Saturday, August 29, 2009

Video is on YouTube!!! YAY!

HI ALL! FINALLY the video is on youtube! It's not a documentary or that kind of thing, it's just a short video of me talking about Wesley with some footage of me and Wesley cuddling and just hanging out with each other.

Here's the link:

Now, be warned. When I got sick I gained weight and because of my illness I am still overweight, so I no longer look like that 95 pound kid you see in the book. But I'm alive and that's a wonderful thing.

To me, the most important thing about this video is that it shows Wesley cuddling with me. I'm not sure, but this MIGHT be the only such footage in the public realm of an owl cuddling! Why? There's a horrendous myth out there, believed by zookeepers, animal trainers, biologists, rehabbers - pretty much EVERYONE who works with owls, and it's that "Owls hate to be touched. They do not want affection! Do NOT be affectionate with an owl!"

I've seen "experts" tout this belief on TV as recently as a few weeks ago and it BREAKS MY HEART! The result of this belief is that people who work with owls are told this by people they respect, so they believe it, so they never offer ANY affection to a captive owl, who is then starved for affection. And they wonder why the owl is so feisty, upset, nervous, and won't calm down.

In the wild, owls spend hours and hours cuddling w/ their mate each day, as well as allopreening (preening each others' feathers, which is like getting a massage almost). When they have babies, the cuddling is even more intense. They NEED cuddling for psychological reasons but also physiologically, because it releases endorphins which prevent depression, and yes, owls get depressed.

So, because of this belief in their not wanting any affection, owls are in a sense being mistreated in captivity, albeit not deliberately, by people who would never knowingly mistreat an animal.

Owls are not humans, but imagine raising a human with no touch or affection at all. The human develops 'attachment disorder' which means they cannot bond normally to others and they can't stand to be held and touched, among other things. Some babies will die if never touched/cuddled. Well, owls are very similar to us in that regard.

So this video is SO IMPORTANT TO ME because it SHOWS that a barn owl loves affection, and both gives and receives it. It SHOWS that the owl craves the affection and can be very relaxed and intimate w/ the keeper. We're talking about owls who are unreleasable here. A releasable owl you would never want to interact with as a human because you are trying to get it ready to survive in the wild, so you don't want it imprinting on humans.

But there are a LOT of unreleasable owls in captivity whose lives would be radically improved if people understood that the owls WANT and CRAVE affection!

So please help me get the word out and get this video out so that we can smash that myth for once and for all!

Thank you all so much for your support, your kind words, and for your love for all creatures - even the wild souls among us!


PS: I'm looking into putting mp3s of Wesley's vocalizations up for people to hear...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A video of me and Wesley together will be out soon!

Simon and Schuster has put together a short video of me talking about my life with Wesley, along with never before seen footage of me and Wesley cuddling, kissing, hanging out together. As soon as it's available I'll put up the link! I love seeing Wesley and all his little mannerisms and sweetnesses. There's nothing like seeing how he really was. People who have seen it were pretty much blown away by Wesley's attentiveness and affectionate nature!

Some other cool things have happened - The Christian Science Monitor has given Wesley a big thumbs up, and Orange Coast Magazine does a "Best of" issue every year and said that Wesley the Owl is a "Best of" for best summer read. People Magazine also gave it a mention in the 8/10 issue as a great summer read. It's hard for me to even wrap my mind around this kind of thing. It seems so surreal! Who knew that these pictures of Wesley would be so widely seen, and that his story would actually be known by other people at all, much less on this level! I just feel humbled and awed, and happy that so many people truly "get it" about the intelligence and emotional capacity of animals. To me, that means there are a lot of great people out there, and I meet you at the events so that proves it to me. I feel so lucky to be able to meet so many caring, compassionate, animal loving people!


Book event schedule, plus some good news!

Hi! I just heard that Wesley the Owl has made it on to the extended NY Times Bestseller list at #34. I am HOPING that it will continue to go up from there! Thank you all for your support and lovely comments!

I thought it might be helpful to publish my book event schedule here, even though it's usually also on the website,, so here it is:

Wesley the Owl Book Events: SCHEDULE:

Monday, August 3:

7:00PM Vroman’s Bookstore—Author event and signing
695 E. Colorado Boulevard / Pasadena, California

Thursday, September 10:

7:00PM Latitude 33 Bookshop—Author event and book signing
311 Ocean Avenue / Laguna Beach, California 92651

Thursday, September 17:

Evening San Diego Audubon—Author talk and book signing

Saturday, October 10:

TK San Diego Zoo—Author talk and book signing during zoo’s book festival

RAMONA, CA. (East of San Diego)
Tuesday, October 20:

6:00pm Ramona Branch Library - Author talk and book signing

From the American Library Association...see below.... the description of Teen Read Week. Adults will also be pleased to come as well.
Teen Read Week 2009 will be celebrated Oct. 18-24! This year's theme is “Read Beyond Reality” @ your library, which encourages teens to read something out of this world, just for the fun of it.

I realize it's all California for now. Maybe sometime I will be able to go to other places and meet more of you outside of California, maybe even outside of the US! We'll see. I'd certainly love to!

I had a wonderful time at Powell's Bookstore in Pasadena! The people were fantastic - both the store personnell and the readers who came to the event. Since it was smack in the middle of my old stomping grounds (mere blocks from Caltech), I had the great joy of reuniting with many old friends from the past! I was even reunited with one of my best friends from College and we remnisced about old times majoring in Biology. Majoring in Biology at Occidental College meant field work (same thing at Caltech) and we had a lot of fun out at sea on the Occidental College research vessel, The Vantuna. We also did a lot of camping, working for Dr. Jon Keeley one summer studying the local flora. So many stories... What a FUN major!

I also got to spend time with old friend who I have kept in touch with over the years and who are still close friends. My friend, Brenda, has her daughter coming here from Saudi Arabia for her American Wedding Reception, which is so exciting, and her son's water polo team placed second in the Jr. Olympics. Another friend, Keith, is also a professional writer, who writes political speeches and campaigns. I even ran into a close friend of my Jr. High English teacher, who taught us to diagram sentences. THAT was one of the most important skills to learn, I think. I have used it to help a friend of mind from Burma learn how English grammar works ("Burma? Why'd you say Burma?"... "I panicked.." that's a Monty Python line).

I love these independent bookstores like Vromans, Powells, Warwicks, Book Passages, Elliott Bay Books, Boulder Bookstore, The Tattered Cover...they all have so much character and so many interesting book related products along with the book, and they also have wonderful author events and all kinds of interesting activities going on. They have a vibrant vibe to them, and are attracting all generations to the joys of reading. They have an uphill road and a lot of competition, but I hope you will visit your local independent bookstore and check out their very unique offerings! There's a link to the Independent Bookstores on my website,

Also, the plushie is becoming a popular collectible! I sleep with mine every night and it's my momento of Wesley,.

Fiona, my Colorado Mountain Dog puppy, has finally gotten the message that I actually WANT her to jump up on the bed and sleep there next to me. She'll "endure" sleeping next to me for a few minutes then wants to lay down on the cool floor again. Whe is such a polite, sensitive dog that everyone marvels that she's just a puppy. Once in awhile she'll just get "tickled" and she'll run and run and run, leaping into the air with the agility of a cat. I'm so taken with her and her breed that I've asked Wendy to reserve me a second Colorado Mountain Dog puppy from the next litter!

I think that it's usually best to have two dogs. That way they can keep each other company if you have to leave the house, and they can play with each other and rough-house in their doggy way and keep each other in shape. When I was a kid, we had one dog who was about 3/4 coyote and about 1/4 collie/shepherd. We lived up in the Angeles Crest Forest area, near the top of where the houses were, and this puppy came from a home way up in the mountains. The mother of the puppy was allowed to run loose with the coyotes and, well, thus our puppy was born. This was long before "The Lion King", but we named her "Simba" because I was in my Swahili phase (I wanted to grow up to be just lke Jane Goodall, so I figured I'd better get going and learn Swahili as soon a possible! It didn't matter that I was 10 years old, all I wanted for Christmas was Swahili lessons, and my parents found them somehow, so we were all sort of learning Swahili together). Simba was so agile that she would climb up our ivy covered fences or the 12 foot wall, then run back and forth along the top of this brick wall like a cat! Wow. She also took her dog dish out and dumped it in the grass and rolled in it every evening. Coyotes roll in their prey to disguise their own scent.

Then we got Tiger after Simba was a few years old, because we were going to Hollywood a lot in the evenings and wanted a very big dog to go with us. Tiger's grandmother was the grand national champion of Canada (Malamute), but her mother had mixed it up w/ a German Shepherd. Tiger was great. He was huge compared to Simba, but Simba absolutely dominated him. When they played, Tiger would be rolling on his back as they wrestled. They played for hours every day and they kept each other young and playful. This convinced me that it's a good idea to have two dogs so that they are companions to each other.

Fiona LOVES cats because she grew up with Wendy's ragdolls. Wendy breeds Ragdoll cats very seriously, so Fiona really understands cats, and even acts like one herself. So she knows how to go up to a cat and not intimidate it. I would like to get her a kitty companion but that wouldn't work w/ my hamsters, so another puppy it is!

That's the news from my world right now! I hope you're all doing well and enjoying your summer!