Whoa. Dogs, Cats, Birds, Ferrets, Snakes & Miniature Horses at the Museum

Rosco in 2006 prior to his adoption.

Rosco in 2006 prior to his adoption.

Remember Joey from Gimme a Break, with his catch phrase, “Whoa”? That pretty much describes my thoughts on Scales & Tails Fest this year. This is the fourth year for the program and it will no doubt be the biggest, best year yet! In fact, I’ve had such a great response that I’ve run out of room and many groups are bringing their own tables just so they can participate. It is truly a labor of love because the rescue groups and animal organizations are such hard-working, dedicated people who do whatever needs to be done to find happy homes for their critters and it is a pleasure working with them.

Rosco with his happy family.

Rosco with his happy family.

I personally love the giant rocking horses and the miniature horses, and of course the dogs, cats, ferrets, snakes and birds – well okay, I pretty much love everything about the event. In fact, during the inaugural event, I adopted my own awesome dog – Rosco!

Alissa Madden of Northside Animal Hospital takes a moment to enjoy a giant rocking horse during Scales & Tails 2008.

Alissa Madden of Northside Animal Hospital takes a moment to enjoy a giant rocking horse during Scales & Tails 2008.

While we will be working hard to get everything set up bright and early that morning, we will watch as participants from Indiana Task Force 1, Indianapolis Animal Care & Control, Indy Dog and Disc, Great Dane Rescue, Indy Pit Crew, Hoosier Herp Society, Indiana Horse Council, Hoosier Herpetological Society, Exotic Animal Rescue Pet Sanctuary, Ferret Rescue & Halfway House, Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators and so many more I can’t even mention them all for fear of exceeding my word limit (but you can check out a complete list here).

So if you’re in the market for just about any kind of pet or if you know someone who is, stop by and check out the event. If you don’t need a pet you can always come to watch dog agility, learn about wildlife rehabilitation, ride a giant rocking horse, hold a snake or watch baby chicks hatch.

Of course, the most amazing thing about the day is how we will transform this huge animal-filled event into a beautiful, clean and shiny, critter-free wedding reception that evening. Whoa.


On my way to work I spotted these Wild Turkeys in a neighbor’s yard. The ‘tom’ seemed oblivious as I pulled in the drive to take a picture. And the hen seemed just as oblivious of the tom. Maybe she hoped if she ignored him he would just go away.


Their breeding season begins in March, but it seemed like he wanted an extension. I’ve heard that Benjamin Franklin nominated the Wild Turkey for our national symbol, but the eagle won out. The Bald Eagle is impressive, but I imagine the turkey was more helpful in ensuring the survival of the early American settlers.

They were so important to early Hoosiers, that like the white-tailed deer, turkeys were extirpated from the state by the early 1900s. Poor planning, I guess. And perhaps proof that the ‘Good Old Days’ belong to no particular decade or century. For all the benefits of Selma Steele’s time, it’s very unlikely that she would have enjoyed the sight of Wild Turkeys in her Brown County backyard.

In the early 1930s, the Indiana Department of Conservation tried to bring Wild Turkeys back home again to Indiana — Brown County being one location. Although this attempt failed, they were later successfully reintroduced by the Indiana Department of Fish and Wildlife. Indiana Ruffed Grouse were traded for Wild turkeys from Missouri, and this time it ‘took’.

I remember the first time I saw Wild Turkeys. I was working at a construction site across the highway from Brown County State Park. I don’t know if they were disturbed by the crew’s arrival or if they were ready to leave anyway, but suddenly four or five large objects noisily took off from nearby roosts. I’m sure I was more surprised than they were.

When looked at aerodynamically, bumblebees aren’t supposed to be able to fly. When Wild Turkeys fly, they look like they’ll crash and burn — it’s almost embarrassing to watch. In 1820, Audubon observed turkeys crossing the Ohio river from the Indiana side. Several didn’t make it and were drowned. I wonder if they were just showing off.

Davie Kean is the master gardener at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.