From the Mental Album – When Harvey met Sunshine

This is the third of a three-part series talking about my two favorite childhood pets.  We first met Sunshine, and then Harvey.  Now we’ll see what happens when Harvey meets Sunshine.


You may recall from the second part of this series that Harvey developed a fatty cist under her tail feathers later in life.  We originally thought it was yet another egg, but the vet told us differently.  We had Harvey out of her cage one night, examining her. 


I think we had just brought her home from the vet, and were discussing what he said. 


I remember sitting on one of the chairs…

dum-dum dum-dum

…holding her in my hand, just a couple of feet above the floor.

dum-dum dum-dum

At that moment, Harvey wasn’t in her cage, and she wasn’t in my room.

She was in Sunshine’s reach.


Almost faster than I could see and in one smooth move, Sunshine snatched Harvey out of my hand and into her mouth.  She immediately started to retreat with her prize.  Everyone in the room screamed, with the exception of Sunshine who had her mouth full at that moment.  Blue feathers were flying everywhere.  I grabbed Sunshine by the scruff of her neck and started smacking her butt to get her to let Harvey go, which she eventually did.  She probably only had ahold of Harvey for a few seconds, but those were some of the longest seconds of my – or Harvey’s – life.

Dad took care of Sunshine (yet another time when she was locked in the basement).  Mom and I started to carefully examine Harvey.  At first, I thought the only real damage done was the loss of feathers, but then I lifted up her wing, and saw the blood.

A lot of blood.

My first thought was to get it stopped.  Apply pressure?  Stuff her side with gauze, or washcloth?  Those would have probably been viable, even recommended, options here.

Yet, for some bizarre reason, my brain at that moment came up with flour.

Yep, that’s right, pack her side with flour.  That will stop the bleeding.  Flour!

Um, yeah.  Did I mention that I don’t do well under life-threatening pressure?  Let’s all be glad that when my daughters were born, there was someone with an actual medical degree in the room guiding the process.

So, my parents did what any parents would do when their child was on the verge of a meltdown because his pet parakeet had just been mauled by the family cat.  They started spooning in the flour while I called the animal emergency room.

Sidebar: That’s another thing I’ve noticed about kids and pets.  They don’t get seriously hurt until after 8 o’clock at night on a freaking Saturday.  You know, when the only option left is the ER?

The animal ER said they we should bring Harvey in, which we did.  When we arrived, we explained what had happened, and the receptionist took her back.  I honestly can’t remember how long we waited, but it was probably at least 20-30 minutes.  Eventually the vet came out into the waiting room to talk to us.

The bites weren’t as serious as they looked, she said.  It looked like she was going to make it.  They did, however, have to spend a while getting her cleaned up – at which point she shot me a glare as if to say “what the hell were you thinking – FLOUR?!?”  At that point, the life-threatening pressure lifted, and reason was allowed to flow back into my grey matter.  Oh yeah, flour would have been good to soak up the blood, but not so good at stopping the bleeding in the first place.  Yeah, what the hell WAS I thinking?

At any rate, I don’t remember if we had to leave Harvey overnight, if they bandaged her up at all, or pretty much anything that happened after the vet came to talk to us.  I just remember being very relieved that Harvey was going to live.



Harvey went on to live quite a bit past that incident – at least a year, if I remember correctly.  She did regrow the lost feathers, but I don’t think she flew after that.  I think the cist on her butt put her off balance.  I also don’t think I had another pet of my own after Harvey.  She was the last in a long line of hamsters, mice, and fish.

Sunshine went on to live a few more years yet.  She saw me through high school, and would eventually meet the college girl I was to later marry.  Although “meet” is probably too cordial.  “Hissed at” is really closer to the truth.  CJ used to say that she and Sunshine came to an agreement: Sunshine would continue to grant CJ life, and vice versa.

All of our childhood animals brought a lot of joy to our lives.  And a lot of good memories.

Just don’t ever look to me for veterinary medical advice – especially when you need it the most.


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