Dexter the Fighter

wp-1460234643355.jpegWell, I suppose sleep is not in the cards for me tonight.  That is just as well as I haven’t posted that much lately.  I must tell you about our baby squirrel, Dexter.  I know you are wondering why do I have a baby squirrel.  Well, nearly two weeks ago, we were asked to take on the rehabilitation of two baby squirrels who had lost their mother due to a mishap with a dog.  Apparently, the mother squirrel was ill and fell out of her nest, or so I am told.  She was unfortunately killed by a family dog who was simply being a dog. I know that my little dog, a pomeranian is always being taunted by one particular squirrel, and as dogs do like to chase small creatures, you can’t blame the dog for being a dog.

We became the new owners to Dexter and Felix.  Felix was the smaller and sicker of the two squirrel babies.  They both seemed to be okay when we received them except that they were covered with fleas.  They both were eating the puppy formula and seemed to be taking it well.  The first thing when receiving a tiny wild creature is having to figure out it’s approximate age and if it is dehydrated or not.  These babies were about 9 weeks old from the best we could tell.  We had infant pedialyte on hand thanks to the people that had the babies prior to us.  They may or may not have tried to feed them, but we weren’t sure.  We know that they had the bottle of pedialyte, some pieces of apple and some bird seed in the box with them as well as a warm sweatshirt, which we still need to return.

so cute squirrelWith the fact that we had one other squirrel before and we have had multiple baby rabbits, we have some experience with tiny creatures and rehabilitation, but it’s not easy.  The mortality rate is always high and the end goal is always to be able to release them back into the wild, no matter how cute and attached we may become.  They are wild animals and deserve the life God has created for them. This being said, it still is not easy to give them up.

Initially, like I said, both babies were doing fairly well.  Then, Felix started to decline quickly.  We lost him several days later.  It was devastating.  Dexter, however was doing well.  He was eating well, climbing the wires of the cage, climbing us for that matter.  He was doing great, until one morning, I noticed he was a little lethargic.  He started to drag his front paws.  His decline was so rapid.  I was so upset.  We were doing everything right, or were we?  He was approximately 10 weeks old.  My 14 year old and I were trying to figure out what was wrong with our baby.  There are great resources out there on the internet these days, but none better than the squirrel board.  My daughter figured it out.  It was a disease that usually affects squirrels around 10 weeks of age.  It’s called Metabolic Bone Disease.  It can paralyse them and nearly did paralyse Dexter.

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Dexter became disinterested in eating, moving was painful, and he just scooted himself without wanting to really lift his head much.  This is all due to a lack of calcium.  As soon as we had a diagnosis, we also had a treatment and a treatment plan.  Dexter was given crushed Tums in his formula, a special puppy formula and  not just any one.  It has to be a specific one.  I also got online and ordered specific squirrel food and baby hi protein blocks for him to eat.  We tried getting him to eat more often, many times having to force feed him, very carefully.  We even ordered the medication for this specific disease so he would have the correct dosage every day.

Much to our surprise, Dexter is now back to his old, rambunctious self.  He climbs and sits on top of my head, jumps from the bed when I’m sitting on it and climbs up my shirt.  He loves to sit outside and eat grass and chew the little branches.  He is one happy little squirrel again.  He still loves his formula even with the supplements in it.  What am I saying, he loves to eat! So there is the update on our happy little guy.  Warning, he is a very fast little friend who also tried climbing up my curtains this evening.  Thank God for the cage where he is now fast asleep.  I see a bright future for him outside.  He’s very smart for such a little guy.  When I can catch him sitting still, I will post some really cute photos!

I Think I’m Becoming Nocturnal

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Look it’s me in my dreams, anyway, also minus a laptop. I thought it was a really interesting picture to share!

I should be asleep again.  Deirdre, what are you doing up?  It’s 2:30 in the morning, you say? I know.  Believe me, I’m completely aware of this annoying fact, but I’ve got things on my mind and sleep seems just a bit too far away again.  Hopefully, living with the two hamsters who like to run races against each other on their wheels at this hour aren’t influencing my circadian rhythm.  Those two little nuggets of love seem to think sleeping all day long is great and staying up all night in the running wheels is a riot.  I swear, even though they can’t see each other, they have to be racing each other.  I think the new one, Bugatti, the one with the racing stripe down her back, is faster than the larger, more docile, Nagini.  I think we named them well.

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Way to cute not to share.  Looks like Dexter.

I know, I’m rambling once again, but what else do you do at this time of night? I’m certain there are others out there, especially in my age category, who suffer from this nasty thing called insomnia.  I have to say, I usually don’t, but I seem to have too many things on my mind again.  It is, however, very common for women of the mid 40-early 60’s to suffer with this dreaded insomnia.  It’s part of being women.  I always think back to before I had children, 20 beautiful years ago.  I could sleep through anything, then Emma was born and I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since.

I think that once a woman has a child, or even in the last part of pregnancy, you know, when you can’t get comfortable for anything , you say goodbye to sleeping well.  That time when you want to beat your husband with anything you can get ahold of because he’s sleeping soundly and says he didn’t sleep well the next day? Or, you watch them sleep.  You just sit and watch them sleep when you can’t.  Then they say they didn’t sleep well. GGgrrrrrr….

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The boy about age 3 but such a cutie!

I still remember after I had my son and it was complicated afterwards, but Hubby was great! My c-section wound had opened up and my dutiful husband would get up when the boy would wake up, after I nudged incessantly to wake his happily sleeping, snoring form up from our bed.  He would go get the boy and bring him to me, then immediately fall back to the slumbering, snoring form.  He was known to say how little he slept, and I know he didn’t sleep like he had before, but I was the one not sleeping.  Darn breast feeding for that one!  But then one day, the boy only wanted daddy to cuddle and carry him through out our small house.  This became part of the nightly routine and sleep was lost.  The hubby was more tired than he had imagined being.

I wonder if he remembers that feeling now!  Now, he sleeps with a C-PAP machine which supplies constant air pressure to make the slumbering form next to me not snore and provides him a restful sleep.  He also doesn’t keep me awake with the thunderous, oncoming locomotive snore of previous years.  Sleep apnea was diagnosed several years ago and this machine is the stuff of the Gods! Anyone who snores like that should definitely have a sleep study done and get checked out.  You are risking your life, not just irritating the one you sleep next to.  Seriously.

Ah, blissful sleep.  In another 20 minutes, it will be time to feed the baby squirrel again.  Yes, it’s the rodents of the house that are keeping me awake this lovely evening.  That and I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, well, in 12 hours actually, that I’m rather concerned about.  It’s a follow up for my pancreas.  I’ve been waiting for this one and I want answers that I know I will only have to wait longer for.  Waiting truly sucks and I am impatient.  I want to know what this is and let’s get the party started and fix me already.  I’m going by myself too, by choice.  Hubs is working overtime and I don’t want him to lose out on it.  Maybe I should take dad.  I go to his appointments so why not take him to mine.  He is my daddy.  What do you think?  Yea or Nay?  Decisions.

Well, back to preparing baby squirrel formula and feeding him.  Hubs has his “Darth Vader”mask on.  Love that thing.  Maybe I’ll even think about sleeping for a few hours.  Who knows.  Wish me luck!

Life Just Isn’t Fair Sometimes

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Dexter and Felix last week.

This week has been one of those weeks, which isn’t good since it’s only Monday.  The problem with this week is that it’s attached to last week.  Last week, we received the little blessings of 2 beautiful baby squirrels to rehabilitate since their mother was sick, fell out of her nest and then was eaten by a dog.  We lost Felix in the wee hours yesterday morning.  This morning, I was so frightened that we may lose Dexter as well.  I can’t lose another baby squirrel.  Oh, did I mention that we also lost the little hamster we had for 2 days? Yes, I’ve quite frankly had enough of death of small, cute, furry creatures for a while.

When I looked at my little Dexter, I saw him not moving around like he was yesterday. I saw him starting to scoot his front paws instead of actually using them to climb, like he was yesterday.  I was so frightened.  All I could do was cry.

My wonderful 14 year old, Katie, took over squirrel care for me and I took a break from the world for awhile.  She fed him and also found a site which explained exactly what was going on with our baby, Dexter!  It’s on Squirreltales.org and I am praying that I can help our baby make it through this awful disease now that I have the tools to do so.

What our baby seems to have is Metabolic Bone disease and it’s basically a calcium deficiency.  I’m reading everything I can now on how to help him. I’ve given him his first calcium supplement and pray that by morning I will see a difference.  I have to get some avocados though.  I can’t believe I’m out of them.  Me, of all people, out of avocados!   Apparently, if I hand feed my sweet little Dexter the calcium laden avocado, he’ll love it. I’m sure hoping so because the first thing I noticed was his appetite declining.

I managed to give him his dose mixed with some pedialyte tonight, and I will give him the remainder of it at the next feed since he’s not been too terribly interested in his normal foods and is just as happy to have his formula.  Hopefully the special biscuits will come tomorrow and will help him as well. Ah the things we do to rehab the wee ones.

I pray that Dexter will recover from this.  It is a very painful condition as it debilitates their tiny bodies.  If the answer is calcium, I can do that.  I would do anything to rehab this little guy.  He will be released into the wild if we can get him that far, but that is our job in all this.  We are simply a stone in the path of his tiny life to building his little fortress.  I’m just praying we can do it.  I can’t have my nearly nine year old and myself crying to bits yet again!  We haven’t even gotten over Felix yet.

A Time to Say Goodbye

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RIP Bandit

This morning, my husband found our little hamster, Bandit cold and limp. A life ended. A very short life at that. We didn’t have her a week but I had my suspicions that she wasn’t well when the kids brought her home. She didn’t suffer, she just passed away quietly in her sleep in her favorite place. Poor little might.

The only thing I can say that was merciful is that we hadn’t the time to become too attached to her. My little man, the nearly 9 year old, was upset and as usual in his dealing with death, wouldn’t go near her little dead body. He doesn’t want to deal with sadness. Ever since losing mom last November, Liam is afraid of death and being sad. He’s afraid of grief.

This is not something you can force a child his age to deal with either. He just simply wants to move on. We try desperately to help him. We’ve tried talking to him and reading books, but he will just walk away. Hopefully in time, when he’s ready, he will come to us. Until then? We wait.

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Felix the sickly baby

Our two little squirrel friends are still with us. Felix is not doing well though. I’ve prepared Liam for this by talking to him. Felix has been the weaker of the 2 babies. His breathing and muscle control is remarkably declining and my heart is broken.

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Dexter looking at Felix

Dexter, on the other hand, is thriving! He is climbing all over the cage, eating great and just doing everything he should be doing. It’s so hard to raise wild animal babies knowing that the chance of survival is always risky at best. We knew the odds were against Felix from the beginning but he did rally and look stronger initially. How quickly things can change.

With the short life of Bandit, my husband and I decided that Liam could replace her with a new hamster. This one is Bugatti, a Russian hamster, complete with racing stripe down her back. Already, she is more confident, friendly, curious, burrowing, climbing, exploring and sweet. She is healthy and had a nice solid poop on my hand just to show me how healthy she is. bandit has loose poop which was my first clue there was something wrong.  If you looked in Bugatti’s cage right now, you would think it’s empty, but that’s only because she’s asleep under the bedding.

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Baby Bugatti coming out of her tunnel

Ah the joy and sadness that comes from raising animals. With the good times and the bad, I still wouldn’t give it up. Thank God I have the world’s most understanding and wonderful husband alive.

My New Sweeties

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These two little sweethearts came into our family last night and in 24 hours they have completely won our hearts. Their names are Dexter and Felix. They are approximately 9 or 10 weeks old and are the cutest red squirrel babies you could ever meet.

Dexter is the larger and stronger of the two. He is pushy and loves to burrow and snuggle underneath his brother Felix. He loves pockets as well. He came with a chunk of apple which he devoured after drinking his milk. We finally have a syringe that he can manage easily and he sucks the milk right out making a mess of himself while doing so.

Felix is smaller and more fragile, but already growing stronger. He clings to everything, especially me! He loves his milk more than anything. When it’s food time, he’s ready for a chow down.

In less than a day these little guys have wedged their way into our lives and our hearts. Our hope is to raise them over the next several weeks to make them bigger and stronger and then release them. Wild animals need to be in the wild. Although it’s going to be difficult, we will do it. Rabbits don’t stay as long or need as much care as squirrels do but they, too, have been released back to nature. Wish me luck!

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Dexter looking adorable

New Life to Raise

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Dexter and Felix all cuddled up!

Sometimes God sends you the most unusual gifts. Throughout the years, we’ve helped raise and release many bunnies and one gimpy squirrel, Rupert who unfortunately did not make it. We knew Rupert probably wouldn’t make it but by golly we have him so much love and we learned so much I’m the 2 months we had that tiny little guy in our lives. We were so blessed.

Now, we are blessed again with not one but two baby squirrels and no gimpy legs! Meet Felix and Dexter. They lost their mama last night when a dog killed her. They are too young to be released and so we, the squirrel whisperers, have been called to be rescuers again. Mind you, Rupert did not die from the usual things that happen when humans interfere. Rupert died from an abscess in his gimpy leg that festered and although we did our best, we couldn’t save him.

Felix and Dexter are young red squirrels. Are they adorable? So far, we’ve had them an hour so I’ve assessed them for injuries and fed them after warming them. Never feed a cold squirrel. These guys have apparently been introduced to solids recently because their initial rescuers placed Apple pieces in the box and after I fed them formula, they each went over and chowed down a piece of apple.

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Felix and his apple

Dexter is much larger than little Felix. Felix may not be as advanced or may be when the previous saviors fed him he aspirated a little bit of the Pedialyte so I’ll have to keep a very close eye on him.

Dexter and Felix like to cling to things and like to be cuddled but imagine being separated from your mother and escaping your best to look for her. How scary for the little creatures.

I’m this house we believe that it is our duty to care for all of God’s creatures and it’s a task we are called to do. People do seek us out and most often we say yes. Many say we are crazy but I like to follow in the footsteps of my favorite saint who did the same thing, St. Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of animals. All of God’s creatures are special and if I can help them, I most certainly will.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of many wonderfully fun and interesting adventures with our two new little friends. Keep tuned for more fun with Dexter and Felix!