Good morning and what a day. The weather is fine and so is my spirit as I begin another day in the journey of my life. I actually slept last night. All night! This never seems to happen much these days so when it does, it’s a gift. Well, I certainly see it as such. Insomnia is such a pain. It renders one fairly useless or at least you feel that way the following day.
Our little friend, Dexter the squirrel, is doing very well. We wanted to release him back into the wild this week but now we are second guessing ourselves. I wish so much that we had the answer we need, but that one only God knows. Will he make it in the wild? Out biggest concern is simply that he is fearless. He shows no fear of other animals that would be his natural predators. He really is no problem. He loves to run around and climb on us and my bed. Its a jungle gym for him. My hand is his wrestling pal. He’s very gentle when we play and he does somersaults over my hand as I try to tickle his belly. I wish I knew the answer. I wish i knew about releasing him at this point. He is a sweetie. A love I never thought possible.
We have rehabbed rabbits many times and had no problems releasing them. Squirrels are so different. They take much more time and energy to raise. This makes it harder to let go for sure, but if I thought he would be okay, he would be released today. Physically, he’s ready but could benefit from more calcium supplements still after his near death diagnosis of MBD. Oh what to do. I know people have had pet squirrels before, but that was never our intention. Time will tell, I suppose. I have him sitting on my shoulder after he finished playing and eating his breakfast as I write this. Dexter is a happy, fairly healthy squirrel now. I just would never forgive myself if we released him and he was eaten by another animal because he trusted it to be his friend.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you how much I love our coffee weekends. I know I’m new to this, but I’ve been looking forward to this all week. It’s been a busy week. I would tell you that I’m glad I made the change from my other job. This job will eventually become my home just as my last job was. It’s always hard to leave home, even when you know it’s for the best. I will always treasure my memories and my friendships that I made there. I was there for a long time. It’s hard to say goodbye, but luckily, I keep in touch with my friends. My new job is completely different from my old job. I’m refreshed when I think about it. I don’t dread going to work, not that I did with my old job, but I knew I would be completely drained by the end of the day, devoid of any energy to do or be anything more than a blob of mush in my bed. Once I have learned how to do my new job properly, I think, think, mind you, that I will actually still have the energy at the end of the day to be a wife and mother. I know I’ll be home by 5:20pm everyday and not some unknown time. That gives me peace of mind. It also pleases my husband and my children. I am refreshed and renewed. Who knew? And to think I put this off for so long!
If we were having that coffee that we so enjoy, I’d tell you that I have a newly nine year old boy this week! Yep, the Boy turned nine on Wednesday. He was thrilled with his new hockey gear and even got some early, just by a day, so he could use it for Tuesday’s night’s game. He even received new blue laces for his skates. Now, even in his uniform, I can pick him out by his skate laces and his stick. We had to do some spiffy taping on the stick to make it “cool”. Sure, he received some clothes which he actually was very excited about. Yes, he’s an odd boy who likes clothes. He practiced gratitude which pleased me tremendously! I didn’t even have to remind him to be grateful. He even got new boxers as a present because he has decided that the briefs are annoying and he’d rather just go without than wear them. Lord help me, please! Since receiving the boxers, however, he’s thrilled to bits and no complaints in the undergarment department!
I would give you the latest update on our little squirrel friend, Dexter. He is thriving! Dexter is still not weaned. Typical baby boy, just like my human boy, wanting to hold on to “mama” as long as he can, I suppose. He now sucks down anywhere from 10-20ml of squirrel formula at a time several times a day. Usually, he takes about 15 ml. He’s a good little squirrel but he does poop a lot, especially if he’s sitting on your shoulder. Luckily it’s very tiny and solid and easy to pick up. He is still on his calcium supplement for his calcium deficiency, but we have been able to lower the dose. He loves to climb, skitter around his cage and jump from person to person. He’s tried climbing up my curtains, but we caught him and that was the end of that. Soon, we will hopefully be able to release him. It will be difficult to say goodbye, but I have a feeling we will be seeing him a lot in our yard, especially looking for his squirrel biscuits.
Well, 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.
With 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.
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 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.
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….
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!