It’s a collection of tales – or more aptly “tails” that will surely warm the hearts of all those who love animals. Kelly Meister, of Walbridge, has compiled a collection of stories from her 12 years rescuing and caring for critters in her first book, “Crazy Critter Lady.”
Meister has made it her life’s mission to rescue and care for critters of all kinds – stray cats, lost frogs, injured squirrels, and her “pet project” – a population of ducks that live on the Three Meadows Pond in Perrysburg.
Her healing efforts have benefited her as much as the creatures she’s nurtured, she says. A victim of childhood sexual abuse, she spent years mired in a life of darkness and chaos. Therapy helped some. “The more time I spent with shrinks, the saner I got,” she says. “The saner I got, the less inclined I was to spend my time with dysfunctional humans.
|Kelly Meister with her donkey friend “Belle,” who
recently passed away, has published a “critter-
sweet” compilation of stories about animals that
have touched her life.
“When you come from an abusive family, you don’t know anything about unconditional love,” she said. “That’s the one thing animals are really good at. They will love you no matter what. As long as you treat them well, they will be your devoted friends for life.”
In “Crazy Critter Lady,” Meister gives a frank, heart-wrenching and sometimes irreverent account of her encounters with a quirky cast of characters – “the gang” of ducks in Perrysburg (Whoville in the book); William Wallace “Winkie” the cat, whom Meister taught to walk on a leash; Zoe the barking dog; Froggy the frog and more.
A chapter titled “One of God’s Own” details Meister’s Saturday-morning encounter with a raccoon she saw sitting on its haunches at the side of the road. After pulling over and trying unsuccessfully to snatch up the animal with a shovel she keeps in the trunk of her car, she retreated to her home to get a laundry basket and an afghan, gingerly picked the raccoon up and raced to get help.
“There was no question the raccoon needed to euthanized – the sooner the better,” she writes. “I’d seen enough animals in shock to know that he was, too, and the fact that he hadn’t defended himself against me merely served to underscore the severity of his condition.”
She details her frustration when going from veterinarian to veterinarian, being referred to other vet practices, an animal rescue nursery and park rangers. Seeing Meister’s obvious distress and desperation, a tech at one veterinary office agreed to end the raccoon’s suffering.
“In the midst of all those tears I shed, I said a prayer – wailed a prayer – to the Gods to please tell that poor raccoon that in his life, there was one person who loved him, even if it was only in his final hour,” Meister writes. As for the shovel in her trunk – Meister keeps it there to remove what seems like more and more animals meeting gruesome and untimely deaths on area roads, she said. A dirty job but one she does willingly.
A storyteller by nature, Meister began by detailing her animal adventures by putting pen to paper – a process that often brought tears to her eyes. It was a labor of love, though at times she had to force herself to spend time transcribing her handwritten stories over a cantankerous computer, rather than riding her horse, or working in the garden.
While animals are her passion – she spends her spare time taking riding lessons, volunteering at The Healing Barn in Millbury and caring for her pets – she’s also a photographer and potter, creating one-of-a-kind ceramic vases that she donates to animal charities for fundraising purposes.
She has also started writing her second book, yet untitled. Does she mind being called the “Crazy Critter Lady?” Not even a little bit.
“They’ve (critters) helped by being patient, loving and trusting and they’ve taught me how to be the same,” she writes. “And for those gifts, I owe them. I owe them big. It’s a debt that I’m happy to spend the rest of my days repaying.”
For that reason, she’s committed to keep chatting with chipmunks, helping injured raccoons and shooing squirrels off the road. “If that makes me crazy, so be it”
“Crazy Critter Lady” is at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com in both print and e-book formats. The book may also be purchased at smashwords.com.
Those who would like to help in her mission in caring for the ducks she’s taken under her wing, may contribute to a fund that has been established at the Perrysburg Luckey Farmers store. Call 419-874-3525 or stop in at 11330 Avenue Rd. (SR 795) and buy a bag of cracked corn, which Meister will pick up as needed. “I do not feed the wild mallards– they can fend for themselves,” she said. “This is strictly to feed the flightless domestic ducks who were abandoned at the pond.”