not hard to keep at all and the entire family enjoys them very much. The picture I have a Maze is the first day we brought her home and it’s not a good picture. She needed to shed really bad because she had a stuck shed and she was really dry. She looks much better now.
Lastly, we have the feathered fids. We have a plan to have four total birds at some point but right now we have two. Crowley Scout is our Green Cheek Conure. I got him from a friend because she said he was mean and he would bite her. My parents raise Umbrella Cockatoos so the pint-size beak on a Conure scares me just about as much as sitting here in a chair. So I offered to take him home and work with him. I quickly learned several things; A) He is a lover not a fighter, B) He’s cage shy, and C) He was bored out of his mind. He did bite a lot when he thought it would do anything. He has learned that it doesn’t work with me and I will continue to ask him to step up even if he’s biting me. He is learning that hiding in the back of his cage and trying to flatten out so I can’t get him to step up won’t work either because I just pick him up by the body period. He had bad manners because he was allowed to act a certain way, now that he’s learning that he can’t act that way he’s not doing them as often. He also got some upgrades in his living quarters which really helped as well. I was taught that birds need a lot of different perches (different heights, widths, and textures) to promote healthy feet. It’s like standing in the same spot every day in the same shoes if you don’t give them a variety. Their feet get sore and weak. He now has several different perches of varying sizes and shapes as well as texture. I have noticed a change in his noises that he makes and his attitude since the upgrades. Next, we have Ash, the White Faced Cockatiel. He is still a baby being handfed at the bird place we picked him out from but he will be ready at the end of June. I have had a Cockatiel in my life all my life and recently we went to the Zoo and they have Cockatiels there that you can feed and it rekindled my want for one. I actually put my deposit down on Ash before I said that I would take Crowley, but that’s ok I don’t mind having a few of them. The plan is to have a Sun Conure named Castiel and Justin wants a Blue and Gold Macaw (no clue on the name), at some point in the future. And yes, they are all named after Supernatural characters.
We don’t have them yet, and we won’t for a while so these are just some generic pictures of a Sun Conure and a Blue and Gold Macaw for those that don’t know what they look like.
I would like to end my blog with a budget of cost on animal care. Once you get through the initial cost of purchasing your animal of choice and their accouterments and accessories they really aren’t that expensive. Thankfully for me over the years I have acquired an array of things like tanks, light hoods, heating pads, water bowls, etc so a lot of the things I need, I already have. I also have a knack for finding a good deal on the creature(s) I am looking for.
Our Current Monthly Cost in animals
Dog: Food $40 a month
Cats: Food $20 a month/ cat litter $25 a month
Crested Geckos: Food $8 a month for the liquid and $5.99 a month in meal worms or crickets (total rounded to $15)
Leopard Geckos: $23.96 (rounded to $25) a month for worms
Birds: Food $10 a month and we make their toys so the supplies to make them runs about $20 every couple months
Snake: $20 every few months in Frozen Mice (we buy a $20 bag of them and it lasts a long time depending on how many or how few she eats at each feeding)
Total Cost: If we had to buy everything at once every month: $185
Typical Cost since we don’t buy everything every month: Est. $120-$140 depending the the revolving thing
Beauty is we DON’T have to buy all of those things every month. It’s kind of a revolving change of what we need and it’s nice to have animals in the house. I think it makes for more well-rounded children and I like my house to be lively with different and interesting things.