A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper

A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper
Ever wonder what its like to share your world with a bunch of crazy critters? Tune in to find out!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ferret and Piggy Vet Visit

Yesterday's vet visit went well - 8 critters cared for in about one and a half hours - not too shabby.  First off - the good news is that everyone seems pretty darn healthy. We are still waiting to hear about blood results on Kai and Winston but I am not expecting anything catastrophic in either case. We took blood on Kai to confirm his weight loss was related to coat change and not something that needs treatment and we took blood on Winston because that's what we do every year to stay on top of his health.

The ferrets were very well behaved and cooperative.  I have a couple of pics of Tabby, who went first. Tabs has developed a freckle on her nose. I had the vet check it out to confirm it is just a freckle and not something more scary. Thankfully - freckle confirmed!

Tabby, Bash, Theo, Kai, Fiona - these guys all got vaccinations - rabies and distemper, adrenal disease prevention implants and physicals.



Madison - who has active adrenal disease had already received her updated implant a few months ago, as well as her vaccines so she only had a physical.

Violet had her vaccinations at one of her glucose check appointments a few months ago as well so she had a physical and got her implant updated.

All in all - the state of the business is pretty darn good!

Winston - ah piggy boy.  The reality of it is - it's challenging to vet a pig. He screamed like a banshee when they put the meds in his snout. I don't think this was because of the medicine but more because they have to use gravity so they life his front feet off the ground and sit his butt on the floor. To say he didn't like it would be an understatement.

He staggered around like a drunken piggy and then we flipped him on his back. Pigs are prey animals so this part is very scary for them instinctively. He screamed for a bit but once I talked to him and gave him loves he settled down. He was on his back for a bit - they did a blood draw, vaccinations, physical, hoof trim, tusk trim. He did pretty well and all of us involved felt like the appointment went just about as well as it could have gone. Winston spent the afternoon sleeping of his meds. The ferrets were no worse for the wear and everyone seems happy today.  I am glad it's over and done with for another year.

I had to chuckle. The dogs wigged out when they heard Winston screaming - seems like they might want to murder him but they don't appreciate anyone else attempting to do it for them.  LOL

Friday, June 15, 2018

General Updates

Well - so much for blogging more frequently - there really isn't enough time in the day.  Let's get up to date on how things are going here:

Kitties - we will start here because there is not much to say.  Kitties are all doing well - they seem happy and healthy and all is right in the feline world.

Piggers - Winston is doing great. He is on a really good schedule and has gotten over being pissed off that the puppies came home. He spent a couple of weeks issuing me special piggy memos letting me know that he was unhappy. That has finally calmed down and he is doing well. He spends a good bit of time outdoors. For the most part he is out by himself - although there have been a few times he is out at the same time as one of the girl pups. I have not had him outside with Tango - although there have been some cases of incidental/accidental contact that have occurred with no aggression from either party.

Emma - the old girl is doing well - she is a bit senile, a bit deaf, a bit blind and a bit annoying at times but she keeps going strong.  She's 15 now and we pretty much let her do her thing. She is happy the pups are back!

Pups - they are adjusting quite well to being home under a new set of rules.  Pup parents are still going to school - I think a few more lessons left. They are much improved dogs I must say and I am enjoying spending time every day with them one on one. I am quite please with their progress. It's interesting - Juliett is the worrier - she stresses out - wants to do it right and hates being in trouble. Tango is the stubborn one - the boundary tester who likes to see what he can get away with before he gets in trouble. And Charli - she was my difficult child before we went to training - she has blossomed. She loves the structure and is really thriving having new rules - never would have guessed....

Ferrets - the crazy little business is doing just great! Violet continues to do well - her weight, appetite, energy, level of engagement - they are all fantastic. Kai is a bit thinner than I would like - I believe this to be related to his coat change. Male ferrets can lose up to 30% of their body weight with changing from winter to summer coat. With a ferret like Bash who is quite stocky its not as noticeable but with a long, lean ferret like Kai - he looks thinner for sure.  His appetite, energy levels, etc are all fine but I have been supplementing his food a few times a day. All the ferrets LOVE to eat from the syringe (something I taught them when Harlow - our FIP ferret was ill a few years ago). So - I make up some gravy and give Kai a supplemental feeding a few times a day. I also give some to Violet as its good from a blood sugar perspective for her to eat often. And - then I have to share with each of the other ferrets - they all take turns getting a little taste from the syringe. Mind you - if I dump the gravy into their bowl - no interest. They are so silly.

The exotic vet comes for a house call on the 27th. I will have him give Kai a good once over to be sure he is fine. Winston will also get his annual stuff done - vaccines, physical, annual blood draw, tusk trim, hoof trim - its stressful for him and for me...but it has to happen... The ferrets will get their updated adrenal disease prevention implants - all but Madison who already had hers updated a few months ago.

That's it from here - maybe some camera trap pics and some critter pics as well in the next week or so....

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Beautiful Turkeys

One of the favorite wildlife visitors around here are the turkeys. We have three males and several females that pass through. They are here for a week or two and then we don't see them for a week or two and then they are back. I love seeing them:

Friday, May 25, 2018

They're Baaccckkkk.....

Oh my goodness - I am so happy that my little zoo is complete once again.  We picked up the puppies from school this morning and I am thrilled to have them home. This first week is going to be tough with trying to acclimate them back into our environment under a who new set of rules. Here are the primary focuses we have for the next week:

  1. No paws on people, no paws on stuff - this means no jumping, scratching at the door, getting on the furniture, etc.
  2. No teeth on people (play biting) and no teeth on stuff that is not theirs - this means no chewing up shoes, paper, etc.
  3. Dogs under human control at all times - this means on a leash or in a crate 100% of the time this week - ugh.
  4. CALM - the theme of the week is calm - don't stir them up - don't talk to them in a crazy, excited 'dog voice', don't yell at them - just conversational corrections and interactions.

So - I didn't love the idea of that much crate time so luckily the kitchen is large enough that we can have three 'dog stations'. Each gets a dog bed, toys, a bone, a water bowl. They are connected to a leash that is connected to something stationary.  For instance - Juliett's leash is hooked to the leg of the kitchen table. They are far enough apart they can see each other but cannot interact. So far it has gone well.

In addition, I am keen to get them better at going in the car so I have decided that my Starbucks run will have a dog in tow each time. Today I took Charli (because she hates the car the most). She did okay, she did not get in trouble for being afraid and the return trip was much calmer than the way there. We will keep working on it.

All in all - the change in the dogs is remarkable. They are much more calm. They were always fairly mellow, but they are calm as well. Their leash manners are amazing - they had none when we started as we were terrible and never leash trained them. Obedience has vastly improved. If you tell them to do something or stop doing something they listen. Now, there are still times they need corrected and they are only three weeks in to training so its not perfect but its great.

All in all - so far so good.  Thankfully I have a long weekend and can spend a good bit of time doing dog things over the next few days. In the next 7 - 10 days we will head back to training center with all three pups to do another session and expand the scope of their world slowly but surely.  By August - they should have a good amount of freedom and be in the beginning stages of maintenance mode.

Emma is thrilled they are home.  Winston hasn't seen them yet - that is a few weeks away....

I will keep posting as we make progress - I will try to get some pictures over the weekend as well.  Happy Friday!!





Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Blogging Hiatus

Gosh  - its been forever since I blogged.  I needed a bit of a hiatus I guess. This is the longest I have gone without blogging since I started in 2011.

Lots and not a lot has been happening around here. The humans have been far too busy as of late. The critters have been pretty status quo.

  • Emma is doing well. Having an older dog definitely has some challenges but we are fortunate that she is in good health and going strong.
  • As you probably know - the puppies (who aren't really puppies anymore - can you believe that they will be two in September?) are off to school. They come home on Friday, the 25th of May. I can't wait to get them home - I have missed them so much!!
  • Winston the pig is enjoying his dog vacation. He is doing fantastic - loving the warmer weather and the time outside.
  • Violet - the insulinoma ferret continues to do well!  She is bright, happy and active.
  • The rest of the ferret gang are all doing just great. They are all in the process of losing their winter coat and blubber and thinning out with less weight and thinner hair. All of them are full of energy.
  • The kitties are all doing just great as well. Aggie continues to do well at 22. Oliver and Phoebe seem to be quite stable on the hyperthyroid front and they are all happy and engaged and enjoying some time in the sun in their outside playspace.

I haven't checked the camera traps in a bit so I will make my way down there and find some good shots to share with you guys in the coming days. Additionally - I will provide a full report on what it's like with pups once we get them home.

June is busy - parties, visitors, vet visits for the pig and the ferrets - whew - there is always so much on the plate.

Hopefully I can get back on a more regular blogging schedule as well...fingers crossed!!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Weekend in Review

It's been a good weekend so far.  Midday on Sunday and I just got done running errands. I am pleased to report that I can leave the puppies unattended for short stints now without them tearing things up or getting into things they shouldn't.  In fact, when I got home today, I returned to find Charli and Juliett sound asleep in their crates which was totally voluntary as they were snoozing on the bed when I left.  Tango and Emma were napping on the bedroom floor.  Nothing out of place - such good dogs. I got them new toys at Costco and they seem to be a hit - all three are playing away as I type. They also got new banana peanut butter cookies which Winston has taste tested and approved.

Everyone seems happy and healthy. Violet continues to do well and Oliver is lively and ornery as ever - showing no signs of anything being amiss. Winston is a happy piggy in that we have had much nicer weather and he is spending the bulk of his days outside.  Today - not so much - its raining.  He did go out for a bit and get some grazing in before it started to sprinkle.  The rest of the ferrets and kitties are well.  This week I hope to tackle some spring cleaning in their rooms - getting rid of old, torn up toys, doing a deep clean to include windows, baseboards, etc and rearranging their rooms - they do love it when things are a bit different than the same old thing.

Next up for vet visits will be Charli and Tango next month - I haven't scheduled them yet. Then we will get the home visit for Winston and the ferrets - everyone but Madison needs their adrenal disease prevention pellet updated.  Since she has active adrenal disease she already got hers updated a couple of months ago. Then it will be time for a checkup for Aggie and Emma - it never stops!

I never posted the camera trap photos from the past week - there was one bird pic and a BUNCH of deer photos - they are prolific this time of year.  I will only post the good ones. It's also been windy - I the camera captured the windy leaves in kind of a cool shot - I will post that one as well.  While I am in critterland this week I will try to take some shots of the kitties and ferrets and post them as well.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Vet Visits and Other Stuff

As I type - Charli is barking wildly at the ferrets who are playing in their room - she watches them through the sliding glass door and wants to play so bad.  They are all chasing each other through the dryer tube having a grand time. Winston is 'bitching' at his bedroom door - he wants to be outside but it's rainy. The puppies are outside - they don't care if it rains - in fact, I think they kind of enjoy it.

This week has been crazy so far for the humans.  Phoebe and Oliver had their every six-month vet visit on Monday.  We did all the regular stuff - physical, fecal, blood work, etc.  Both of them look pretty good considering that Ollie will be 16 and Phoebe will be 13 (my zoo is getting old).  We didn't get the bloodwork results back until yesterday. 

Phoebe is perfect - not one number out of whack.  Her thyroid number was perfect - no need to adjust her medications and we got her prescription renewed.  Oliver wasn't quite perfect - but nothing was too whacky.  His white blood cell count was one digit outside of normal.  Last time he was at the top of the range so its basically no change and the vet wasn't all that concerned.  His BUN number was elevated - top of the normal range is 37 - he was 41.  BUN is associated with the kidneys and can indicate the start of kidney disease when elevated - but - his Creatinine was low - 0.9 is the start of the normal range and Ollie was 0.8.  So - since both kidney numbers were not elevated - it's likely not kidney disease.  His calcium number was also slightly elevated - 11.2 was the top of normal and he was 11.5.  There is a second calcium test we can do to get more details.  I will take Oliver along in April when I take Tango and Charli in for their annual stuff and they can do a quick blood draw.  Until then we are going to watch him closely.  Inflated calcium can be a sign of something more serious - but typically the number would be much higher than .3 above normal if we had something icky going on.

In the meantime - we are going to keep Ollie from stealing the ferret's raw diet cat food because it is very high in calcium and just keep an eye on him and make sure he is not showing any signs of illness.  At the moment his is his same ornery, active self.

Here are a few pics from the vet:

That's about it from here - I feel like this week has been 17 days long already...happy hump day!