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Andrew & George 2Last Sunday, my hubby, Andrew, and I took a road trip to Slidell to attend the HERPS Exotic Reptile and Pet Show at The Harbor Center. These shows happen a few times a year in our surrounding areas, and I have always wanted to go to check out their critters. We are animal lovers and have cared for many pets over the years with a few exotics being part of the mix. I specifically was interested in checking out the hedgehogs (learn about the breeders, touch one, and assess cost to acquire one). I have never had a hedgehog but find them fascinating, so I have joined a couple of Facebook hedgehog groups to learn more about their habits and care requirements. I even follow Mr. Pokee’s page to check out his many adventures with his owner. My guys tagged along because they were just as curious as I was, and there would be lots of snakes.

Snakes are awesome creatures that are important for our environment, but they unfortunately frighten many people. I think if those people who are afraid of snakes took the time to learn more about snakes and their benefits in our world, they may not fear them as much. There were snakes galore at the HERPS show. They ranged in size from babies to adults in a multitude of colors. Andrew & GeorgeI had no idea when I went to the show that I would be leaving with one of them. We stopped at the Knockout Exotics table where Andrew spotted a Corn Snake for $25. The snake was born on June 4th where he hatched from an egg. His container had a “pet only” label on it. I inquired about it, and the breeder (Kara) told us that he was born with kinks in his spine which are medically harmless to the snake but not ideal for breeding. That was all my future zoologist needed to hear. Andrew purchased the snake, and with help from Kara, he also purchased a tank, bedding, and a hidey-hole to place inside the tank. With instructions from Kara, we left Slidell and headed back to Hammond. On the drive home, Andrew named his snake George. Before we arrived home, we had to make a quick trip to Petco to buy some frozen pinkies (sold out at the show) to feed George.

George has been with us for one week and is doing very well. He has eaten twice, successfully pooped, and has drunk water. He likes to explore his tank and get in between the paper towels (temporary bedding) and has even become more comfortable with Andrew handling him. I check on him regularly because he is amazing to watch. I fed him for the first time on Friday. Unfortunately, my phone was in the other room charging, so I could not take a video of it, and I didn’t want to miss a moment by running to get it. It was terrifyingly cool to watch. I was afraid he was going to suffocate while swallowing his food. Andrew informed me that George would not attempt to eat anything that would be too big for him to swallow. Whew! Since Andrew is leaving for college soon, I will have to care for George in between Andrew’s visits. This means I may have to feed him from time to time. Thankfully, Andrew is attending SLU which is no more than 20 minutes away. He plans to come home regularly to check on both Puar (his cat) and George.

In Other News:

I have been diligently working on my List of 100 Dreams (#19 on my 19 for 2019). Currently, I have 86 dreams listed, and one of them is to adopt a hedgehog.  More on my dreams list in an upcoming post.

I hope your weekend is going well, dear reader. I am wrapping up a few tasks at home today since I will be reporting back to my day job this week. And, one of those tasks is to add 14 more dreams to my List of 100 Dreams. Happiness!

“We don’t own the planet Earth, we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.” ~ Steve Irwin

 

 

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Letting Go

My family is grieving the loss of one of our beloved family members. Yesterday evening a little after 5pm, our cat, Ming, was put to sleep. My hubby, Andrew, and I were with her. Ming was 19 years old.

Ming

Ming

I brought Ming home when she was about eight weeks old. A woman I worked with at WYES found her in a store parking lot and planned to take her to the animal shelter after work. I was concerned the animal shelter would put her to sleep, so I took her home instead. I decided to name her Ming after a good friend of mine who I worked with at WYES. Ming and Barry, Jr., who was four at the time, bonded instantly. He would drag her all around the house. They were always hanging out together. I think it was hard on Ming when Barry left home and joined the military. Sometime after Barry, Jr. left home, she adopted Andrew and the two of them became pals.

Ming had been a relatively healthy cat for most of her life. When she was ten years old, she had to have one of her back legs amputated because she had cancer. She recovered quickly and adapted quite well with three legs. About two years ago, Ming started slowing down and arthritis was setting in. She was diagnosed with a thyroid condition and had to start taking medication. However, the rest of her blood work showed a healthy kitty.

About three weeks ago, she started urinating in one spot outside her litter box. It looked like she was starting to have difficulty getting in and out of it. The weekend before Thanksgiving, she seemed to slow down with her eating. By Wednesday she had not had a bowel movement, seemed uninterested in eating, and kind of lethargic. I made a vet appointment, which revealed she was dehydrated and didn’t have anything to really poop. The vet gave her fluids, and I took home some canned a/d food. She ate pretty well that day, but ended up vomiting later in the afternoon. I wasn’t overly concerned because she did that from time to time if she had to poop, which she also did that afternoon. The next couple of days she did fine. She was eating the a/d food, drinking water, and going to the bathroom normally. On Sunday, she didn’t seem to have as much of an appetite for food, but continued drinking water. By Monday, she wasn’t showing much interest in food or water so I made an appointment to bring her to the vet as soon as the office opened Tuesday morning. I had to feed her with a syringe.

Tuesday morning I texted Barry, Jr. to let him know things were not looking too good for Ming and asked him for his blessing to put her to sleep if the vet recommended it. He gave me his blessing. The vet was not ready to throw in the towel. She was dehydrated again, so we repeated fluids and decided to do some blood work to see how her kidneys and liver were functioning. I took Ming back home and made her comfortable. The next day she was like a new kitty. She ate well ALL day, drank plenty of water, followed us around wanting attention. I started to believe she just needed help getting more fluids.

Unfortunately, the results of the blood work were not good. The results showed Ming was in stage four renal failure. The vet suggested we continue with administering fluids twice a week if we wanted to try to help her make it for Barry, Jr. for when he came home for Christmas. Her next appointment would be Friday at 5:10pm. Thursday was a bad day for Ming. It was like Monday all over again. When I spoke with Barry, Jr. later that afternoon, he requested that we put Ming to sleep before he came home for Christmas. He did not want to be here when she died. He spoke to her on the phone and she mewed back. Ming was restless all Thursday evening and into Friday morning. I knew in my heart she was making the decision for us. She was asking us to let her go. I called the vet’s office Friday morning and asked the receptionist to cancel the fluids, but keep the appointment so we could put Ming to sleep. And, that is what we did. We let her go.

Andrew picked out the shroud for her to be wrapped in. We brought her body home and buried her in a spot under some trees. Although our family is mourning the loss, we are at peace because Ming is at peace. We are choosing not to focus on the last couple of weeks of her life or the sadness of putting her to sleep. However, we are choosing to focus on the joy, happiness, and love we shared with her for almost two decades. We LOVE you, Ming!

“Sometimes love means letting go when you want to hold on tighter.”                   ~ Melissa Marr, Ink Exchange

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Going to the Dogs

       Until recently, I did not consider myself a DOG person. I’m a CAT person. I’m a CRITTER person (ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters). Dogs are time-consuming, dependent, and needy. Ironically, two big beautiful German Shepherds named Sophie and Sonic live at our residence; however, my husband takes care of them.  

Comet

     Then an amazing thing happened in September of 2010. On the way to school one morning, Andrew and I stopped to rescue a little black dog who was dodging traffic. My intention was to get him out of harm’s way. I had just proclaimed to my family the week before that we would not be getting any more pets. Our ferret was terminally ill, and the vet bills were wreaking havoc on our budget. I explained to Andrew that we would not be keeping this little mutt. So, we drove back home and set him up in one of the big dog’s kennel with food and water and went off to school for the day. Barry went home during lunch to check on him. Of course, Barry thought he was cute. Barry is a DOG person. We had a family meeting later that evening to decide our course of action. Needless to say, my proclamation was ignored by all family members (including myself), and we kept him. Thus, my slow but steady conversion toward the canine race. Andrew named him Comet, and he is my furry sidekick. Yes, he is needy, time-consuming, dependent, and can be quite loud when he barks; however, he makes me happy. He is always happy to see me and showers me with lots of love and affection. Score points for the DOG!

     Two weeks ago, my husband found a female dog at a construction site. She was injured, and had recently given birth. My husband did not find any puppies, so the consensus is she was dumped when the puppies were old enough to be given away. The extent of the injuries indicated she had been hit by a car. Regardless, my husband could not leave her injured and all alone. Of course, I had to find a place to take her because we could not have another pet, especially one that would require extensive vet care. I soon made the heartbreaking discovery that our local shelter is a HIGH KILL shelter, and many animals are euthanized the same day they are brought to the shelter. Other shelters or humane societies would only accept strays if you lived in their parish, or their organization had a three month waiting list. I literally had no idea the plight for homeless dogs was this extensive. And, I wasn’t really given any solutions by the organizations I had contacted. It was frustrating.

Crystal

 My affirmation for that day was about “guidance.” I prayed for some guidance because I knew keeping this dog was not the answer.  Then, I had a thought. I called a local company that allowed a dog rescue group to visit once a month to hold a dog adoption. I called the company and they put me in touch with Vickie at Swampy Paws. I called her immediately and explained the situation. Vickie agreed to take her if we could foster her for two weeks. I agreed without hesitation. Andrew and I met Vickie at a vet’s office where she brings her rescue dogs. Vickie asked Andrew to name the dog, and he chose Crystal. Crystal had a shattered kneecap. Besides regular dog care, I would also be administering pain medication and antiobiotics. Our two weeks with Crystal went by very quickly. She is the sweetest dog and deserves a loving forever family. We brought Crystal to Vickie on Monday. Even though I know Vickie is a wonderful person and her rescue organization works hard to place dogs in a loving forever home, it was hard to walk away.

     Vickie called me today to let me know Crystal’s kneecap was shattered beyond repair, and she was having surgery to remove the leg. I know this expense will put a strain on Swampy Paws’ budget. I’m including a link for the Swampy Paws Rescue Organization for anyone who may want to make a donation to go towards Crystal’s surgery. I know this experience has opened my eyes to a big problem concerning the treatment of dogs. I’m not sure what role I will be playing in the future concerning solutions for this growing problem; however, I feel as if I will have a role. If anything, it has given me a new appreciation for the DOG and my heart has opened wider for them.

Andrew and Crystal

Andrew with our foster dog, Crystal.

 
 Here is some information about Swampy Paws. Vickie also writes a blog.
 
http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/LA266.html  (General information about Swampy Paws)
 
http://swampypaws.blogspot.com/  (Blog for Swampy Paws)
 
 
“To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.”  ~Milan Kundera
 

“Gratitude: that quality which the Canine Mongrel seldom lacks; which the Human Mongrel seldom possesses!”

~Lion P.S. Rees

 

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A Tribute to Zig

Zig

Zig exploring Andrew's bag.

      On the afternoon of October 12, 2010 my family said good-bye to Zig, our ferret of four years. We gathered around the hole my husband carefully dug in our yard for Zig’s body. Andrew placed his lifeless body, which had been wrapped in a brown shroud, into the hole. Andrew scooped up a small handful of dirt, threw it on top of Zig’s body, and said good-bye. No one spoke as my husband refilled the hole.  Afterwards, we all agreed Zig was probably frolicking in pet heaven with his little buddy Zag, who died two years earlier.

     My family adopted two ferrets three and half years ago from a woman who worked with my mother. Everyone knows that I am very softhearted when it involves animals. My mother’s coworker needed a new home for the ferrets. Apparently, their novelty wore off only after having them for about a month. I had a ferret growing up, so I was definitely interested in adopting them. However, my husband…not so much. Nonetheless, we went to a pet store that sold ferrets to show Andrew what a ferret was all about. He was able to hold it and observe it. We bought a book about ferrets and learned the basics of raising ferrets. A few weeks later, Zig and Zag became part of our family. They were about ten months old.  Our little guys were so much fun. They were very curious, full of energy, and loved to play. 

     Unfortunately, about a year and a half later, Zag died from a tumor rupturing in his spleen. It was a sad time. Andrew took it very hard. Zig lost his buddy and playmate. Soon, we became Zig’s constant playmates. We played hide-and-seek and chased him through his tube. He was always ready to play.

     It was Friday, September 10, 2010,  and I noticed Zig breathing heavy. I scheduled a vet appointment the following Monday. An x-ray was performed that revealed fluid on the lungs and a dark mass. With the fluid on the lungs, the vet could not tell if the mass was a tumor or an enlarged heart. He was prescribed Furosemide, which I had to get filled at Walgreens, to reduce the fluid in his lungs. The next day, we went to see another vet to have an ultrasound done. The ultrasound revealed a tumor, but the vet could not tell which kind. Cells were taken and put on slides. The slides were sent to a lab at LSU Vet School. A few days later, the results revealed it was a tumor, but not lymphoma. There was no good news. Zig was going to die, but we didn’t know when.

     The hardest part about being a pet owner for me is when you have to make the tough decision about when to say “enough is enough.” It took me a month of vet expenses, three meds, and Zig’s steady decline in appetite and weight to let go. It took my breath away the moment he passed away. It was the first time I was in the room when one of our pets had to be put to sleep. My family and I have a rule that someone in our family must be with our pets if they have to be put to sleep. It is the least we can do for them after all the unconditional love they give us.   

     Then comes the hard part…telling your nine-year-old son that his pet has died. Andrew took it really hard. No matter how much I prepared him or myself, it was still so sad. Andrew is happy Zig is no longer suffering. We have a new puppy (will blog about him later) we rescued on 9/30. I told Andrew that maybe God sent Comet since He had to take Zig, and He knew Andrew had so much more love to give. Andrew really loves his new puppy. Comet will not replace Zig, but has made the death easier to accept because he has been so busy with Comet. Andrew asked me not to give away Zig’s cage. So once it is cleaned up, we will put it in the attic. It has been two weeks, and I have yet to clean his cage or throw away his stuff. I know that last step makes it final. And, today… I’m just not ready to make it final.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

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