Tabitha was already twelve weeks old and a foot high; about the size of a chicken. Her neck was long, like her snout. She had dark yellow color with brown to black spots like a banana that was four days past ripe. Her skin was scaled and dry, but already thick. And her feathers, which started only on her arms and legs, were creeping up to her little belly and throughout her back. Her eyes were black.
“She’s so light. How much does she weigh?” Keegan asked.
“Six point four pounds. We presume she is fully grown,” Dr. Parker smiled, “She’s the runt of the litter.”
Keegan nuzzled his forehead against hers and kissed her long snout. “You are just the cutest little runt of the litter, aren’t you?”
She nibbled his nose but it didn’t hurt. “That’s a funny girl,” Keegan said. “You’re a little biter, aren’t you?”
“Her breed will bite. But don’t worry, she won’t have teeth.”
“Herbivores don’t really need them; her diet is all veggies. So she may be a heart-breaker but she certainly isn’t dangerous,” Parker chuckled, “But don’t underestimate her appetite – she can eat 25% of her body weight, easy, in one sitting.”
“A couple pounds of lettuce is a lot. You’re just a hungry little dinosaur aren’t you?” Keegan said, patting her little head as she gnawed on his ear.
He held her up to get a closer look at her whitish belly. Tabitha shrieked and kicked with her three clawed foot that looked like that of a bird. Keegan quickly apologized and pulled her close. “Sorry little girl.”
“She likes being held close to the body.”
“Because it’s like her mother?”
“Well, genetically speaking, yes. But she never met her mother, sadly. That’s why we spend so much time nurturing them in here,” said Parker.
Dee Parker, the mid-thirties veterinarian with Forever Home San Diego, had bright red hair and red lipstick. She chose to go with grey Toms, jeans, and a blouse, instead of the traditional white coat. Parker started Forever Home because of the growing concerns of mistreatment of the beautiful Cretaceous creatures. She was staunchly against having dinosaurs as pets and made it her life’s work to find loving homes for the abused and homeless animals. “Why bring these magnificent creatures back if we are going to subject them to a life of captivity, abuse, and general cruelty?” she would often say.
Forever Home had become the most reputable re-homing service for exotic pets in all of Southern California and perhaps the whole country. Dee had 14 animals in her care, at the moment. And she was fully dedicated to her business, which she ran out of her home. She employed two ex-Navy Seals to protect her house and her investment. Even though they have become mainstream, dinosaurs aren’t cheap.
Keegan played with Tabitha in a room that was about the size of a normal bedroom. It was decorated with a large mural of dinosaurs and mammoths drinking from a pond, trees, blue skies, and a lush green landscape. It was a little boy’s dream room. But it was also quite comforting for an adult. Dee brought the animals in this room when they needed some alone time and TLC. Or, to introduce them to a perspective ‘forever family’.
After a minute of getting her belly rubbed, Tabitha grew restless and jumped out of Keegan’s arms. She sprung from the ground to a shelf about three feet of the ground in a single bound.
“Whoa, she can really move.”
Laughing, Dee said “She is actually quite calm but when she’s tired she can get a little ornery. Come here, Tabby.”
Tabby jumped again, then sprinted by Dee and Keegan and grabbed a blanked that was on the ground and ripped at it like a carnivore would a carcas. She shrieked with it in her mouth and shook it back in forth, shaking the life out of the poor blanket. The room got quiet. You see videos of these animals on YouTube everyday but when you encounter one, an aggressive one, even if they are harmless, one can be taken back a little. Tabitha dropped the blanked and ran at Keegan. She jumped against his chest and using is like a trampoline, sprung to the ground and then sprinted around both of them, counter-clockwise, like they were the infield at Daytona.
Finally, Tabby stopped, took a deep breath and walked to her water bowl for a drink. Though water was splashing everywhere, it may have been the cutest thing Keegan had ever seen. Until she decided it was time for a nap, that is. Tabby, exhausted, just fell to the ground. Dee walked over, picked her up, and put her in his cradled arms so he could hold her and gently rub her little, white, scaled belly. Within seconds, Tabitha the dinosaur was fast asleep.
Dee smiled, knowingly. Keegan may not have known it yet but he just adopted a Gasparinisaura.