Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

Of Mouse and Man

Written by on March 24, 2013 No Comments

One evening recently I went to the bottom of my basement stairs to move some laundry when I found a baby mouse on the floor.  Now, you might wonder, as I did, why there was a baby mouse on the floor, but that was only after I wondered if he was alive.  I called Mark, who came bounding down the stairs, picked the little mouse baby up and announced that it was alive, but barely.  We took a moment to poke around the basement to see if there were any other babies and found one more lying on its side under some empty corn bags, dead.  Later, we found a mouse nest inside of an old pair of Mark’s waders.

At the time, though, there was a baby mouse to take care of.  Mark got a drop of water on his finger and watched the baby drink.  He said that she needed some milk, and that our milk wasn’t as good for it as canned milk, preferably with vitamins in it.  You’ll find it a Meijer in the baby food section, he said.

While I ran off to Meijer to pick up $15 worth of supplies for a mouse who refused to tell me what it preferred to drink, Mark gave the wee mouse a drink using a little eye dropper.  

Baby mouse getting milk off an eye dropper.

Baby mouse getting milk off an eye dropper.

 Mark also gave the mouse a Cheerio and held the little thing in his hands to keep it warm.  And unfortunately for me, he also looked for information online about baby mice, because when I returned with my bag of goodies, he shooed me back out the door to pick up KMR kitten formula, which was recommended on some web site about mice.

I returned with powdered kitten formula, added some of the powdery stuff to some water and handed the mixture to Mark.  He used a paint brush to feed the mouse because he said it was better than the eye dropper.

Mouse taking milk off a paintbrush.

Mouse taking milk off a paintbrush.

I found the little thing so cute I had to include the above photo zoomed in a bit more. 

Close-up shows a drop of milk on the little  mouse's nose.

Close-up shows a drop of milk on the little mouse’s nose.

Once the little mouse was fed, I dug out one of a half dozen empty aquariums in our garage and added a hot rock–a plastic rock-shaped gadget that you plug in to create a type of hot pad for mice and the like.  We also added some of the mouse nesting materials we found in the basement and a milk jug cap with some oatmeal mixed with kitten milk. 

Mouse with the milk cap of milk and oatmeal in the foreground.

Mouse with the milk cap in the foreground.

Mark fed the little mouse several times before he went to bed at 11 p.m., and at one point, the little mouse wobbled around inside the aquarium for a bit before disappearing inside the mouse nest.  Mark got up at 3 a.m. to feed the mouse again, and he said all signs were good that the little fella would make it.  But at 6 a.m., our little mouse pal had a faraway look in his eyes as if he wasn’t so sure about things.  We tried feeding him again but he suddenly seemed too weak.  Sadly, he died later that morning.  Mark buried him in the yard with our household pets.

While the baby mouse was fighting for its life, our last ferret, Chip, has been fighting for her life as well.  She’s seven years old, and there have been days lately that I wonder what keeps her going.  But what I realized in watching both the mouse’s brief life and Chip’s willingness to continue wobbling about even when I don’t think she can continue on is this:  what’s important in life is making the best of the time we have.  That is true with people, with mice, and with Chip.  See, we knew the odds were against the little mouse, but we did what we could to make his time as good as possible.  And for our old pal, Chip, we will continue to spoil her `til the end.

 

Caring for Pets While We’re on Vacation

Written by on January 29, 2013 No Comments

Pity the poor stepkid that agreed to take care of our critters while Mark and I are on vacation.  Said critters include:  Dusty, a 14-year-old dog that turtles out on the front steps and is constantly hungry; Purrkins, our 8-year-old cat; Chip, our 7-year-old ferret (which is pretty old for a ferret); 9 hamsters; two boisterous mynah birds; and two fish tanks filled with colorful fish.  The stepkid is Arthur and these are his instructions:

By 9:00 a.m. Let Dusty out and back in
  Shut 2 doors behind you, open bird cage
  Open curtains at window
  Check on all hamsters
  Shut both doors behind you
By 9:15 Feed  Dusty
  Feed Purrkins
  Let Dusty out and back in 
  Check on Chip–take her out to play?
Around 11 a.m. Let Dusty out and back in again; give kibbles
Around 2 p.m. Got to bird room.  Shut door behind you.
  Remove big water bowls and latch-on bowls
  Shut bird cage doors
  Clean bowls
  Fill water bowls with osmosis water only
  Shut both cage doors
  Prepare birdies’ food in latch-on bowls
  Put latch-on bowls in cages
  Close cage doors
  Add dry food as needed
  Close cage doors; leave room
  Shut both doors behind you.
Around 4 p.m. Return to bird room.  Open cage doors.
  Wait for bird to go in.  Shut and lock cage doors.
  Shut both doors behind you.
Around 4 p.m. Let Dusty out and back in again; give kibbles
Between 4:30-6 Feed Dusty
  Let Dusty out and back in again
At 6 or 7 Go into bird room.  Pull down blankets. 
  Shut curtains.
  Double check all hamster cages.  Fill bowls.
  Clean any poopy areas after putting hamster
       in balls.  Check water bottles.
  Shut both doors behind you.
  Turn lights on big fish tank.
Around 8 or so Feed fish in both fish tanks.
  Top off Purrkins’ two bowls
  Check on Chip; play if not played with earlier.
  Refresh Chip’s bowls while she’s in the back
     bedroom area. 
  Empty Chip’s poop pan.
  Empty Purrkins’ poop pan.
  Let Dusty out and back in again.
Before 10:00 Let Dusty out and back in again.
  Turn off fish tank light

Oh, and please feed the sea monkeys (brine shrimp) once or twice while we’re gone.  And bring in the mail now and again.  And the trash goes out on Tuesday mornings.  And Dusty would appreciate your shoveling any snow off the front porch.  He also likes daily rub-downs and….  Okay, you’ll do fine.  Oh, and about the outdoor critters we feed….

How I Know I’ve Got the Right Guy

Written by on January 01, 2013 1 Comment

Mark and I are heading to the Amazon in February to go peacock bass fishing, and before Christmas Mark found a guy named Raymond “Dink” Alston who makes Goldrush custom rods.  Amongst Dink’s special rods is a 6’2″ Woodchopper heavy-duty action rod that he recommends for peacock bass fishing.  Per Mark’s request, Dink added a peacock bass, my name, the date, and he did the wraps in green and white.   

My peacock bass rod.

Mark also got me another special present.

Two peas in a pod salt and pepper shaker.

Of course, having seen the fishing rod, I thought the salt and pepper shakers were custom-painted, when in fact Mark took a Sharpie marker and wrote our names on them.  But who does cute things like that?

Mark also didn’t care when Dusty, our 14 1/2 year-old dog, stole his stocking topper.

Dusty with Mark's stocking topper.

And finally, I know Mark’s the right guy for me because he figures out how to make me laugh every holiday.   Not that I laughed when I took the photo below, but I might have shortly before or after.

The four kids and Willi's husband Brian (far right) with their Christmas hats.

So thanks, Mark, for being the right guy with the right ideas year after year.

Hampy Holidays!

Written by on December 24, 2012 No Comments

For all pet lovers out there, hampy holidays!

Pumpkin the hamster and our Happy Holidays train.

 
Enjoy yourself and eat lots and lots.
 

Pumpkin after stuffing her cheeks with pumpkin seeds.

 
 And don’t worry about the little things, like how good you might or might not look.
 

Scrinch letting it all hang out.

Enjoy your family.
 

Peanut and Flip.

 
And your friends.
 

Peanut and Scrinch.

And look forward to 2013 with the enthusiasm of a hampster.
 

Scrinch.

 

When it Rains, it Pours . . . Mynah Birds?

Written by on October 21, 2012 No Comments

I was at work on Tuesday trying to be a good state worker when I got an email from Mark that was rather distracting.  He said that Todd, the nice fella that sent our mynah bird by plane three weeks ago, inadvertently mailed us another mynah bird.  “Mailed?” I asked.  “How do you mail a mynah bird?  And how did he ‘inadvertently’ mail it to us?”

Mark had no answers then and spent the rest of Tuesday trying to find the little mynah bird.  He talked to the Lansing Post Office, the Okemos Post Office, the Haslett Post Office, and to Todd.  Even after making a bunch of calls, Mark and Todd could not redirect the bird and send it back to Florida, or to Alabama which is where the bird was supposed to be delivered.  Todd said he felt horrible, because a trip for the bird to Alabama would have been much shorter than a trip to Michigan. 

Mark and I waited around our house Tuesday night, hoping the Lansing Post Office folks would call to tell us the bird had arrived.  We went to bed wondering if the little bird would survive.

On Wednesday morning, after I got my blood tested, passed out, and was home recovering, Andy, from the Okemos Post, called to tell us the bird had arrived.  We asked Andy if he could tell if the bird was alive–it had been in a container, after all, for 38 hours.  Andy assured us the box was wiggling.

Within 10 minutes, we met Andy.

Andy handing Mark the box the mynah bird was shipped in.
Mark held the container on his lap all the way home.
 

Mark holding the container on his lap.

 
Once home, we went into Little Buddy’s bedroom.  She sat on top of the big flight cage to check things out.
 

Little Buddy checking out the container.

Mark cut open one corner of the strangely-shaped box. . .
 

Mark opening the container.

 . . . and out flew a brown and yellow mynah.

The new bird on a hamster cage.

 
After so many hours in a container with no water and what smelled like some pretty nasty fruit, we thought it best to get the new bird some fresh food and water.  So Mark gently grabbed her and put her in Little Buddy’s cage.  Little Buddy came right over to watch the new guy drink big gulps of water and eat.
 

The new bird inside the cage; Little Buddy on top.

About ten minutes later, the new bird came to the door of the cage and looked around.  Mark brought over a mynah favorite–a dried mealworm–and caught the attention of both birds.
 

Mark with Little Buddy (on the left) and the new bird (right).

Soon the new bird was hopping about the floor.  Then she took her first bath.
 

The new bird taking a bath.

Now, the thing about this bird is that we weren’t expecting it, because if we had, we’d had asked Todd to sent it by airplane like he did Little Buddy because that was faster and less stressful on the bird.  Knowing the new bird had been in a container for 38 hours, we couldn’t bring ourselves to put the little bird back in the container it came in and ship it back to Todd or to the nice folks in Alabama who were expecting it.  Mark checked with Todd and he said he had another baby mynah he could send to the nice folks in Alabama.  We learned they weren’t happy about all this, but we hope they’ll understand that we did what we thought was best for the little bird.
 
We named the new bird BOGO–Buy One, Get One–in spite of the fact that we sent Todd a check for the little bird, and for its lovely ride inside numerous US Postal Service trucks.
 
Mark with Little Buddy on his head (parting his hair?) and a wet BOGO on his shoulder.
 
Surely a bird on the head is worth two in the . . . something.
 

Mynah Bird Likes to Read Books

Written by on September 30, 2012 1 Comment

It took Little Buddy a little over a week to get out and safely back in her cage by herself, and one thing that helped her along was putting a yellow washcloth on the door of the cage to give it a firmer feel.  Once she figured out the yellow wash cloth was safe to land on, we moved the wash cloth onto Mark’ s leg.

Little Buddy on the yellow wash cloth on Mark's leg.

Well, once Little Buddy was comfortable on Mark’s leg, she started checking out the book he was reading.
 

Little Buddy checking out Mark's book.

 
She found his book about 18th Century navy life to be fascinating.
 

Little Buddy reading along with Mark.

 
Little Buddy quickly moved right on to the next page.
 

Little Buddy reading faster than Mark.

 
She even helped Mark turn the pages.
 

Little Buddy helping turn the page.

 
She soon grew impatient with the pace of Mark’s reading.
 

Little Buddy grabbing Mark's book mark.

 
Then she walked off with Mark’s book mark and, with a clumsy flutter of her wings, almost got the book mark inside her cage.
 

Little Buddy walking off with the book mark.

 
In truth, our mynah bird can’t read books.   And Mark hasn’t gotten much reading done in her company, either.  But Mark is sure having a good time with his curious Little Buddy. 
 
Oh, if any of you are looking for a mynah bird of your own, you need look no further than Todd from Milton, Florida.  It’s where Little Buddy came from, and we hear he has a couple more baby mynahs looking for new homes.  Todd loves his birds and he’s called a couple of times to check on Little Buddy and make sure she’s doing whatever mynahs are supposed to do.   Or maybe he’s checking on Mark to make sure Mark’s doing what mynahs like Marks to do.  Hm.   
 

Little Birdie on the Big Plane

Written by on September 19, 2012 2 Comments

While I thought that a dog, a cat, a ferret, some fish and 10 or 11 hamsters was enough to care for and interact with, my husband, Mark, did not.  He wanted a bird.  And in particular, a bird that would sit on his shoulder, talk to him now and again and just pal around.   He looked high and low, north and south, and found a guy in Florida that spends his spare time breeding mynah birds. 

Like every other critter that has come into my house, I knew nothing about mynah birds.  And I knew even less about how to get a small bird from Florida to Michigan.   It turns out that all we had to do was pay the seller for said bird and allow him to make arrangements for the bird to come by airplane.   Then all we had to do is make plans to be at the closest international airport to pick up said bird.  Then we had to wait for a hurricane to blow through Florida.  Then we had to wait another week for the seller to obtain the proper container for shipping said bird in the cargo section of an airplane.  Finally, two weeks later, we went to the airport to pick up said bird.

Mark was so excited about his new pal that we left at 2:30 to pick up a bird whose plane was to land at 5:00 at an airport that was only 1.5 hours away.  That means I had a long time to hang out outside this building. 

Delta Airline's cargo flight parking lot at Detroit Metro.

I also had plenty of time to take photos of the plane the birdie might have come in on.

One of many planes I got to watch come in.

The 5:00 plane the little birdie was on became the 5:30 plane and it was around then that we learned it can take another 1.5 hours for birds to get carried from wherever they land to where Mark and I were hanging out bored to tears.  It was 7 p.m. when a guy finally walked in with a container that looked like what we were waiting for.

The container the little bird came in.

Because Mark was suddenly acting oddly nervous, I bravely peeled back the green mesh that the seller had put in front of the windows and doors.  Inside, I saw something brown and yellowish lying on its side.  I cringed as I told Mark and the clerk behind the counter that I thought the birdie was dead.  As the clerk was responding with, “Well, you’ll have to take that up with…” this thumping noise came from the cage and I heard flapping inside the cage.  I peered back inside and saw the bird in the back.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that the blob in the front turned out to be a very ripe banana the seller had shipped with the birdie. 

Mark smiled as he carried the carrier to the car.

Mark carrying his birdie.

He placed the carrier in the back of the car and we enjoyed about five minutes of quiet before the bird began throwing itself against the side of the cage, flapping, making squawky noises, and slowly making the entire car smell like banana.  I was a bit of a wreck by the time I got home.  Mark, on the other hand, was beaming and said he couldn’t wait to play with his new pal.  

It was 9 p.m. by the time we took the bird to her new home in a spare bedroom.  We held the carrier up to a real bird cage, thinking the birdie would be happy to get out of a small container it’d been in since 11 that morning. 

Mark trying to get the bird into its new home.

The little birdie suddenly stopped flapping around.  After several minutes and a complete standoff on the part of the bird, Mark reached inside the carrier and gently grabbed her.  She squawked and attempted to gnaw on Mark to show her displeasure.

Little birdie trying to show Mark who's boss.

 Amazingly though, in a matter of minutes, the bird settled in to her new home.  She hopped from one perch to the other, found the water bottle, and found the free standing dish of water and took a brief bath.  She also ate some of the 25 pounds of food Mark had purchased.   The next day, she ate fresh fruit, including blueberries, pear pieces and apple bits.  She also snarfed the dried mealworms we’d gotten to attract bluebirds.

Over the course of the next week, the bird’s name morphed from little birdie to Little Buddy.  Mark spends time with her each day, sitting next to her as he reads a book.  She hops right over to the side of the cage to see him and, after a while, sometimes chirps and makes other higher pitched calls. 

Two nights ago, we opened her cage door for the first time and I snapped a couple of photos.

Little Buddy checking out the outside of her cage.

After hopping in and out of the entrance to the cage, she finally built up the nerve to fly around a bit and ended up on top of the cage.

 

Little Buddy about ready to take flight.

It took Little Buddy about 20 minutes to build up the nerve to fly around a bit.  It took us over two hours to get her back inside her cage.  Apparently, we have a lot more to learn about mynahs.  Or at least about Little Buddy.

Farewell to the Special Fuzzy Friend That Picked Me

Written by on August 29, 2012 5 Comments

Back 13 years ago, my criteria for picking out a pal for our male dog, Dusty, was pretty simple–I wanted a female, bijon friese-lhasa apso mix, and she had to lick me to indicate she licked me.  This is the puppy that picked me. 

Little Dipper on the way home from the pet store 13 years ago.

 

 Little Dipper and our first puppy, Dusty, got along from the get-go.

 

Dusty and Little Dipper, 1999.

 

And Little Dipper was also my pal.  She figured out right away that if she wiggled just so, I’d take her for a walk.  It worked every day, including Tuesday, the day she died. 

Little Dipper flying across the snow.

 
Outside, Dipper liked immersing herself in the snow.
 

Little Dipper in the snow.

 
She also loved to swim.
 

Little Dipper in Lake Michigan.

 
And she liked to play on the beach.
 

Little Dipper at the beach.

 
If she got cold after swimming, I was always there to get her warmed up and just be with her.
 

Me and Little Dipper on Lake Michigan during a "pups vacation."

 
Little Dipper was also my traveling pal.  Every time I picked up my car keys, she was at my heels, ready to go.  One of our regular jaunts together was to McDonalds on weekend mornings when I ordered one sausage biscuit and one sausage patty for the dogs.  Little Dipper became a bit of a celebrity at the drive-thru.
 

Little Dipper getting her bits of McDonald's sausage, 2008.

 
At home, she liked belly rubs, which she trained Mark to do by simply flipping upside down on the couch.  And she liked to snuggle amongst the pillows and blankets.
 

Little Dipper's eyes peeking out from beneath the blankets.

 
She also loved to soak in the sun.
 

Little Dipper in the sun.

 
 
She also had a way of letting me know when she didn’t like something.
 
 

Little Dipper didn't really like this outfit.

 
Some say that Little Dipper was spoiled.
 

Little Dipper finding another comfy place.

 
But the fact is, Little Dipper simply wiggled her way into the heart of everyone who saw her.   

My pal.

Last night, a stroke led to her quick departure.  The hole she left in my heart is huge.  I will miss my walking pal, my traveling pal, my McDonald’s pal, and the little puppy that first licked my face to tell me she was the one for me.  May she run across the heavens and may belly rubs be waiting for her afterwards.

Our Latest Fuzzy Addition; Deer Swimming

Written by on July 29, 2012 1 Comment

Since everyone should probably get at least one hamster in their life, and because I’d never had one of my own, I set about to get a hamster of my very own . . . to add to the ten or so that Mark already had in the house.  Her name is Daisy and she was all by herself in a cage at the pet store, winked at me, and well, that was it. 

The hamster we named Daisy.

 Daisy took to her cage fairly well and really took to pepitas and pumpkin seeds.

Daisy inside a container of hamster food.

Perhaps you’ll excuse this shot of Daisy from the back.
 

Daisy from another view point.

 The other nifty thing that happened this week was looking outside at 6:30 in the morning a few days ago and seeing these.
 

They're all ears! A doe with her two fawns.

 
I got to see them swim from the island to a small peninsula across from the golf course. 
 

Doe with her twin fawns coming out of the water.

They stepped out of the water, and without shaking themselves like dogs do, simply walked off into the woods.
 

Mom leading her fawns into the woods.

 

How to Keep Dogs Cool in the Heat

Written by on July 22, 2012 No Comments

I’ve seen a few boneheads recently–people walking their dogs in the heat of the day; people walking their dogs on black pavement; people leaving their dogs in the car while they run into the store.  So for the boneheads out there, here are some tips for keeping your dogs healthy and happy during the heat waves.

1.  Leave your dog at home when you go to the store.  If you want to find out why, sit in your own car for 10 minutes with the window cracked a couple inches when it’s 93 degrees outside.  You’ll soon discover that it’s way too hot to keep dogs in a car even with the window cracked for even a few minutes.

Leaving Dusty while I run to the store.

2.  If you don’t have air conditioning, keep some fans going.  Also, if you can afford to, get one of those kiddy pools.  You don’t have to bring it inside like we did a few years back; your dog will like it outside, too.

Dusty in a small pool inside the house. Circa 2001.

3.  Get your fuzzy dogs de-fuzzied.

Dusty a day after getting trimmed. He really was happier than he looks here.

4.  Walk you dog first thing in the morning or last thing at night when it’s coolest.  Not only is the air cooler, the pavement is also.  If you’ve never felt the heat on pavement, put your hand on some parking lot black top next time it’s over 80 degrees in the middle of the day to feel what’s it’s like on your pal’s fuzzy feet.

5. In Michigan lately, some evenings are still over 85 degrees an hour before sun down.  Consider dumping some water on your dog’s back to cool her off for the short jaunt.

Dumping a wee bit of water on Little Dipper before our evening walk.

6.  Keep the walks shorter than usual.  Even a cooled dog doesn’t stay cool for long.

7.  Keep plenty of fresh water in your dog’s bowl.  My two little dogs are going through two bowls of water a day lately. 

8.  If you can, take your dog to a clean body of water to cool off.  Dusty and Dipper used to love a wee dip in Lake Michigan.

Little Dipper and Dusty in Lake Michigan.

 9.  Even if your dogs are used to sleeping in your bed, it’s best to keep them cool at night in the summer.  In our case, Dusty’s ability to make the whole bed move when he was panting sent him off the bed and onto the bathroom floor.  We all slept better as a result.
 
10.  Finally, if you do let your dog hang out outside, don’t leave them out for very long.  Dipper would stay out for hours if we let her, but she’s 13 and a half now and it’s better for her to be inside.  Also, keep your eyes out for ticks–I brought one into the house recently from my backyard.  It’s possible your dogs may pick one up, too.
 

Little Dipper hanging in the sun for a bit.

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