The Traveling Circus

“What’s going on?” I wondered aloud.

“You’re moving,” Sam One said, as if it were no big deal. The place was full of boxes. The books had disappeared from the shelves. The table where Mom worked—well, where she talked on the phone, anyway—was bare. Even the counter in the bathroom was missing the usual necessities…and it was no big deal? It seemed like a very big deal to me. The last time I saw so many boxes stacked up, I was in one of them.

“Humans move all the time,” Sam One went on to explain, “and these humans more than most. Don’t ask me why. I suspect they’re gypsies.”

“I’m a bird of habit,” I lamented. “I dislike change. How did I end up in a traveling circus?”

moving 1“Would you rather be with another family?” Sam One asked.

“No, of course not!”

“Then shut up and quit complaining,” he told me.

I felt pretty stupid at that moment. “I wonder where we’re going?”

“I’ll be glad when it’s all over,” Schatzi grumbled as she came into the room. “I hate moving.”

I looked at Sam One. “See? I’m not the only one.”

“Be happy you all have a home,” Sam One reminded us. “Not all creatures do. There are far too many dogs, cats and even birds out there cold and hungry, with no place to call home.”

“I still hate it,” Schatzi maintained.

Iggy looked at her. “You hate it?” she asked. “I’m the one who gets fed tranquilizers in my food and hauled out in a trailer.”

“Maybe if you were smaller….” Schatzi suggested.

“I’m a pig!” Iggy snapped. “I’m never going to be a skinny mini! Anyway, who are you to talk? You’re fatter than you should be!”

“It’s hormonal,” Schatzi said.

“Yeah. Keep telling yourself that, Bubblebutt.”

“How many times are we going to move, anyway?” I wondered as we watched Mom and Grandma packing boxes.

“I dunno,” Sam One said. “She moved several times when I was alive, too. The important thing isn’t where you live, but that you’re all together.”

He was right…but the frequent moves would still prove frustrating.

“I heard Mom say there’s someone coming,” Iggy said. “A building inspector, or something like that.”

“What’s a building inspector?” I asked.

“Don’t know,” Iggy grumbled, “but as long as he leaves me alone, I’ll leave him alone.”

No such luck.

The man came the next day, checking things that made no sense to any of us. When he came into the bedroom, I figured there was going to be trouble. He didn’t realize what a mistake he was making when he stepped on Iggy’s blanket. For a pig of her, uh, size, she can move pretty fast when she feels threatened.

She went on the attack…and he ran!

*****

Later, I heard Mom telling Grandma about a conversation she’d had with someone connected to the building inspector: “He said he thought the inspector had been drinking. The guy told him he’d been attacked by a three-hundred-pound hog in the bedroom!”

Iggy was insulted. “Three hundred pounds? He needs his eyes examined—and his head, too, while he’s at it!”

moving 2“You could stand to lose a little around the ham hocks,” Schatzi laughed.

“Bite me, Bubblebutt!” Iggy snapped.

Schatzi almost did. “Just remember, I bite back,” Iggy warned.

“You have no sense of humor,” Schatzi grumbled, backing off.

“Not true. I happen to be a very funny pig,” Iggy insisted.

“Funny looking, yeah.”

“Break it up, you two,” Sandy said, waddling into the room. “I was trying to sleep.”

“She’s Not Mean…She Just Looks That Way….”

Schatzi came to our family via a yard sale. No joke.

Grandma spent her Wednesdays checking out the yard and garage sales in the area. She and Grandpa used to go together—Mom said Grandpa waited for the weekly paper with all the listings like a dog waiting for a bone. He’d mark all the ads that sounded worthwhile, and early Wednesday morning, off they’d go.

Schatzi 1991 (5) - CopyI’ve never been able to figure out why the Wednesday edition was always delivered on Tuesday nights. Humans—go figure!

Anyway, Grandma eventually went back to her Wednesday routine alone. One day, she came home all excited. At one of the sales, she’d found a black German shepherd, free for a good home.

“Why didn’t you take her?” Mom asked. Grandma used to raise German shepherds for show and had long wanted another one—just as a pet.

Grandma looked surprised. “I didn’t know if you’d be okay with it—”

Now it was Mom’s turn to be surprised. “When have you ever cared what I thought about anything?” she wanted to know.

After dinner, they returned to the scene of the crime—I mean the yard sale—and brought home yet another addition to our family. I didn’t meet her right away. Grandma wasn’t sure she and Sandy would get along, so the new dog on the block was confined to the back yard with a brand-new doghouse.

I was curious. “I wonder what she’s like?”

“Big dog, big appetite,” Sam One said. “For her, you’d just be a tasty little nugget.”

Not an image I wanted to have stuck in my head….

*****

Being part of a large, diverse family of creatures was never dull—ever. I had a lot of adopted siblings. But it was Sam One who was most like a true brother to me—not because he was a fellow avian, but because we had a connection that went beyond blood, beyond family. We shared a bond I can’t put into words.

Sam 1 picWhen Mom first saw me in the pet shop, she thought the bird she’d lost years ago had come back to her. I guess in a way, that’s true. He was always with me, and through me, he had come back to her.

“How long had you been—away—from Mom before we met?” I asked him one night.

“Eleven years,” he said. “I’d look in on her from time to time. I knew she missed me. She always wondered where I ended up. She still does.”

“And you don’t remember?”

He shook his head. “No. If I were supposed to know, I would, but….”

“You’ve missed her all these years.”

“Yes,” he said sadly. “I wish I could let her know I’m here.”

“I think she knows.”