IMG_9932 (800x533)It all started with a dog. Back in the ’90s, Craig Hawkins and his partner, David Sample, moved into their home in
Oakhurst, where at the time there were wild dogs running around the neighborhood. A group of them had puppies. Hawkins, 50, and Sample, 51, rescued two and kept one, which has since passed away.

And then around 2005 began “the other stuff” as Hawkins describes it. “The other stuff” now includes a cat, two dogs, a bunny, three chick- ens, a macaw, a squirrel and two peacocks.

“This is mostly David’s doing, which is … fine,” laughs Hawkins as he gives a tour of the various creatures scattered about their stylish home and yard.

The first to greet visitors from the front porch is Seamus the squirrel. Hawkins and Sample were walking past the East Lake MARTA station one day last year and she was clinging to a fence, barely moving and looking like she was close to dying.

IMG_9938They took her off the fence and put her in a tree they had seen a squirrel’s nest in, hoping she would move in. After lunch they came back by and she hadn’t moved, so they brought her home and nursed her back to health by feeding her puppy formula out of a syringe.

They thought she was a boy; hence, Seamus, who in her spare time likes to hang out in the trees in the front yard.

“She’ll be in a tree and we’ll go out there and call her and she’ll come down,” says Hawkins. “She’s completely tame.”

Inside the house there’s the cat, Ichi, and the two Australian shepherds, Ozzie and Trixie, who are very cute. But it gets really interesting in the backyard.

Mario the macaw is a beautiful, head-bobbing, blue-tailed bird who greets all with a chipper “Hello.” He’s got an extensive vocabulary, can identify apples by taste and frequently barks out “I want a nut” because he knows he’ll get a Brazil nut. He can even feed the other animals.

“He’ll call the dogs and throw food out on the ground,” Hawkins explains.

IMG_9919 (800x533)The bunny, named Lady, is a friendly little fur ball in a cage who had a health scare recently but has gained back lost weight and is on the mend. And roaming the grounds in a pack are three chickens, who provide eggs for the couple when Ozzie isn’t stealing them.

But the main attractions are the two peacocks, which the couple have had for seven years. The male, Sora, has a stunning plume and his partner is the female Kyree, who at press time was calmly sitting on an egg, waiting for it to hatch any day.

When it does, the Hawkins-Sample clan will add yet another rare, friendly member to the brood.

This story is part of our Pets Issue, on newsstands and online now. | @patricksaunders

Photos by Patrick Saunders

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