Sunday, August 7, 2011

I'm back - thanks for your comments!

Thank you all so much for your kind comments about the book, Wesley, and your good wishes! I haven't been on the blog because I was staying with my Dad and his wife as my Dad was dying. He died and I've been home for awhile grieving and trying to process it all. I apologize for not posting or answering comments for so long! I will get caught up, though.

When I got home, I found that my dog had an intestinal blockage all the way from the end of her small intestine to the exit of her stomach and could not eat at all. She was nearly starved to death. It took me a little while to figure this out, since she still ate a little bit and drank water and did some elimination....she's always been a very picky and slow eater. But finally I realized she was in trouble and it's been a long road back and has taken my nearly undivided attention, starting with syringe feeding her colostrum, then oils that would help her to pass on the huge mass of stuff (there was even a bent nail in her intestine!). Most of it was hairballs. Her brother has been shedding like crazy, and when she plays with him, she pulls on his fur and probably was swallowing a lot of it. Anyway, she is now gaining weight but I'm still spending most of my conscious time with her.

Those of you who work in raptor and other animal rescue - Good job! I have the utmost respect for people who do this. It's hard, messy work, and you are working with animals who will never bond to you. Yet, it's got to be the most rewarding work ever for an animal lover! The opportunity to work so closely with a wild one, and to help these beauties to return to the wild, or if not that, to at least be safe, warm, and fed. That's what every animal wants, really, including humans!

In answer to Chana's comment, I cope w/ the migraines probably a lot like you do. The animals really help a lot to keep my mind off of it. I do NOT let myself get into self pity even for a second (I think about all the people who were born into horrible circumstances like slums in some places where they can't even get clean water and certainly can't get any medical care at all..and then I feel so lucky to be able to get medical help, food, water, and to have a roof over my head at all...). I also pray and make sure I don't get too isolated. I have a few friends with whom I've been very close for many years, and we talk on the phone almost daily. That helps - to stay socially connected. My disability keeps me pretty much home most of the time and often in bed, so the phone is my lifeline. I made sure I have free long distance and only pay a set fee every month - kind of like Vonage but it's through my cable company. Hmm..what else. Well, the hamsters keep me laughing and loving, and of course, Fiona, my dog.

I have not written a book for small children yet. Someone else wrote a childrens' book called "Wesley the Owl" but it's not by me! It's a self published book and I've never read it so I don't know if they're telling my story or not.

A lot of little kids read the regular book. The vast majority of parents (with a few exceptions) seem to have no issue with either letting their child read it, or reading it aloud to them.

However, I DO want to write a book for very small children. I just haven't done it yet.

I'm writing about my hamsters right now - believe it or not they ARE so interesting. So full of personality and fun and intensity and, yes, intelligence. They each have their own individual personalities and quirks and logic. I never get tired of them. Each one is a surprise and I've averaged about 40+ hamsters at a time for the last 12 years (they are each in their own separate cage, because teddy bear hamsters will kill each other if in the same cage, unless they're still babies). I'm also writing some about the rescue animals I've worked with and their stories. Right now, the format is a bit like the All Creatures Great and Small books, not to imply that I'm as good a writer as James Herriott by any stretch of the imagination!

Thank you all for your kind support and for taking the time to write to me! It really encourages me a lot to read what you have to say! I wish you all the very best in life - joy, peace, health, friendship, love.



Emmett said...

I just finished reading Wesley the 0wl and I am in tears as I write this.
I just recently lost my (dog) best friend and constant companion Sophie, and your words of feeling Wesley through other owls and such reminds me very much of what I have been experiencing.
I wanted to say.. thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. I loved every page of it, and can't wait to share it with all my friends and family. I have learned more about animal behavior from your book than most animal behavior books! I have never heard of animals using telepathy before, and am very excited to try it with my cat.
I personally believe that humans and animals form very special, very strong bonds, and Wesley is proof a thousand times over of this.
So thank you once again for sharing such personal and intimate details of your life with Wesley.
I wish you all the love and joy of the world Stacey.

susan said...

sorry about the loss of your dad. i finished reading your book just now and had to email you. i have been reading comforting pet books re animal-human bond after a significant loss. loved reading about your bond with wesley. read it in bed since i, too, am chronically ill. i am so encouraged reading about you, your attitude, in spirte of your health. thank you. God bless.

Megan said...

Hello my name is Megan. I have read your book a couple times. I got it for Christmas two years ago because I love owls and other animals. I was wondering if you could help me with my future. I go to college next year and I want to do Animal Rehabilitation. I have wanted to for a couple years now. I was wondering what I would have to do to get there. What I would have to major and minor in. I plan on going to SUNY-ESF. If you want my e-mail, just tell me and I will give it to you. Nobody that I know knows what I am supposed to major in. I honestly think it is a couple of things but I don't know. So if you could reply back, that would be great appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Hello Stacey,
Please accept my condolences on the death of your father.
I have just finished reading your book and was enthralled, delighted, entertained and rapt from start to finish. I have rarely had such a good read - it's one of the most delightful and heartwarming stories ever told, and told so nicely.

I was browsing in a little bookstore and couldn't find a single book I actually wanted to pay for to read, until the picture of Wesley caught my eye on the bottom row of a set of shelves. My heart melted immediately, so I just picked the book up and bought it without looking any further.

I started reading bits to my partner from about page 2, and he was so interested to read it himself he couldn't wait til I finished, so it became a competition to see who could get to the book first each evening!!!

I have contacted a rado program on our Radio National here in Australia (like your National Public Radio), recommending they have you as a guest on the program. I hope they follow up.

Thanks for sharing your life with Wesley. It's a book I will keep coming back to.

Warmest wishes

Ter-o-fla said...

Stacey, my heartfelt condolences to you! You were very kind to spend time with your Dad at the end of his life. I am sure it was a comfort to him.
Glad you are "back" now.
Take care.

Wynter0wl said...

That is really sad Stacey. I lost all my grandparents a while back but it's sad because I have no grandparents and my parents are orphans now so I know how you feel.
I hope your dog gets better. I'll pray for you.
<3 <3 =)

Ruby J. Plank said...

I loved the book. I thought it was very cute and funny. I love animals and before I read your book I though owls were boring. My second favorite animals are dolphins next to animals. What do you think is smarter, a dolphin or chimp? I think dolphin because there was a beluga (I think it's a dolphin)that saved some diver person. The other Wesley the owl book is not based on your Wesley. It is some other owl species. I wish I could have a barn owl. They are so pretty. When I go to the zoo I'm going to look in the barns for some "Wesleys!"
I love Wesley! He is so cute! I love it how he tears up magazines and understands some of the things what you say and how he wont poop in his nest and how her loves water and even that he gets embarassed! It is all to cute!

Kiersten Lippmann said...

Hi Stacey,
I just re-read your book. I enjoyed it even more the second time around. I am a wildlife biologist and worked with spotted owls in the Siskiyou area (Yreka/Ashland) for a couple summers. It was a wonderful time. Just me, my dog, and the owls along with bear, cougar, and the odd bigfoot sighting (perk was I got paid for it). Because I learned to produce by mouth all the owl calls I still love hooting at the Great Horned or Boreal owls here in Alaska. I especially love seeing or hearing barred owls when I visit back east. They are so similar to spotted owls.

I was wondering if you could send me some links or more information on the visualization/communication technique you used as Wesley got older in order to make him understand that you needed to have him let you trim his talons and beak. I'm considering ways I could apply this to my dogs (Alaskan husky sled dog, German shepherd, and Belgian shepherd). I think I've sub-conciously used this technique with my companion animals in the past, but I'd like to take it to the next level by actively using this technique.

I am sorry to hear about your Dad's death. I hope you can find peace during this difficult time. All the best to you, Stacey. I am still at an early stage in my career, and your work with animals inspires me to pursue my dreams, and not settle for anything less.

You are a wonderful writer. James Herriot was an amazing storyteller and had great timing and ability to move the story forward (partly due to the fact that his stories were generally fiction or a mix of fact/fiction), but your story really came from the heart.

If you have more stories to tell, go for it. I think you would have an eager audience.


Unknown said...

Dear Stacey
We send our most sincere sympathy to you on the loss of your Dad. We were very fortunate to have not only worked with your Dad for 35 years we shared a friendship which included alot of JPL activities; softball, bowling, social events and we especially enjoyed meeting you, Gloria and your Mom many years ago. Your being with him must have given him great comfort during this sad time for you both.
We wish you all the best with your health and spectacular endeavors in our beautiful animal kingdom.
John (Jack) and Bonnie Meenan

DU WAG said...

I'm so sorry for ht loss of your father. Your book was so moving and beautiful. There is a wonderful sanctuary in my town which I think would benefit from a visit and talk from you abourt your experiences with Wesley. The link is Best wishes,

Renee said...

I just finished reading your wonderful book! I just happened upon it at the library and am so glad I did. I am sure it was not accident! You are such a great writer! The book flowed so well, was humerous, and just made so much sense. You are a very open and beautiful person with many wonderful talents!
Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey with Wesley. It really shows how the universe and everything in it can be connected in love. I am so happy for you that you got to have such grand experiences and had such a beautiful bond with your beloved Wesley.
Thank you for all the great work you do! I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your father and that you are still struggling with your illness. I am glad to hear how your attitude around it is positive and that the animals in your life continue to help with your healing. I send you much peace and healing. Much love and many blessings!

Krista said...

I just finished reading Wesley the owl last night. I was crying so hard I was afraid of waking up my roommates!

I loved the book so much. I have recommended it to everyone I possibly can, and my mom has already expressed interest in wanting to read it.

It was so inspiring to me! I am in college right now studying wildlife biology. Whenever we talk about raptors in a class I think of Wesley.

My thoughts and prayers are with you on the loss of your father.

Your story is beautiful, and I am glad you shared it with the world!

susmc said...

Hi Stacey, I am Susan and I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pa. I am hearing-impaired. I can talk and speech-read, and even have some partial hearing thanks to my hearing implant system (cochlear). I am fifty-eight years old and have been deaf since the age of four. I just read your wonderful book and I'd like to tell you that my late uncle was a falconer. When he started this sport in the 1930s he bought home two wild captive falcons (Peregrine). He found that he was confronted with a food problem because the birds were so hungry all the time. His father consulted with an expert falconer and finally found a local pigeon supplier. So my uncle was able to have live pigeons to feed the birds 24 hours a day. He also used mice.
I also had another uncle (his brother) who was an accomplished falconer for many years.
If I were to keep a live tame owl in my house, I wonder how this animal would communicate to me because of my deafness. It could be a different form of communication than the one you described in your book, because you had normal hearing when Wesley was alive.
I am an animal and bird liver just like you.
Best wishes to you !
Cheers, Susan

xkyh said...

I loved your book. Loved it. I read it, although it belonged to my sister, while we were on a trip in Japan.

It all shines through from the book - the peculiar yet familiar love of animals and nature that drives people like you to go so deep into the care and study of them, and deeply personal configurations of psyche that allow you to bond with an animal...

I used to have aspirations of being a marine biologist when I was young, and I was utterly convinced I'd be working in a field with animals when I was older.

Admittedly, the love faded away, smothered gently by other cares as I grew older, but when i read your book, it was as if I was rediscovering the younger part of me that would become obsessed with the names of different types of flora or marine life, or the optimal living temperatures of a snake.

I don't know you personally, and I am probably projecting, as is inevitable, but I feel that I love you very much as a person and am glad you exist.

Your optimism in coping with your condition, too, is inspiring. I will try to take my own, lesser, problems in my stride. I promise this, to you and to myself.

Take care. Please.

Eljae said...

I just finished reading your book this morning...what a beautiful experience. I blew through the last seven chapters, laughing out loud and then crying out loud. Stacey, what an enlightening story. A friend loaned me the book and I thought ,"Wesley the Owl? Sounds like a nice light reprieve from my usual fare of dog training manuals." Yet tucked in your love story are lessons and insights that I found invaluable and inspiring. I found your visualizing/telepathy experience especially interesting and will be experimenting with it as I work with dogs with all sorts of fears. Your book reminded me to practice patience and slow down a bit. I realize now that I have been neglecting to make a respectful connection with the dogs that I work with, as I rush into trials to'fix' their behavior. Thank you Stacey for sharing your experiences. My condolences to you on your father and grandmother and of course your (s)owl-mate Wesley. Life is beautiful, joyous, painful and wonderful. I wish you improved health and look forward to any future endeavors.
Laura Wilson, CPDT-KA
Farmingdale, NJ

Carole Barkett said...

I just finished reading your book and now my husband is reading it too. I was very happy to see you had a blog and I look forward to a time when your are able to post regularly I know how life has a way of interfering with our plans. My thoughts and prayers for your difficult time

Wynter0wl said...

When I'm older, I want to get two dogs; a Husky and a Border Collie.

Do you like budgies? I have one called Sunny. He is 7 years old and loves to talk gibberish!

jkwoods said...

Stacey, I just want to thank you for "sharing" Wesley with the rest of us. After the first few pages, I was already in love with him! You said once that you thought he was possibly an angel sent to you to help you through dark times, loneliness, etc. There is no doubt in my mind that he was. I have raised orphan squirrels and baby robins so have a taste of what you were able to share with Wesley. One of my fondest memories of my robin, Babybug, was the day I let her loose in the backyard and she waited in the tree branch to "share her day" with me once I returned home...the chirps and peeps were precious and it was apparent that she had much to say. Loved, loved, loved the book!

Ireland Guide said...

Stacey, Good to see you are well. I returned to Ireland some years ago to raise my young family. I was always amazed by your natural gift with animals. You are so never told me about Wesley - now I am looking forward to reading the book! If I can find it on this side of the world.
All the best,
Roibeard MacLochlainn

Stacey O'Brien said...

Dear readers/friends,
I have been unable to access my own blog for a long time now, and have been struggling with the blogger site all along, simply trying to get my blog re-linked to ME, whereas it now appears to be floating out in cyberspace with no "author". No matter what I do, it says I am not the author, even if I do manage to get logged in!

I have so wanted to thank all of you for your very kind words and to respond to some of your questions and comments, so I decided that writing in the comment section is better than nothing. I know most people won't even be looking in the comment section, but until this mess somehow gets fixed, that's the best I think I can do. If you have insight into how to fix this, please email me at I must warn you though, that this email account is inundated with everything from spam to random updates from all kinds of sites, so I don't log in to it that often and even if I do, I hardly get to all the emails. BUT, I will try to be better about it!

I've been writing. I'm working on several books at once because they all seem equally important to me, so it's slow going. I feel that most people want me to write another animal book, but I'm really enjoying writing another book, which it not about animals per se, but is about a roommate I had who had just arrived from a world so different from ours that it might as well be another planet. I've often daydreamed about what it would be like to meet someone - a time traveler - from the past, and to introduce them to the concepts of freedom and democracy and critical thinking, to the new technologies, to the way women have rights, to the new ways of the world that go all the way back to their most obvious origins in Greece and Rome. But, short of knowing someone who has just left a stoneage tribe from deep in a jungle (and that would be tragic - I think people who live in such tribes should not be messed with and should be allowed to live freely without their forests and way of life being destroyed) - short of that, how could that happen in modern day Southern California? Well, it did. And it was an amazing adventure for me and for my roommate, who has more courage than most people can even imagine. I desperately want to share her story.

If I were to put such a story out there, would the people who love the animal story still be interested? I don't know. But my roommate's story is so amazing, so inspiring, and so instructive to all of us of all the things, the ideas, that we take for granted and usually know by the time we can articulate, that it's pretty mind blowing. It needs to be told. It's not a typical refugee story, although I read as many stories of people from other cultures who have gotten out of repression, war, oppression, and all kinds of situations and somehow survived that I would love to someday write the story of another friend of mine who is indeed a refugee. We meet people every day (at least here in California) whose stories are so full of pathos, sacrifice, bravery, loss, courage, perseverance that they inspire me to a sense of gratefulness and awe.

So...I'll be writing in the comments section until I can figure out what to do. I hate to move my blog to another site, because I feel that some people wouldn't be able to find it. That's why I'm still trying to make work (it used to be, so maybe my blog got lost in the transition?).

With love,
Stacey O'Brien

Stacey O'Brien said...

To answer some of the questions in this section of comments:

Dear John( Jack) and Bonnie,

Hi! Wow, thank you for your kind words. How amazing that you have contacted me! Do you know Emily O'Brien? If so, you can get my private email address and phone number from her. I'd love to connect with you! Also, Cyndi Chin might also have my info, and she definitely has Emily's!

Thank you all for your wonderful letters and comments! I am always amazed at how a book can connect people who have never met. Books are magical to me, because when you read a book, you are reaching across both time and space and being allowed into the thoughts of another person, vicariously experiencing some of their experiences and emotions, seeing through their eyes. I have always been an obsessive reader for that reason, I think, mainly. When I wrote Wesley the Owl, of course I had hopes that someone would read it, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that people would be reaching out to me in such a kind way and connecting like Anne Shirley's "kindred spirits". You are the biggest blessing by far that Wesley has brought me. Thank you so much! I'm glad that you were touched by Wesley and that your own animals mean so much to you, as Wesley meant, and continues to mean, to me!

The birds in our lives do communicate, and though we may not understand all that they're trying to say, they ARE communicating. It's just that, for the moment, many of their meanings haven't been figured out by humans. I'm reading a book now that's not out yet that proposes that crows do have a complex language amongst themselves that has, of yet, gone unstudied. Studies of killer whales have gone as far as saying that each pod not only has its own song and sounds, but literally its own CULTURE! By culture, they mean the way they hunt, the way they raise their young, how they communicate - dialects within the baseline language of killer whales... There was a documentary on TV (I didn't write it down) about how different pods figure out different hunting techniques, then teach this to their young, so that each pod has their own unique methods of hunting that are not shared by other pods. Most of these methods involve complicated cooperation between members of the pod just as wolves communicate between each other during and before a hunt so that their efforts are synchronized. Some of these very coordinated movements are another anecdotal argument for a high form of communication and possibly a telepathic element to communication. It's all so fascinating!

Stacey O'Brien said...

A lot of people have asked me how I did the telepathy thing w/ Wesley, and really, it's about slowing way down, quieting myself, and focusing on pictures that I then send to the animal. I also talk softly and gently describing the picture. So with Wesley, I pictured (in my mind) calmly trimming his talons and talked to him about it. Wendy has used these types of techniques with her horses, including her stallions, all of whom exist in a herd. The entire herd regards her as the head animal. If she needs a horse to do something cooperative that is not in the horse's usual behavior or instinct, she sends what she calls a "picture postcard" to the animal. She has even used REAL pictures, such as when she was going to be sending one of her horses to a new place. She explained that it was not abandonment, but that this was an even better place where this horse would be the center of attention and showed the horse pictures of the new ranch along w/ the mental explanations. I don't know if horses can even see what a literal picture represents, but I think it's worth experimenting. After all, without experimentation you don't have discovery. If no one had tried to teach chimps and gorillas American Sign Language, they wouldn't be using it. Now, Koko the Gorilla can read ENGLISH (seriously!!) and can sign her name. If they hadn't tried teaching her to read, they never would have known that she could learn it.

A lot of what you can teach an animal has to do with how their senses work, and adapting to that. We cannot expect them to adapt to us, although they certainly do! But if an animal is driven by, for example, affection, then bits of food aren't going to impress him (well, now I'm talking about training, which is not the same as communicating because it is goal oriented). I have noticed that my Colorado Mountain Dog will not be impressed by food treats as a way of teaching her, but the Chihuahua is very impressed by food - he lives and breathes for food. It's ridiculous. lol. Yes, I have rescued a Chihuahua!

I was walking Fiona late at night - which I never do except that I did this one time - and this Chihuahua scuttled out from under the bushes and approached us very warily. He was unfixed, and so is Fiona, so he was fascinated by her, although he can easily walk under her and could only reach her knees.

He had no I.D. on him and it was late and there were busy streets - plus it was cold (for a tropical dog), so I took him home. That was on November 11 and I've been trying to find his owner ever since. He's very well trained so I can't imagine that someone dumped him! I have discovered that Southern California has two populations of stray dogs! In Orange County, it's Chihuahuas and Pit Bulls. In Los Angeles it's Chihuahuas, Pit Bulls, and Bulldogs. Those are almost the only breeds you'll find in the shelters, but they are inundated with those breeds - most unfixed.

The shelters here will not share information in the way they once did, allowing you to post that you've found a dog. Nope. They'll only do that if you give them the dog! They say they'll call you and give you a chance to re-claim the dog before putting the dog down, but to me it was not worth the risk.

"Scooter MacGooch", the Chihuahua, has turned our peaceful lives upside down because he's so energetic and the opposite of the mellow, easygoing Fiona. Luckily, he has already been well trained. It's remarkable to me how different the two dogs are, though, in what motivates them.

So, with communicating w/ an animal, it's important to closely observe what makes that individual tick - what excites and motivates them, what do different sounds and body movements mean to them...etc.

Little Towhee said...

Hi Stacey,

I hope you are faring well, and I am sorry to hear about the loss of your father last year.

I read _Wesley the Owl_ over the last couple of weeks as my homeschooled 3rd grader has taken up a great interest in birdlife (and the natural world, in general). I got the book for him to read as he kept begging for literature about birds, but I wanted to screen it first. He will start reading it next week, and I just know he's going to love it. I'll even have him doing some lessons and a book report with it. (But I hope you will not mind that I will slightly filter just a teeny bit about sexual matters in the book. Although, I do plan on taking the opportunity to hopefully instill in him that the mating stuff isn't "dirty" in the way some of humans have tried to make it, haha, rather it's natural.)

I confess that I've never been "animal person". The few pet dogs I had growing up left me quite heartbroken after their passing, and I couldn't really bear getting entwined in such a relationship again for the inevitable pain. Your book about Wesley offered me a different perspective - about why such relationships with animals have value enough that doesn't die with our earthly lives. It is not a waste of time to care for animals or their habitats. Hard tasks and relationships offer us more, quite possibly, than we think we are losing or giving up in the work and caring. Your book brings all that up. Beyond being "educational", your book was also edifying!

I just wanted to encourage you in your endeavor at authoring another book - even one about a person instead of an animal. I think you've experienced enough to know of the human spirit and have something to offer.

Thank You,

Ruby J. Plank said...


Ruby J. Plank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
julia said...

Dear Stacey,

My heartfelt condolences on the loss of your father.

I am so happy tonight to have found your blog. I was looking for a way to contact you, because my 12-year old daughter read your book when she was 10 and fell in love with Wesley and your book.

In school, she was recently asked to research a person she admires and considers herself similar to, and she has chosen you for the biography project. If it is OK with you that she present her biography about you, would it be possible for her to interview you briefly over the telephone or Skype (15 minutes or so) to supplement what she has found? We understand you have many things going on right now, so no worries if you're unable to grant this interview. But she would be thrilled to speak with you, if it is possible.

Thank you, and our very best regards to you. Please keep writing!

Angela said...

Hi, Stacey. I love your book. As a special education professional I was very struck by how Wesley's behavior mirrors many of the behaviors that we use to define an individual with ADHD. Research has shown that the amygdala in individuals with ADHD is of smaller volume than individuals without ADHD. Meanwhile, those with Autism have an amygdala with a larger volume than individuals without Autism. I feel that we have so much we can learn from animals and I am intrigued by the posibility that we can gain insight into the above mentioned disabilities by looking at our owl friends. Have you heard of such a relationship in the past? (amygdala/owl behavior/ADHD/Autism)
Can you help to direct my research in this area with any resources you may know of?
Thank you!

Unknown said...

Stacey-I whole heartedly understand you connection to Wesley. I raise Bobwhite quail and just lost a very special, go everywhere with me, hen who passed at 7 1/2 years. I was devastated and still miss her everyday. Personality plus. I have a Gambel's quail who is 16 years and a very special guy as well.There are a number of well written true stories about quail, the most famous "That quail Robert' I have many copies of it and even have met up with the family on the internet. I wrote my own quail book as well.
gotta love our special pets.
Jan Endsley Eatonville Washington

barefoot14 said...

Just finished reading Wesley the Owl, which was left as a gift by an anonymous houseguest. In 2010 I published a book about my 15 year old cockatiel, I'd love to send you a copy. There are many similarities in the personalities of Wesley and Bud! It's called My Bird, Bud--The Corporate Cockatiel.
He has a Facebook page and you can probably message me thru that? I'll try the email address you posted in an earlier comment.

Aryn Alba said...

Stacey, you have inspired me to become a raptor biologist. There is a family of Barn Owls roosting in one of our old oak trees (they have a hollow there) and I think they have four or five babies. Well, they are not really babies anymore, since they have nearly finished branching, but they are still young. I loved your book and I know that raising an owl would be a big responsibility, but once I have a stable job as a proffessor/ornothologist, I am considering taking in an owl. I think I will specialize in Strigiformes as well, so I can study the birds I lovce in greater detail. Do you think this is a good idea? I was wondering if it would be best to be a proffessor, so the rest of the year can be spent making discoveries in the world of owls. What do you think? Thank you.

Sue B. said...

Stacey, I just finished reading your book. What a wonderful story about your sweet Wesley. I love all kinds of animals and I know that they are so capable of emotions of all kinds. I saw in the back of the book where you referenced Alex the African Gray Parrot. I had read that book a few years ago and loved it, too. I read every page of your book. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are so blessed to have had this experience.
A. Sue Billings

eevee-lily said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your Father, I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing Wesley with everyone, I cried my eyes out , what a fantastic little guy : ) I volunteer at an owl and birds of prey sanctuary ( only once a week if I can because I gave up my very nurse career after getting a brain illness, sometimes I am in a wheelchair) barn owls are my favourite, that is how I ended up reading your book, much love to you, thanks for such a heart warming story xx

eevee-lily said...

..sorry about the typo, that should of been "veterinary" nursing career

Unknown said...

It has been a very long time since Stacey left a post. I fear the worst has happened. Does anyone know what became of her?

Unknown said...

It has been a very long time since Stacey's last post. I fear the worst. Does anyone know what happened to her?

Unknown said...

Hi Steve, I'm sorry to have worried you. Here is what's happening - I've been trying for a LONG TIME now to get help from blogspot or their apparent owner, google, but to no avail. I can log in, but I'm no longer recognized as the owner of this blog! It's just floating out there in cyberspace w/ no apparent owner, so I can't post! It's so frustrating. I could move the blog, but then would anyone know where to find me? To make matters worse, my website has "disappeared". Wendy, who was the one who administered it, has no idea where it went. She vaguely remembers changing her own websites to a different platform but apparently mine got lost in translation - all of it. She even has ALL of my pictures of Wesley. I don't have a single one other than the ones that were published. So it's been pretty much a nightmare! AND, of the people who followed the blog, how many will actually check the comments to see if that's where I'm posting? Frustrating. But I'm probably going to have to find another site on which to blog, and will have to cut/paste this blog onto it for history and to keep the comments. Then I'll put the new address in the comments section of this blog and on my Wesley The Owl facebook page and hope for the best! I'm ok and am still trying to get it together to move to Colorado, but that's a work in progress that's very slow, partly because my health keeps me down a lot and partly because I have so many hobbies that I have a whole house full of stuff that has to be filtered through and gotten rid of, organized, labelled, stored, etc. I'm working on several writing projects but haven't solidified any of them yet to the point where they'd be ready to take to a publisher. The book is doing well, however. Last summer, Free Press had a promotion w/ Barnes and Noble, where Wesley the Owl and other of Free Press's bestsellers were put on a front table (books are put in certain key places quite deliberately and the publishers pay a high price for this placement). It outsold all the others in that particular promotion, including Infidel and some of their other big bestsellers. Wesley just kind of trucks along steadily like the tortoise in the fable of the tortoise and the hare. The book is being used more and more in school systems and colleges both in the US and in other countries and languages. I'm thrilled about that! I was hoping it would inspire young people to go into the sciences, especially the biological sciences, and to realize that these subjects can lead to thrilling careers, and are far, far, far from "boring"! Anyway, that's the news. I also found an abandoned Chihuahua while out walking my Colorado Mountain Dog, Fiona. I named him Scooter, and after looking for his owner for months, finally decided that he's mine. They are so cute together. They play and roughhouse with so much ferocity that it would be scary if you didn't realize that they're not hurting each other. Scooter is a gutsy little fellow and smart as a whip. He already knew his doggie obedience commands (who would abandon such a dog?), and is not a yapper, thank God. He and Fiona sleep curled up together when it's cold enough (Otherwise, it's too hot for Fiona). It's been cold in California for a few weeks and I love it! I'm down to only one hamster now, whose name is Finula. She's all black and looks like a velvet teddy bear. She has white paws and a white chin and chest and is very affectionate and cuddly. She has her own separate room that's heated, because I don't heat my house at all (Scooter has his own wardrobe of fleece pajamas, hooded sweatshirts, flannel pajamas, and a down winter coat, plus a heated bed for when Fiona isn't available, so he's warm. I'll read through the other comments and try to answer any questions after I post this...

Unknown said...

To Aryn,
I'm SO HAPPY that you are studying to become a biologist! I don't know if you're already in college or how far along you are, but if you haven't declared a major in college yet, I suggest, for an undergraduate, Ornithology (such as you can do at Cornell, for example), or Biology (the most likely major for an undergrad). If Biology isn't available, but is split into types, I recommend Environmental Biology, Evolutionary Biology, or, best of all, Behavioral Biology. Psychobiology is not animal oriented so isn't such a good match as the others. Then, you'll want to go on for a graduate degree if possible. You mentioned becoming a professor. This is a long, very hard road and it will be a long, long time before you can make a decent living at it, in many cases. On the other hand, once you're working on a PhD, you can work in your field and department as a T.A. (teacher's assistant), a lab assistant, and spend your summers working in the field. I ALWAYS recommend using those precious summer months taking up some kind of assistant job doing fieldwork for a professor. I spent some of my best times out on a ship doing Jacque Cousteau type work, another summer was spent camping and crawling on my belly through chaparral and then studying the effects of fire on seeds back in the lab, and another job camping in the high sierras watching the behavior of white crown sparrows and then back at the lab raising some babies and learning about how the singing mechanism works...these jobs don't pay well but are absolutely valuable as lifetime experience, and as a way to find out what kind of work really does suit you. It also adds to your resume as a working biologist.

Unknown said...

The path to professorship in the major colleges includes getting a PhD in behavioral biology if you want to do exactly what I did. Another word for it is Ethology. In fact, Ethology is specifically what I do. There are other kinds of behavioral biology that are more laboratory oriented, such as aspects of neurobiology. For behavioral biology you will need to take as much neurobiology as you can possibly get. You may need to get your PhD in that, depending on where you go to school. Caltech has a Behavioral Biology PhD program. I only really know the world I was in, so my advise doesn't include the world of large state universities - so do research beyond my advice, please! ;-) In the world of Caltech, Harvard, Cornell, and others that do the behavioral biology thing, you do a long post doctoral stint after your PhD. See what I mean about a long process? At Caltech it takes about 12 years to get your PhD, and that's AFTER your Bachelors, but I'm told that's very unusual. In most places you can get a PhD in 4 years after your bachelors. But to become a professor you'll need those years as a Post Doc. Post docs find a program where they are mentored by a tenured professor. That relationship will carry you into your first professorship, based almost entirely on the connections and recommendations of the professor under whom you did your post doctoral work. While a post doc, you'll work in this professor's research, eventually publishing articles with him/her, and establishing yourself as a published biologist in that field. It's super important that you end up in a post doctoral program that's a tight fit with what you want to do as a professor yourself, because that's what you'll be qualified to do. The postdoc can last 5-10 years, but you are paid during that time. You may also assist with teaching classes, depending on the school. Then you apply for professorships. There are other tracks if you want to be a professor, I'm sure. Not everyone has to be a Harvard or MIT professor. I think you can start teaching in colleges in some cases once you have a master's degree - you could teach in community college, for example. But if you really want to have your own lab and research projects, you want that PhD - if you want to stay in academia. But there are other ways to do behavioral biology. You could be hired to do field work with someone else in a field you love, you could be a wildlife management type instead of a prof, and still work with wild animals and raptors. You could mix that up with doing raptor rehabilitation, which isn't lucrative financially, but there are some people who are the heads of wildlife rehab centers who at least are able to live off of that by taking a percentage of the grants and donations given to the center. To do that, you'll want to apprentice with someone who already has a raptor rehab center. If you're majoring in wildlife biology or environmental biology, etc. and you volunteer at a raptor rehab center, and if you are faithful, you can work your way up to supervisor. Once you're experienced at it, along w/ your degree (maybe even a bachelors), you could possibly work on setting up your own raptor rehab center based on your experience and education.

Unknown said...

Money really helps, as always, because there are these amazing conferences for wildlife rehab people, where you take classes like, "Dealing with maggot infestations", or "gunshot wounds" or "starvation in raptors". The list of specific classes is endless, but the more of these conferences you go to, the more of an expert you'll be in rehab. They really don't teach wildlife rehab in schools, so the track of starting as a volunteer in a raptor rehab program right away, and sticking with that for as long as possible, is one way to end up working intimately with them for a living. I know this is long and confusing, but I'm kind of just brainstorming here. I hope this helps! Also, if you're up to the challenge, when I majored in Biology, I never took the watered down calculus for biologists or physics for biologists. Why waste the opportunity? I took calculus and physics for engineers and am so glad I did because you go in depth enough to understand WHY instead of just getting an overview. I think those classes teach you HOW to think, which is extremely important. Plus, it increases your options and opportunities! I ended up doing a lot of work as a UNIX specialist in engineering, which I could not have done had I taken the lighter route w/ the physics, chemistry, and math. I took a lot of computer engineering and algorithm classes after I graduated, to beef up my engineering possibilities, so I could make a better living while working w/ Wesley. Anyway, grab every opportunity you can. And if you can't go to the most high falutin' school around (they're sooo expensive), you can supplement what you're getting in your classes with free lecture series from the best schools in the country via itunes and other free university opportunities. You can listen to the best lecturers in the world on many subjects, such as neurobiology. It takes discipline, sure, but when you're in college, this is your chance to grab all the education you can get while you have the chance! I had no use for sororities or any of that - I was there to soak up as much as I could while I had the chance and I'm so glad I did, because I did not go on to get a PhD! There are many paths, though, so don't be afraid to think outside the box, too. Jane Goodall made all her biggest discoveries before she even went to college! She went to Africa after high school and worked for Louis Leakey, and went into the jungle at age 20 with her MOTHER as her companion, and just persisted and persisted against all odds until she was able to observe the chimps directly. After a long day of work she typed up field notes and just didn't give up. AFTER she made her stunning discoveries, she was whisked up to Cambridge to get the fastest PhD ever gotten in about a year or two years' time by writing up what she had already discovered! So there are exceptions to the tracks other people have taken. Read her book, "in the Shadow of Man" about her early years as one of the world's top ethologists. You might want to also read a biography of her. Another book, which has a slow start but is really worth reading if you want to do immersion studies like what I did w/ Wesley is "Illumination in the Flatwoods" by Joe Hutto. He lived w/ a flock of wild turkeys that he hatched and went out foraging with them, etc. You could do something like this without a formal education if you have the time and place to do it.

Unknown said...

Sorry this is so long, but I assume that you're not the only one looking into a life with wild animals. Oh...and there's a completely different track, which is becoming a wild animal trainer for the movie industry. There are schools for that, too! And Wildlife Management, where you do things like tagging birds in nests and checking the health of buffalo herds in state parks, etc. are out there for people w/ degrees in biology. It's not a field that usually leads to big money at all, but it is satisfying! Also, look into zoo programs in your area. Some zoos have adjunct educational programs from magnet schools to higher education opportunities. Many zoos have captive breeding programs for endangered species, and the trend now with zookeepers is for a zookeeper to bond closely with one particular animal so that he/she can really see if there's a problem w/ the animal, and the animal trusts him/her enough to allow itself to be handled and medicated with very little stress. That's another way to get close to wild animals! If you can volunteer at a zoo or work at a zoo, it's another way to get your foot in the door! I wish you the very best of luck and hope you are able to follow your dreams! _Stacey O'Brien

Stacey O'Brien said...

This is frustrating, I think I must be an internet idiot. I tried to make a new blog, calling it Stacey O'Brien / Wesley the Owl. But now it won't let me log in w/ the username and password I had set up for that, either! Can anyone else even see that page? Does anyone know how I can notify the 285 people who follow this blog? It won't let me notify, because I'm not the owner of this blog, it thinks. Don't know what to do....

Unknown said...

Stacey - Thank you for the detailed reply. I was worried when I saw you hadn't posted for a year, especially after your book ended with your health problems, and last post you had lost you dad, etc. I'd just been introduced to you, after a friend gave me your book. Wonderful book. I'm continually surprised by the ways of the animals. You and Wesley gave us a glimpse of this. Thank you for that. I live with a 23 year old cat and an 18 year old dog, and they keep surprising me! -- Steve in So.NM.

Shirley said...

Hi Stacey, my sister-in-law gave me your book to read. Actually gave it to my husband to give to me with the message that it is as though the book had been written just for me. The strange thing is, shortly before that I started wondering (don't know what took me so long) if there was ANYone out there that cared for animals the way I did. Then I started reading your book. Must say, haven't finished yet but was shocked to read that maybe there was :-)!!!! Can't even kill an ant - although, like you, I have killed to feed birds I have reared. And reared a few barn owls too - don't ask me what type :-/ Live in Zimbabwe - if that gives any idea. But yes, so far loving your story! Wish I'd paid more attention to mine but there were 5 and I thought I would be doing them more harm if I'd got too friendly with them. By the way, fed mine day old chick mortalities - as recommended by my vet. Just a thought - that may be where you can get your food from should you run short again ;-) Oh, and the black Zimbabweans also believe that an owl hooting outside your house is a bad omen. Cheers, take care, and thank you for giving me hope and well as a good read :-) Shirley Underwood

Stacey O'Brien said...

I have given up trying to regain ownership of this blog. If you find this, please go to the wesley the owl facebook page where we can chat and post and ask and answer questions. It pains me and grieves me that some of you may lose track of me and I with you because of this mixup w/ ownership of the blog!

If you do see this announcement and you know other people who were following this blog, please tell them to go to facebook's wesley the owl page. There are several, but this is the one w/ a lot of activity on it and about 3,550 'friends' ...

I really hope I don't lose track of you! i've become very fond of you all!


Unknown said...

I am so moved by your book, My Dad told me I had to read it, we kept a Barn owl who was injured when I was a child.
Your writing will stay with me forever.
I'm speechless.

Julie in Japan said...

My husband and I LOVED this story!! PLEASE MAKE IT INTO A MOVIE SOMEONE!! We loved going to an owl cafe here in Japan where the owls perches on our heads and hands and we got to pet them!

Unknown said...

My brother recommended your book. What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing!

Volker said...

Hello Stacey, sorry about your loss of your dad's passing. We all go through this in our lives when we have parents. I'm glad your dog is making a recovery.

I have four white cats [all related, from grandmother of the clan on down] The three youngest are all part-Persian. We are very close. I have know the three since the day they were born and the oldest since I brought her home at age one and a half years [Lucy was keeping her previous owner awake at night. I also have experienced depression in cats, Lucy in particular.

On owls, barn owls in particular, I purchased your book, Wesley the Owl, and am about a quarter of the way through the book having just received it last week. I saw my first and only barn owl at the age of 10. We lived in a former old farmhouse in southwestern Ontario. A subdivision had been built on the land behind the house. Anyways, I came upstairs one evening to get ready for bed, turned on the light to the bedroom and briefly saw a barn owl on the windowsill outside [before my parents got siding and new storm windows]. I don't know who was more frightened, me or the owl! It took off into the night sky. That was 1963 and the last time I saw a barn owl. I will continue reading the book, it's fascinating!!!


Unknown said...

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