Bat Orphans

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Hello, friends! I know I have not been doing my usual amount of posting, but I promise it is for a good reason: I only have two weeks of classes left in my time as an undergrad! Woohoo!

Anyway, this means I have been incredibly busy finishing up some senior projects. Whenever I get stressed out with deadlines and no sleep, I watch this particular video. It reminds me that all of this work is giving me the skills which will enable me to go out and achieve my dreams, which include rehabilitating baby bats!

What keeps you going you when are at your wit’s end?

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UPDATE: Nicky, the Blind Baby Rhino

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@BBCNature

Do you all remember the story I posted about a month ago? Nicky, the Blind Baby Rhino was rescued by the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy when they noticed he was behaving oddly — running into things, straying from his mother, looking generally lost. Upon closer inspection, the team realized he had cataracts and was blind.

On February 26, @BBCNature tweeted that Nicky was about to undergo his operation to restore his sight.

Unfortunately, @SaveTheRhino updated on the operation the following day to say that the vet had concluded that the operation would not restore his vision, meaning Nicky will be blind for life.

This is very upsetting news, but there is a lighter side to the story: just like Desmond, Nicky has never had sight, so he does not know that he is “missing out” on anything. He is adapting to his world, and under the care of Mike Watson, Nicky is living a pretty posh life. As far as I know, he still hates the rain, and is still best friends with the Watson’s yellow labrador.

Cheers, Nicky! You have a lot of fans across the globe who are excited to watch you grow.

An Encouraging Day

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I posted a picture of Desmond to the Black Cat Appreciation Page on Facebook, and people have been so incredibly supportive of my little blind cat. In honor of him and of all the kind-hearted souls out there who took a minute of their day to appreciate a stranger’s cat, thought I would share some more photos of my little sweetheart.

In these pictures, you can see him doing all of his favorite things: wrestling his (second) favorite toy called “Dragon,” snuggling, listening to the “water birds” in the sink, playing in a crinkly paper bag, and licking a tiny treat of whipped cream off of his nose.

Newfs

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They look like bears. Sometimes people mistake them for “those black St. Bernards,” but neither of those assumptions is right. Tonight, we’re talking about Newfoundlands! The shaggy, drool-y dogs that are as gigantic as they are sweet.

I had the immense pleasure of wrestling and snuggling this beautiful dog, Belle. She is a total sweetheart and inspired me to find out more information about her breed.

Belle was rescued from the side of the road when she was a tiny puppy. She has one white spot on her front leg, which was broken when she was found and taken to the vet. The vet thinks that it was because of this “imperfection” that she was abandoned. I happen to be quite close to Belle’s new family, and even though she had a rough start to life, I don’t think she could have found a better home than the one she is in now.

Belle

Belle, today. Have you ever seen a friendlier face?

Newfoundlands, fondly called “Newfs” or “Newfies,” originated in – you guessed it – Newfoundland (now part of Canada), and were commonly used on fishing boats. Newfs have webbed toes and are incredibly strong, so they were able to haul heavy fishing nets out to sea. There is no way I would be able to do that! Newfs do not do the “doggy paddle” like other dogs. Instead, they move their legs in a down-and-out motion, which would kind of be like a dog-modified breast stroke. This makes them extra powerful.

They were also very skilled at saving crewmembers (or others) who had fallen into the freezing waters. Stories of rescues led by Newfoundlands go all the way back to 1815 when Napoleon Bonaparte was kept afloat in the ocean until he could reach safety by a Newfoundland. The dog had jumped off of a fishing boat to rescue Mr. Bonaparte during his escape from exile on the island of Elba.  This is just one example. Google “Newfoundland dog rescues…” and you will find countless stories of these courageous “gentle giants.” You can also find statues of them! Explorer Meriwether Lewis had a Newf companion named “Seaman.” There is a statue of them on Quality Hill in Kansas City, MO.

Loyal and intelligent, Newfs are great family dogs who can tolerate kids, other pets, and family visitors. On average, they grow up to be 150 pounds, but even with all that mass, they remain very gentle. The largest Newf on record weighed 260 pounds and was over six feet long from nose to tail. Whoah.

A lot of people are afraid of big dogs, but if put in charge of a baby, Newfs are natural nannies (Nana from Peter Pan, anyone?) and I have heard that they will not sleep until they are relieved of duty. They are some of the most docile and loving creatures you will ever meet.

Have you ever met a Newfoundland? I think they have an amazing history, and I love how their bodies have evolved to make them swimming machines. What kind of dog(s) do you have?

Nicky, the Blind Baby Rhino

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I read this story on the NatGeo website back in December. My first though was, “Oh my goodness! He’s just like my Desmond!” This story is absolutely incredible. Here’s an excerpt:

Nicky was born with cataracts, but will hopefully have surgery to repair them this Spring.

Nicky was born with cataracts, but will hopefully have surgery to repair them this Spring.

“Nicky is just like any other baby rhino. He likes to play and is curious about the world around him. Only the world doesn’t look the same to this little black rhino because he was born blind.

With his lack of vision, Nicky is particularly vulnerable and at risk from predators in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya.

To keep him safe from harm, Nicky has been living at the family home of Mike Watson, Lewa’s CEO, since he was one month old. He has his own boma (enclosure) with a padded play area and a straw-lined room for sleeping. His best animal friend is a yellow Labrador, one of the Watsons’ family dogs.

The Watson family and two experienced handlers, Yusuf and Tonga, care for Nicky around-the-clock. He is never left alone for a minute and there is always someone on hand to look after his needs and show him the way. He spends his days running around, taking afternoon naps and wallowing in his mud bath.

When we arrived, Nicky was sound asleep under his blanket, tucked in tightly just the way he likes it. It wasn’t long before he woke up, stretched his short legs and began bounding around, occasionally banging into things. Nothing seems to dampen his playful spirit, except for the rain. He really doesn’t like getting wet.

During our stay, the downpour was the least of Mike’s worries when poachers killed four rhinos on the conservancy. This tragic loss served as a reminder of the importance of hand-raising Nicky in a secure environment. Already, he is acting as an ambassador for black rhinos in the fight for the survival of his species.

By early next year, Mike and the Lewa staff are hoping to raise enough funds to fly in a specialist to perform cataract surgery to restore Nicky’s eyesight. In these troubling times, when the life of every rhino counts, it was heart-warming to witness the care and compassion shown for this blind baby rhino.

So what’s the story with Nicky? How did he come to reside in the boma that he currently calls home?

Nicky’s story is closely tied with the story of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Since the early 1980s, Lewa has worked to protect rhinos from poachers and ensure the survival of these endangered animals, particularly the black rhinos that are one of Lewa’s two “flagship species,” along with the Grevy’s zebra.  Black rhinos are being poached at a horrifying and unsustainable rate and our primary goal is to ensure the survival of these majestic creatures.

Several months ago, two of Lewa’s rangers observed a new-born black rhino calf that was displaying unusual behaviour: running into things, straying away from his mother, and generally getting confused. The Lewa veterinary team intervened and confirmed original suspicions that he was blind.

The chances for a blind male black rhino’s survival in the wild are very slim, so Nicky was picked up by the Lewa wildlife and security teams and brought to a “boma” or enclosure, where he could be raised in a safe and protected environment.  The first few days in his new home were difficult for him, but now he’s thriving, growing, and getting into all kinds of trouble.

What does a typical day look like for Nicky?

Nicky enjoys his life. He wakes up early in the morning both hungry and ready to play. He goes crazy for a couple of hours running around, bumping into things and playing with his handler. He then sleeps again for another couple of hours, wakes up, takes a walk with the minders, and occasionally our family dogs, then takes a mud bath – his favorite activity.

For those who are interested in supporting Nicky, what should they do?

There are several ways to support Nicky and other black rhinos like him:

 

This is just part of the article. Read the rest here: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/12/17/caring-for-nicky-the-blind-baby-rhino/

I find this story to be so inspiring! Nicky is beautiful, I would love to meet him and the caring people who have given him a safe home.

How about you? Have you ever considered rehabilitating baby rhinos?

Desmond’s First Snow

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In unheard of news, my university was closed for its third snow day in two weeks today. I was looking through some old photos and came across some pictures I took when I first introduced my blind cat, Desmond, to snow in 2011. He hadn’t even had his surgery yet – he was barely six months old – so you can see his little undeveloped eye tissues in one of the photos.

I brought a big mixing bowl full of it into my room and Des sniffed it for at least five minutes before he licked it, then finally stuck his paws in it. He figures things out in steps, just like a baby: sniff it, touch it, taste it. Well, it didn’t taste that amazing, and it was super cold, so once Des figured that out, he stopped being interested. He has that “Great…so what am I supposed to do with this?” look going on in the third photo. Smarty pants.

#RescueTime

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I believe that critters can sense when you are an animal person. I believe that if you open up your heart to them, they will find you. This has been proven true multiple times to me, like last night, when an injured cat just happened to find himself outside the door of my second-floor apartment.

Wednesdays are one of my busiest week days and yesterday was no exception. I finally got home for the night sometime after nine o’clock and decided, even though I was tired, I would go out and spend some much needed time relaxing out on the town with my roommates. I was barely inside for five minutes, and there was no cat around when I got home. But as we were leaving the apartment, viola. A cat. Right off the bat, he had a lot to say and, like most cats, he was in desperate need of petting. I knew he wasn’t one of the feral cats that live around the apartment alleyway. I didn’t recognize him, and he was neutered, very soft and clean, and not at all skittish. Once I got a better look at him, I noticed he was scratched up and was missing a front toenail, including all the fur around it. I guess the feral gang didn’t recognize him either. I told my roommates I better not go out after all, and headed back inside to do some doctoring.

The cat was super grateful to be out of the cold and was very patient as I washed out his ouchies and put some triple antibiotic ointment on them. Thank you, trusty first aid kit! Then I started calling around town to figure out what to do with the guy.

First, I posted a picture of him on Facebook. All of the people I know in town are college students who can’t have pets, but with social media, you never know who will see the pic and recognize the missing kitty. Then I called my vet’s office, which is hooked up to an after hours dispatch service. They recommended that I call animal control. I wasn’t super fond of the idea, but I looked it up anyway. I live in a very tiny town (an everything-closes-before-8pm town), and according to the interwebz, animal control was the job of the police. I called their non-emergency after hours line, and had a talk with a lady who did not sound like a cat-person. Apparently, the information I found was outdated and the police no longer take care of such calls. “Well, darn,” I thought. So, I called the vet hotline again. This time, I was connected with my main veterinarian, who I am pretty sure is a saint. He has done so much for my Desmond — he definitely deserves his own post in the future!

Doc told me to put some Neosporin on Cat’s wounds, and I told him with a casual flip of my hair, “Been there, done that” (I may be paraphrasing). Then he advised me to watch the cat overnight, make sure he wasn’t acting sick, give him some food, and take him in to the vet office in the morning where he could get his distemper shot and some de-wormer, be kept until Monday, and then he would be moved to the Humane Society. The other option was to take him straight to the Humane Society about 20 minutes from here. It is a no-kill shelter, but I hate to decrease this cat’s chances of getting back to his real home by sending him out of town. I also don’t like the idea of sending him to a shelter without making sure he has his shots.

It sounded like a sleep-over was the only option, and as soon as Cat saw the pile of fleece blankets on my bed, he was sold on the idea. He looked to me for permission, and then immediately jumped up and buried himself underneath all of the blankets. Then he slept for a very long time. He had had a rough day.

So what are some quick tips if you come across an injured kitty and everything in town is closed? First of all, if it is an emergency, don’t rely on yourself. Call your vet and let them know what is wrong so they can prepare, and then get to the help immediately. If, like in the case of this kitty, all you’re dealing with are a couple of booboos, then just go into parent-mode. Clean them up, patch them up, and give them a little bit of comfort food. Minor scratches just need a little bit of that triple antibiotic ointment that most people have lying around the house.

For some quick kitty food, put a few Cheerios in a bowl, pour in just a little bit of milk, and heat it up in the microwave for about 7 seconds. For a litter box, all you need is an empty box (bigger than the cat), a trashbag to line the bottom, and ripped up newspaper. Using a paper shredder for this is the easiest, but you can just as easily use your hands or scissors. Just make sure you are not just throwing in giant wads of paper. Unless you just want your cat to sit in the box and play. If you have time to prepare, you can make really good kitty litter at home. Just do a quick Google search. Most recipes only require newspaper, dishsoap, and baking soda. That is also a great way to save some money and to ensure that you are not buying strip-mined clay litter, which is bad for the environment and not as healthy for your cat.

Have you ever had to stop what you were doing to help a furry-ous friend in need? It seems to happen a lot around here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Right now, it’s usually injured cats that find their way onto my bathroom sink for some quick doctoring. I wonder who I would bring home if I lived on the coast, or in the desert….