Animal Encounters of a Different Kind

Kelly Maida

© Copyright 2022 by Kelly Maida

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
 Photo courtesy of Pixabay.                         

When I was a child,  my parents had a camp in old forge, New York. We saw a lot of wildlife up close!  My parents would take me and my cousins to the dump to see the bears. We would watch the bears eat through the trash. It was actually fun and a little scary at times. Especially when the bears would notice us watching them and run towards us. We always wore sneakers so that we could run fast to our cars. Thinking back now it sounds a little crazy to write about it. But as a kid when it was happening it was exciting. We also had bears that would go through our trash cans at camp. Every now and then we would see a bear at our campsite but that was rare and they usually didnít stick around long. I also remember we took apples with us and go for rides and see deer. Sometimes the deer would stop and we would feed the deer apples. I got really lucky one time and I was able to feed a deer out of my hands. Iíll never forget that day because I love animals.

 When I was in my twenties I moved to Tampa, Fl for a few years.  I had a neighbor that worked at Busch gardens. He gave me a free full year pass for Busch gardens. I started going to Busch gardens almost every weekend. One weekend I took my daughter Kaleigh with me to the dolphin show. They asked for a volunteer to raise their hand. Of course I raised my hand! I got picked and I was so excited! I got to pet a dolphin! It was the very first time I ever did that! I smiled for days after that!  I love dolphins and it was so sweet and friendly! After that we took a few boat tours that were in Clearwater and at St. Petersburg Florida and we would watch how the dolphins would follow the boat! Dolphins are so playful and sweet. My daughter and I were always on the lookout for dolphins. Even when we went to the ocean to swim we would keep a look out for them. It was always so much fun when we would see dolphins in the water. Another not so fun encounter that we had when we lived in Florida was with a gator. We lived at an apartment complex and we had a lake that had ducks. My daughter Kaleigh and I love feeding ducks. We actually did it quite often. We usually would take a walk after dinner and feed the ducks. Well one day really took us by surprise. We were feeding the ducks and to my left all of a sudden, a gator emerged from the water and chased us. It was not big.  It looked like a baby gator but it was bigger than a dog and it scared me and I was not sticking around to see it. I quickly grabbed my daughter first and put in her in my arms and ran as fast as I could. We were both fine. However, we stopped feeding the ducks at that lake after that. Not long after that happened,  I worked as a leasing agent. I worked at an apartment complex that was built on a swamp. Every day I had to take people on tours of the apartments. Gators would swim past me every day. I eventually got used to it. However, at first I have to admit i was very anxious. Luckily none of the gators chased me while I was showing apartments. That would have been embarrassing.
Shortly after moving from Florida, we moved to Georgia. One weekend we decided to take a trip to Hilton Head in South Carolina. It was a beautiful place. I was with my ex and my daughter Kaleigh. We first went to a restaurant. We had gator tail for the first time. It was pretty good. Then the next day we went to the beach. We were walking along the beach collecting shells. We found beautiful sand dollars. And to our surprise a man was yelling that he caught a shark. It was so cute. It was a baby shark. We asked the man if we could hold it and he let me and my daughter Kaleigh hold it. Kaleigh was only 4 years old at the time. She was so excited. Of all of my encounters that I have been through with animals the picture with a baby shark is the only one that I have. My daughter Kaleigh went to Louisiana last year and went on a swamp tour and took a pic with a baby gator. And I was not there for that encounter but it reminded me of our encounter with a shark.

I have one last encounter with an animal that still stands out to me this day. This next story took place in Georgia! We lived in Georgia for a few years. My daughter Kaleigh and I would go to feed the ducks in Duluth. This time it was a small pond with no gators.  We tried to go there when I got out of work or on the weekends.  We always noticed one beautiful white duck that honked a lot at us. We called it Honky! Itís so funny that every time we went to feed the ducks that Honky always came right over to us. Honky stood out from the crowd. We always knew where to find him. Or maybe he just knew where to find us. But every single time we fed the ducks there was this shiny white duck that always talked. He stood out because the way he honked was as if he was trying to talk to us.  One night Honky followed us to our car. I felt so sad that we made a connection with this duck and now we had to part. Honky literally walked all the way from the pond to our car.  I am not sure how far away my car was but it was not a short distance. I made a very impulsive decision that night. i  picked up Honky and it let me. It was a really sweet duck. I put Honky in the car with us. As I started to drive away my daughter Kaleigh started crying. She said she did not want us to have the duck. She said the kids would laugh at her at school. That is when common sense had kicked in to me. I thought to myself It would not be fair to my daughter or Honky.  So, I reluctantly parted with sweet Honky the duck. I sometimes still wonder about him. I wonder if he ever thinks about me? Animals are very smart like that. 

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