Friday, February 13, 2009

A Request from Stacey O'Brien

Hi All!

I have a request. I'm writing a second book that will include more about Wesley, and I want to know what questions anyone has. I won't answer the questions in the blog, but I will answer them in the next book. Since I was so close to Wesley, I don't know what questions people might have. They can be as trivial or as deep, as silly or as philosophical as you want. There ARE NO stupid questions! Please ask me! Or tell me what more you'd want to know about Wesley or my life with him or my life or whatever! THANK YOU in advance!

----------------------------------:
Today I'll tell you a little about my hamsters. For about the last 10 years I've been keeing Syrian Hamsters, better known as Teddy Bear Hamsters. Wesley loved them as his own personal "Owl Entertainment System".. I know of another owl who lives in an outdoor aviary at a rescue/rehab center and there are rats that frequent the area outside his aviary (they can't get in, however). This owl flies down and stands just on the other side of the mesh, watching the rats' activities with great interest! The keepers of the owl consider the rats to be part of the owl's "enrichment". Enrichment is important in captive animals. It means variety, entertainment, things to do, activities - anything that counteracts boredom and depression in captive animals. At zoos they do things like hide the animals' food all over the compound so the animal has the fun of searching it out. Toys are another form of enrichment.

Anyway, the hamsters are enrichment for me, too!

Recently, I had the most wonderful hamster who I called "Fluffy". Yeah, REAL original. But she was ridiculously fluffy and had a two toned coat, and was GRAY in color! Light gray with dark tips on her fur. I changed her name to "Mama Fluffy" after she had a litter and adopted a baby from another hamster mama who wasn't properly caring for her baby. I gave the baby to Mama Fluffy and she didn't even protest! She just nosed him over to the others and let him nurse! He turned out to be a gorgeous all white long haired guy named Marmaduke.

anyway, Mama Fluffy had two litters of 4 babies each. The babies are spectacular! The two I am closest to are Muffin and Awesome Pawsome (she looks so much like a possum that people have actually asked me if she was a miniature possum!). They are sisters from her first litter. In her second litter we have Gwyneth, Gwyndelynn, and Gwenevere, and their brother Preston.

Now, here's where the intrigue and drama comes in.

I also have a nearly 5 year old hamster named Tommy. Tommy was a weak little runt of a baby and for the first 2 years of his life had crumbling teeth, so I had to prepare soft food for him EVERY day. I didn't think he'd make it, but the rest of his brothers and sisters died 3 years ago at the properly ripe old age (for hamsters) of 2. Tommy has lived 2 and a half lifetimes in hamster years! And he's been sterile all these years.

So whenever I have a female in heat (and they are miserable and desparate when in heat so I take pity on them), I've been able to let them in with Tommy to ease their misery without any consequences. Kinda like the summer of love, right?

So....one night Gwendalynn, Gwenyth, and Gwenevere all went into passionate heat and filled the night with their cries and barks until I couldn't stand it anymore and took pity upon them. Tommy knew what he had to do and was very happy to solve all of their problems. Peace came upon the household.

Only, in his extreme old age, Tommy had silently become a stud without telling anyone.

Between them, the Gwenny's had 26 babies, all on the same day.

aaaaaAAIIIIIEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

So I had to come up with 26 new cages, because Teddy Bear Hamsters cannot be kept together without fighting! Eventually they will kill each other. You see them together in pet stores because they are still babies and babies will live in peace with each other.

YIKES!

So THEN.... (and the following has NEVER happened to me in 10 years of hamster keeping)...

Gwyneth's litter, which was 1 boy and 1 girl, and 2 smaller "identical twin" girls, became fertile WAY before they were supposed to. I mean, they were still nursing, for heaven's sake.

But they somehow managed it and the identical twins, Siobhain and Sionead, became pregnant.

Between them they had 16 babies.

GAVALT!!!

The babies are the cutest little long haired PUFFS you ever saw. PUFFS with tiny black eyes. And since the twins were so small, I've had to supplement their nursing by giving them "Just Born" for kittens every day - yes I am bottle feeding them w/ a dropper. All 16 of them!

It's all very cozy, though, and I will be having to find homes for many of them. And I did have an awful lot of extra cages which I cleaned up and started using again.

It's all in the name of loving my animals and having an "enriched" life, right? hee hee hee.


in other news:
I just heard from the guy who had all the spiders from Caltech! His wife wrote to me and we have reconnected! His wife met him when her neighbor sent her over to deliver something to him and told her to keep her arms close to her side because of all the spider webs, and when she went into his house she saw petri dishes everywhere with spiders in them!

But, as I said, he was a good looking guy and they got together and married and had a son and have had an amazing life! They have a huge menagerie of animals, of course! I hadn't seen this guy since Caltech so I'd lost track of him. It's pretty cool to be back in touch and to hear about how his life has gone so well and to correspond w/ his wife!

Also..The PLUSHIES ARE REALLY REALLY HERE! I got a box of them from Wendy and I pulled one out and fell in love all over again. They really do look like Wesley when he was a toddler! I've been sleeping w/ my "Wesley" plushie since I got him. It's amazing! Wendy did an awesome job of capturing his essence in her design, but of course she knew him intimately.

Sincerely,
Stacey O'Brien
@wesley the owl, Inc.

13 comments:

Ter-o-fla said...

I had never even thought of having hamsters as companions, but I quite enjoy reading your stories about them! Perhaps someday I will go down that path.
Thanks!

Roslyn said...

YOU were the perfect person to be given that beautiful creature. I am amazed at the entire story: your devotion and hard work and the ongoing goodness that keeps coming from the relationship.
I literally feel that I have seen into the black eyes of Wesley. Thank you. Once, when diving at night in the ocean, I turned off my light and hovered, looking into utter darkness. I could see nothing but I thought at the same time that I could see around the world. I think that the eyes of Wesley must have had that unending depth, but with the tenderness of his love for you there too,
I am visiting at the home of a friend in southern CA. It's my first time in this part of the country. I live in the far north of Wisconsin near Lake Superior. Friends stayed at my house for a few days vacation from "the Cities" and she had a hard time sleeping because of an owl pair nearby. I wondered what they were talking about all night. She didn't mind.
I am not sure when Wesley started to spread his wings across you in that profound cuddle, but I wondered if he was sensing your illness. I have had animals try to care for me when I was sick. A cat, for example, who would sleep as best he could, lying across my head, but only when I was ill. I felt very comforted.
You are an amazing lady! And so gifted. I admire your ability to invest and reinvest in life and learning.
I wish you all the best, and thank you so much for your wonderful book. Now I carry Wesley in my heart too. I hope you don't mind!
Oh, I was pleased to see that your friend has Ragdolls. I have a rescue Ragdoll who is willful and smart and pretty much runs the show. -Ros
www.glacialdrift.com

readymade said...

Hi Stacey!

I have a question that pertains to your post. Why was Wesley not tempted to kill/eat the hamsters? (since they're similar to mice) Or rats for that matter? Seeing them moving around must have looked somewhat similar to mice. In this case you have to give owls a lot of credit for discerning mice from other rodents!
In the book you related telepathy to take care of Wesley's beak and feet, did you use this for other situations with him?
Did you meet any other guys who actually liked/accepted Wesley?
Did Wesley remember your mom after you moved out of her home?
Thanks in advance for considering these q's!

mithu said...

ok, i don't have any questions about wesley that i can think of right now, but i do have a question about those inconsiderate fools who let those poor vultures out of their cages because of their opposition to animals being raised in captivity. did they ever get caught? were they prosecuted? did they cause any more harm to other animals who were rehabilitating or could not be let out for other reasons? what measures have been taken since to prevent such tragedies?

when i read about those poor vultures, i was so mad, i wanted to find out who these awful people were and their misguided philosophy. i couldn't find anything. i was just so angry all i could see was "red" (i really ought to say "a moving target" instead of "red" since bulls don't discriminate between colours. they go after anything that's moving...and i am comparing my fierce anger to a bulls!!). take care! i will be back with more questions...!

marie said...

Hi Stacey,

I just finished reading your book last night. I cried so much towards the end, first for Wesley and then you being sick. I hope you are feeling better, its terrible. You are so beautiful, did you ever get married and have children? I know Wesley was like your child. I don't usually read books, but I was drawn to this one. I have a 6 year old son, a Chihuahua, Bengal kitten and a Quaker parrot. My parrot calls me 'mama' and it is very sweet. I try to remember his cuteness when he is screeching through the house, it is very loud. I wander how your life is now and if you would be adopting another owl. I have loved animals all my life and I am a vegetarian because of it.
Please email if you can.
Thanks again for touching my soul and making me realize life is short and you never know what cards you will be dealt. Marie
mariejarnold@yahoo.com

Jhbuddy said...

Stacey,
I just finished your book yesterday and was SO moved by your story. Getting to know Wesley through you is something I will never forget. I, too, wondered if Wesley might have sensed your illness when he enveloped you in that magnificent and protective hug. When I was in chemotherapy for breast cancer my dog, Buddy, always seemed to know when I'd had a treatment. On "normal" days if I left the house for even a short errand, he would run up to me and greet me with enthusiastic leaps and kisses when I got home. But when I returned home on chemo days, even though my treatments lasted six to eight hours, he greeted me quietly and carefully. He wouldn't jump up or wriggle excessively, but would stay by my side every moment.

I do have a question for you, and a couple of comments/requests for book 2!

Question: Why didn't you anesthetize Wesley so you could trim his beak and talons without distressing him (although I understand this would cause another kind of distress)?

Comments:
1. I would love to hear more about the spiritual journey you took with Wesley and the spiritual aspects of The Way of the Owl.
2. I would also LOVE to know more about telepathic communication with animals - both in terms of research and anecdotes.
3. OK, I'm nit-picking here, but as a HUGE Harry Potter geek, I must tell you that the correct term is "Howler," not "Screamer." ;)

Thank you again Stacey. I hope you continue to be well.
-Julie

Jhbuddy said...

Stacey,
I just finished your book yesterday and was SO moved by your story. Getting to know Wesley through you is something I will never forget. I, too, wondered if Wesley might have sensed your illness when he enveloped you in that magnificent and protective hug. When I was in chemotherapy for breast cancer my dog, Buddy, always seemed to know when I'd had a treatment. On "normal" days if I left the house for even a short errand, he would run up to me and greet me with enthusiastic leaps and kisses when I got home. But when I returned home on chemo days, even though my treatments lasted six to eight hours, he greeted me quietly and carefully. He wouldn't jump up or wriggle excessively, but would stay by my side every moment.

I do have a question for you, and a couple of comments/requests for book 2!

Question: Why didn't you anesthetize Wesley so you could trim his beak and talons without distressing him (although I understand this would cause another kind of distress)?

Comments:
1. I would love to hear more about the spiritual journey you took with Wesley and the spiritual aspects of The Way of the Owl.
2. I would also LOVE to know more about telepathic communication with animals - both in terms of research and anecdotes.
3. OK, I'm nit-picking here, but as a HUGE Harry Potter geek, I must tell you that the correct term is "Howler," not "Screamer." ;)

Thank you again Stacey. I hope you continue to be well.
-Julie

Russell N said...

For your second book, I really hope you will keep doing what you do, in just the way you did it.

It might not have quite the same narrative power, but I was wondering if you could include a catalog of observations, and whether they are new or corroborating (with references, maybe?). You've learned so much from Wesley, and the more you can share, the better.

Goodall is such great gift to the world because she is a scientist and a poet, and she can view a topic through both lenses without getting dizzy. It is so wonderful to see that she isn't the only one.

Ms. M said...

Hi Stacey - I just finished your book moments ago, after staying away into the a.m. reading for two nights! I loved the book; thank you for sharing Wesley with me. What I would really love is to be able to hear his chatters and calls, if there's a way to upload the sound recordings you made to your website.

Rita Mae said...

Dearest Stacy,

I stayed up late last night and ignored all those other "things" I had to get done today so I could finish your book!

Beautiful story, thank you thank you thank you.

I noticed you were asking for questions, so I am wondering if there was ever any idea to build Wesley an aviary? Or was that just financially and logistically out of the question? Did Wesley ever act like he wanted to "go outside"? Or was being indoors the only life he knew so it wasn't an issue?

Oh! Check out this website:
http://www.willenbrinkjohnsen.com/html/glasswork.html

My friends Karen and Jasen are artists and make the most gorgeous Owls out of glass. They are avid birders and I just told her she HAS to get your book! Or, maybe I will get it for her :-)

Much love to you,

Ritama

Tif Otter said...

Temple Grandin, in her new book "Animals Make Us Human" made an interesting point about emotions. I'm paraphrasing, but she said that the "seeking" emotion is very satisfying for animals... where they don't have a reward but are expecting one soon. They love that anticipation and excitement that precedes their favorite treat/reward/etc. Do you have any stories about Wesley's "seeking" emotion/enjoyment/play time? That's what I'd like to know more about.

Spirit Eyes said...

Stacey,thank you for sharing your beautiful and touching journey with Wesley. I couln't put the book down and cried my eyes out at the end. It was so beautifully written.
I found your book because I was looking up some information on barn owls as a power animal. I wanted to know more about their personality and nature.
Can you please write more about Wesley's personality/nature compared to what you know about barn owls in the wild? Just as you did in your first book. Please add more pictures also.
Thank you so much. I hope you are feeling better. I am looking forward to your new book.

Jessica said...

Hi Stacey!
I do have a few questions but let me first say that I just finished your book last night and I was completely amazed, inspired, and saddened by your and Wesley's story.
Your book changed the way I viewed wild animals and how do, in fact, experience emotions and defy common beliefs and myths.
I was so inspired that I have been looking into taking some courses in biology to see if becoming a biologist is something I would really enjoy.
In regards to being sad, I could not stop crying when I got to the end of your book. While I could only imagine what you felt and went through beyond what was written in your book, I felt like had lived with you and Wesley as well and felt all these emotions that I'm sure you must have felt to an even deeper extent.
Your story was inspiring because you did lose everything you had worked so hard and so long building up. It goes to show that in the blink of an eye, we can lose everything unexpectedly. However you were so courageous and brave when it's so hard to believe that anyone could be, given the circumstances. It really does go to show that we can get through the tough things.
I must say that you were so lucky to know and have the people in your life that you do. They all came together and helped to get you through things. Your friends/family really deserve such a huge praise because I can only one day hope to have those kinds of friends.

Anyways, on to my questions and please forgive me if they are too personal or seem blunt...it's that I am just genuinely curious...

1. Do you still experience regret over the last year/final days with Wesley? How did you come to terms with that?

2. Have you dated or are you dating since Wesley?

3. Did you ever feel lonely or feel that you missed out on getting married and having a family? Did/do you ever wonder if you ever will?

4. Did you ever get frustrated with Wesley? If so, why and how did you handle it?

5. What advice/guidance would you give to someone interested in following your footsteps? I am interested in possibly becoming a biologist and working with animals. How should I go about that?

6. What is the difference between a wildlife biologist and a zoologist?

7. Are you religious?

8. Since becoming disabled, how have you managed to provide for yourself and pay bills? Was your credit damaged when you lost everything? (I ask this not to be rude or anything, but I ask because sometimes, I personally feel overwhelmed and worried that I cannot provide for myself and it gives me hope when I hear other peoples stories and advice).

Sorry I asked so many questions, but I hope you take it as a compliment that you and your story are that fascinating! I consider you a role model in many ways.

Thank you for your story and I look forward to your next book!

P.S. - Please come to a signing or event in Virginia! I would love to meet you!