Goodbye, My Friend

In 1991, at 1 a.m. while I was driving home from the vet clinic where I worked in Ellisville back into the city, I saw what I thought was an alley cat in an alley about to pounce on a pigeon. It was the Monday morning after Easter Sunday. Cursing pigeons, I flipped on my beams and dashed out of my car (in the rain, mind you) only to discover that it was a discarded and distressed Easter duckling, abandoned after the festivities (months later I found out his whole story, two decades later I am still too angry to describe the abuse). I had that duck for 17 years.  His name was Peacy, and I adopted a Cayuga duck which I named Onyx for his friend, who outlived him by one year. The night that I got him, I had no one to call – it was 1 in the morning.

Walter Crawford of the World Bird Sanctuary dies at 70 following surgical complications

Walter Crawford passed away Friday 17th during complications due to hip replacement surgery.  He began his career at the St. Louis Zoo under director Marlyn Perkins and left there with his blessing to work with the birds at the research and rehabilitation center in Tyson. 

His passion was education, he was going to be a presenter at our own Gateway Parrot Club’s education event an fair next month (more on that later).  He loved the raptors, especially, and his presence will be sorely missed. Here is the Fox 2 News segment on his work and his passing.

Dorene Olson

POP! BOOM! BANG-SPARKLE-FLASH! 4th of July and Our Pets

While us humans enjoy cookouts, friend and family get-togethers, and ultimately, when darkness falls, glorious fireworks, the celebration is not always shared with the same enthusiasm by our dogs and cats.  Our parrots are a mixed bag; many of them are excited by the noise and colour and drama, our back yard chickens are mostly on their perches and immune to the drama around them. So, how can we help soothe these fears?  I am including an excellent article from British dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell, for advice. To paraphrase, don’t do as I did. One year, I thought (how STOOOOPID could I have been?!?!) that it would be really fun for my very social dog to go with the family that I lived with then to Kirkwood Park to the 4th of July celebration, which included fireworks. She enjoyed the preshow (got her own hot dog – again, do as I say, not as I do …) but when the fireworks started, she was obviously and understandably alarmed.

Dorene Olson

Bedding for baby chicks and adult birds

Bedding is an essential component to chicken husbandry and there are several viable options and reasons for choice. For baby chicks, flooring is a critical issue as, if the flooring is slick, they can develop an issue called “splay leg”, which causes their legs to grow askew from the center of their body and crippled them for life.  An adult bird can live with mild forms of this, less successfully if it has occurred in both legs, but it is an uncomfortable condition and preventable so their is no need to subject them to this chance.  As a result, newspaper is not recommended.  Shavings can be used, however, the chicks can ingest the shavings which can cause impaction of their crop, which can be fatal.  Some breeders that I know use old t-shirts, which can be easily laundered, others I know use paper towels. For adult birds, during the day being on pasture or in their run is the norm, which are obviously either grass or dirt, although for those of you who have chickens realize, grass quickly goes by the wayside after the chickens are done with it. Bedding in the coop usually consists of shavings, although some people use straw. Sand is also a good alternative.

Dorene Olson

Chicken naming ceremony: “Xesca” means “girl” in Catalon

I have a very dear friend who raises a very rare breed of chicken called a Penedesenca.  They are from the Catalonian region of Spain. They are very unusual in one regard. Usually the colour of the ear lobe dictates the colour of the egg – a white ear lobed chicken lays a white egg, a red ear lobed chicken lays a brown egg. The Penedesenca chicken is a dark black chicken with a white ear lobe that lays the second darkest brown egg, second only to the Marans. I have a little Silkie/Serama/Cochin cross that is a rescue from Georgia, who was originally named after me, but I got her confused with another chicken and thought that her name was Cuckoo, so she has always gone by that name.

Bedding material for animals: chickens and others

Bedding material comes in many options, and there are pros and cons to each one. Depending on the animal and its life stage, bedding varies by species and age.  Obviously, livestock and hoof stock, like cows, sheep, horses, alpacas and llamas, work well on beddings of straw (not hay, that is what they eat) although some people use shavings, such as pine shavings. With domestically kept chickens, ducks and turkeys (and other related poultry animals) straw shavings can be dangerous, as they are slippery and unstable, and can cause a condition called “splay leg”, where the legs go uselessly out to each side and the animal can neither stand up nor walk, and can result in permanent paralysis and subsequent death. I worked for 11 years at an avian and exotic veterinarian clinic, and saw many cases of splay legged birds. Our treatment options wavered from surgery, hobbling and such treatments as putting (smaller birds) in Dixie cups with their legs tethered together with cotton or gauze wadding between their legs to keep them in the proper position.

Dorene, on naming Border Collies

I have a “thing” about naming things, for some reason, it is really important to me.  For instance, with my four Border Collies, Piper came named “Blackie”, which not only offended my creative sensibilities but was socially awkward. One of the first jobs I did with him was rescue four Pekin ducks off Jefferson Lake in Forest Park during the middle of the day and I was running around as the sole white woman yelling her head off to “Blackie way to me!  And Blackie come bye, and Blackie LIE DOWN!” … it was beyond awkward. So after many weeks of pondering, I named him WyndSong’s Pied Piper, as he leads his charges to the water but they can swim and do not die.

A Truly Inspiring Tale of Love

Hi There, Dorene here, I haven’t posted in a while, hope everyone is enjoying this pretty spring. I want to share a tale of wonder that is such a gift in my life. It is truly inspirational. I recently now live alone and am pretty lousy about asking for help. For the last two weeks,  I had felt like death warmed over and was in bed for a few days, only getting up to care for the animals.

Princesses at AmberSky

Sparkle, magic, song and dance light up AmberSky. From Cinderella to the Frozen sisters, each girl has a special twinkle in their eyes. Sparkle, magic, song and dance light up AmberSky. From Cinderella to the Frozen sisters, each girl has a special twinkle in their eyes. Read the full blog at:

Parrots call “Fire!” Dorene Olson is skeptical

This is a raging story on two Amazon parrots who apparently called 911 and said:  “Help!   Fire!” and were subsequently rescued from a burning house. I have worked with parrots since 1991 when I worked for 11 years at an avian and exotic vet clinic as a vet tech and animal behaviourist. I started from scratch – had NO experience with birds what-so-ever, my mother had a “thing” about animals in cages and I was never exposed to them. When I started at the clinic, I developed a first-time, massive allergic reaction to them, headaches, breaking out in hives, face, neck and hands burning and turning red, but eventually I overcame that, for some strange reason.

Report praises county’s “fragmented” cities, calls for “carrots, sticks” to encourage inter-city partnerships

A state-commissioned report by a coalition of universities praises St. Louis County’s system of multiple municipalities as efficient, responsive, and resistant to the corrupting influence of special interests. Instead of municipal mergers, the report suggests Missouri attempt to enhance the efficiency of local governmental by encouraging “inter-city partnerships” for purchasing or infrastructure development. The report – “Best Practices: An Overview of Current Policies and Strategies for Improving Municipal Efficiencies,” by Mark Tranel, director of the University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL) Public Policy Research Center (PPRC), and research assistant Bradley DiMariano – appears to mark a major victory for opponents of a much publicized effort to merge the City of St.

Turkey helps out buddy (another turkey) with vision problems

Hello everybody, I hope that everyone had a nice holiday weekend with friends and family. Three years ago I added two, 12-hours-old turkey poults (baby turkey) to my established miniature chicken flock. One is named Cricket, she is a Royal Palm, and the other was Bleu Belle, who was a Spanish Black that sadly succumbed to an incurable paralysis brought about by egg laying when she was two. I belong to a Rare Heritage Turkey email list. My girls were/are both called “rare heritage”, meaning that their numbers are low and some even verge on extinction and hearken back to the primitive breeds that our fore founders brought with them and/or developed.

Please don’t abandon Easter ducklings, goslings, chicks

Hello everybody, and happy Easter. Recently I wrote about my Pekin duck, Peacy, and his adopted brother, Onyx, a Cayuga. Well, they were both “Easter Casualties” – ducklings bought on impulse at feed stores and later discarded in parks to fend for themselves, which is always – not sometimes – but ALWAYS deadly. I know Kim from the Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, and her passion is her waterfowl rescue organization.  Her organization, like any non-profit animal rescue group, is constantly seeking donations for vet bills, feed, bedding, shelter costs, etc.  I am including her April Newsletter here because there is a fun contest that she has going on with duck or geese photos in different categories.  Winners get fun ribbons, and people like you and me can help sponsor not only the contest but also the rescue by donating towards the cost of the ribbons. By the way, Kim has written a one-of-a-kind book on owning and caring for pet ducks, and all their special needs.  I have done waterfowl rescue since 1989, and have have personally housed as many as 72 at one time in my suburban Creve Coeur house (how many ways can you spell labour of love???), but I currently have no waterfowl, just two Bantam chickens, and I miss those webby feetsies.  So if any of you have waterfowl, or even just an interest, I would highly recommend this book.

The Importance of Voting

Louise Charboneau is Ward 3 aldermanic candidate, Steve Lochmoeller’s campaign treasurer. Thank you to Doug Miner (40 South News editor) for the opportunity to issue a last reminder of the importance of citizen participation in the electoral process—the foundation and strength of our country’s government “by the people.” Recently President Obama floated the notion that “It would be transformative if everybody voted—that would counteract money more than anything.” Thirteen countries currently enforce compulsory voting, including Argentina, Australia, and Brazil. ( See Wikipedia: compulsory voting.)

I’ve attached the page on absentee voting from the St.

Bread at its Finest

When we walked in the door of Great Harvest Bread Company at 7 a.m. the air was filled with a crisp mouth watering scent of fresh cinnamon bread right out of the oven. In the hour that we spent watching these bread makers weigh 30 pounds of dough, knead, mix, dip in toppings and bake it was absolutely amazing! Last week I had the opportunity to photograph a wonderful local Maplewood company with my intern, James, from MRH.  Being a business owner myself, I love being able to talk with other business owners and learn about their business.  This local business just happened to be filled with wonderful smells, great tastes, and wonderful staff. Read the full blog at:

Judging You, Judging Me

It’s not what you think. I couldn’t care less if your baby wears disposable diapers or if woven wraps just aren’t for you. Really. Why am I judging? Because I assume you’re judging me.

The goose management dog that became a therapy dog

To follow up on the picture in a previous post, I am Dorene, former owner of Merlyn. He came from New Orleans and I picked him up in Tennessee. Had I been able to see him before purchasing him, I would have passed on the deal, as he was a young dog trained by the good ol’ boys, shock collar around neck and another one around waist. He went thru Katrina on a chain that could have anchored an ocean liner and subsequently is completely off the charts phobic of loud noises, which in general is a Border Collie thing, anyway. He was a complete waste of $3,000 as he was not trained in herding at all, and ran at the slightest sound—dumpster lids going, cars back firing, especially thunder.

Birthday Time!!

BIRTHDAY TIME! From a bright background to a child with a bright personality or our pink and purple snowflake princess;

BIRTHDAY TIME!! Our creativity explodes when we customize the birthday shoots to certain colors or themes our clients ask for. From a bright background to a child with a bright personality or our pink and purple snowflake princess; we get inspired to make each birthday shoot unique. Read the full blog at:

Written by McKaela Tinker

Chicken Effing Nuggets

“My kids will eat what they’re given. I will not tolerate them being as picky as I was. If they don’t have another choice, they’ll eventually eat. Toddler pickiness is a result of parents giving in to their every whim.”

I just want to pat my old self on the head and say,

“Oh, honey.”. You know how before you had kids, you pretty much knew what you were going to do, and you DEFINITELY knew what you weren’t going to do?

Thanksgiving Dos and Don’ts from the APA

The smells of Thanksgiving will be in many houses this Thursday, and people aren’t the only ones to find those savory scents irresistible. Pets are also looking to partake in the festive holiday feast, but many foods may not be the best idea to feed Fido. Follow these tips for keeping the holiday healthy and happy for everyone, including furry friends. Foods for sharing

Cooked pumpkin and sweet potato – Seasonal squash is often included in many canned dog foods and dog biscuits. It’s nutritious and delicious!