Gary and I married in 1960. He had a lot of experience with wildlife even then . Before our first anniversary, we had fostered a capuchin monkey, an armadillo, a beautiful black indigo snake and a number of other reptiles who regularly seem to find their way into our home.
A sign of things to come.
When he joined the staff at the Alexander Lindsay Junior Museum, his Rehabilitation and Release team started to flourish, and our home became Nursery and Intensive Care for orphaned and injured wildlife.
One bathroom typically housed one or more creatures. There was a continuing stream of native birds, mammals, and reptiles who needed our help. Our son Jeff was usually the very first one to check out what Dad had in the box.
In those early years, Gary’s Contra Costa Times Newspaper column was titled It’s a Wild Life and indeed it was! You name it, it came home with Gary.
Daughter Corey, Jeff and I all helped Gary with emergencies, TLC, feeding, and daily cleaning. We didn’t dust the ceilings. Corey remembers that “we were not allowed to disturb the Daddy Long Legs, as they had good work to do.”
Our household pets seemed to understand what they could play with and what was off-limits. We learned it was best not to get too attached to the wildlife “visitors” but of course, all were a part of our lives.
John, a fledgling barn owl, learned to fly in the house. Top of the refrigerator, around the corner, buzz the sleeping cat, cock his head, jump on the piano keys, then on to the top of the 7-ft. bookcase and back again. One pass we heard “SQUAWK!” WHAT? We raced around to find John on the top of the refrigerator with red goo? dripping from both feet. No worry, John had just “killed” the spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. He was fine and we ordered pizza.
There was the day our gentle black and white king snake meandered through the corner of the hallway during a baby shower right behind me. Luckily, the whole group was facing the guest of honor. I handed Gary a pillowcase and he quietly bagged the snake. No one was the wiser. Catastrophe averted!
Sam, the house cat, helped to raise Sioux, the baby mountain lion. Sioux came to us a tiny bottle-fed zoo baby who sucked my thumb and slept in a recycled incubator for the first month of his life. I was “mom”. Later Sam took over. Gary would find them curled up on the couch in the morning. They wrestled together as siblings do until there was a bit too many tuffs of cat fir and Sioux needed his own space.
There’s delightful text in the Contra Costa Living Section of the Times Sunday Magazine dated May 6, 1973. “When three orphaned black bear cubs arrived at the Museum, museum curator Gary Bogue decided to invite them home for dinner. After all, he was going to have to feed them anyway. And wife Barbara wouldn’t mind, and the kids would love it…. “
Very true indeed, but there’s more to the story. The afternoon the bears arrived I was teaching a piano workshop for a few of my students. Oh well, so much for the workshop, bears are much more exciting.
Cute little things. Less than 10 pounds, passive and starving. We put them in the bathtub and tucked them in. Never underestimate a baby bear! Within two days those bears climbed out of the tub, somehow found a way to turn on the taps, so the room was full of steam before we heard them. Visualize two 10 lb bears skidding around on the floor all claws and teeth. The third standing IN the toilet, all the paper off the roll and everywhere, fast becoming paper mâché. It took both of us to corral and cage them before clean up could begin. No serious injuries. Where’s my camera when I need it? Missed that shot, but they ended up in the newspaper anyway.
Amorak the arctic wolf pup eventually found a home as alpha in the Wolf Woods compound at the San Francisco Zoo. At home,“Macky” was much like any other puppy and a family favorite as we all enjoyed playing with him. And then, he grew. One day I found he could stand on his back legs high enough to reach the frozen chicken thawing on top of the refrigerator. Foolishly, I thought our dinner was safe, but not quite high enough.
So many memories.
It was exciting when critters were able to be released and incredibly sad each time one didn’t make it. We treasured the moments when releases were successful.
As a family, we wouldn’t have had it any other way. Thank you, Gary.