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!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Frame Filling

Many moons ago I had found a bunch of small frames in the dollar bin at Target.  I had also received a few cute small frames for gifts so I framed a pic of each of the critters.  Since then the zoo has had many additions.  I ordered the frames to add the rest of the gang last year but never filled them up.  When I was cleaning yesterday I ran across the bag with the frames and got inspired.  Here is what the old and the new look like today:

Violet (I know - it doesn't even look like her - she used to be so dark) and Theo

Phoebe, Aggie and Oliver

The pups - Charli, Tango, Juliett, and Miss Emma

Bash-y and Fiona

Miss Madison

Kai (its hard to make out - but it's him standing on his carrier at the vet's office reading his chart - so Kai) and Tabitha

Last but not least - Piggers - 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Houston....we have mutants!!

On Friday we received the results from the genetic testing we had done on the puppies.  The news was not what we were hoping for.

Our fingers were crossed that they would be Normal/Normal meaning they had two normal copies of the MDR1 gene.  Sadly, the results were that Tango and Juliett were Normal/Mutant - meaning that if they were to have puppies they would have the potential to pass the mutant gene on (which can't happen as they are both fixed) and they COULD experience issues with the list of drugs related to this condition.

Charli was Mutant/Mutant meaning that if she ever had puppies she would definitely pass along a mutant gene (again, she is fixed so not a concern) and she will  MOST LIKELY experience issues with the list of drugs related to this condition.

While it was not the news we were hoping for, in the big scheme of things there are far worse things the dogs could have.  I think that knowing they have this condition is the largest part of the battle here - we can manage around it by using drugs that are not on the list and if for some reason we need to use something on the list we can dose accordingly and monitor closely.

I am really glad we got the testing done.  It's not free ($180 total cost for the three pups) but if you have a dog that is classed as a herder, in my opinion, it is well worth the money to know if they have the condition.

Our post about the testing (in case you missed it) can be found here

The link to where we got the testing done can be found here

The link to the list of breeds that could have this mutation can be found here

Thursday, January 04, 2018

MDR1 Genetic Testing

On the 2nd of January, I sent off samples to Washington State University to test the puppies for MDR1.  Multi-Drug Resistance is a genetic mutation that is found in herding dogs.  As I understand it - if they have this mutation they are missing a protein that processes medication which allows the drug to build up in their system, essentially causing an overdose or toxic condition.

There are three possibilities for the results of this testing - first it could come back negative (two normal copies of the gene in question) - that would be the best case scenario.  Second, they could be carriers - meaning they COULD be sensitive to the drugs in question - it would mean they have one mutant gene and one normal gene.  Third - they could have two mutant genes which would mean they most likely WOULD be sensitive to the drugs in question.  The good news is that if we know about the condition we can manage around it - making sure the vet prescribes meds that are not on the list or - if we need to use a medication that could cause an issue we can manage the dosing accordingly.

The tests should be run next Monday and we should have results next Friday, January 12th.  Fingers crossed they are negative...I will post again once we have results!

Drugs Affected by the MDR1 Gene Mutation:

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

2017 - Year in Review

I can't believe we have started a new year again.  Time just marches on with a quick pace.

All in all 2017 was a pretty great critter year.  Here is the current zoo roster:

Aggie - kitty - 20 years
Oliver - kitty - 15 years
Phoebe - kitty 13 years

Winston - pig - 3 years

Emma - dog - 14 years
Tango - dog - 1 year
Juliett - dog - 1 year
Charli - dog - 1 year

Madison - ferret - 6 years
Theo - ferret - 5 years
Violet - ferret - 5 years
Tabitha - ferret - 4 years
Kai - ferret - 4 years
Bash - ferret - 3 years
Fiona - ferret - 3 years

The kitties are well!  From a health perspective we have a few issues but nothing that is super serious.  We continue to monitor Oliver and Phoebe's thyroid levels as they continue to take their medications to keep their levels stable.  Aggie has the first signs of kidney disease - her numbers are a tiny bit inflated but nothing too crazy.  We have put her on a supplement and a kidney-friendly food and she seems to be doing quite well. 

Winston the pig - he is such a character.  He had a good year from a health perspective with no major issues to report.  He spent the early part of the year adjusting to having the puppies around.  He has established himself as third in the herd - Mom is top of the heap, then Dad - then Winston and then the dogs.  We don't leave them unattended as that can be dangerous but they do co-exist outdoors fairly well.  The pig keeps me on my toes - did I mention that pigs are hard?  I adore him and we spend lots of time together.  We are lucky, he is a pretty well-behaved pig most of the time.

The pups - Emma is good - a bit slower than she used to be but still quite active and often the instigator of puppy shenanigans.  Overall her health is good for an aging dog.  The puppies are quite crazy and they are giant dogs with puppy brains which has its challenges.  They are pretty good dogs for the most part.  We need to spend more time on training this year.  We also need to get them past the need to fight for dominance.  Charli and Tango really get into it trying to be the top dog.  Juliett gets the brunt of Tango's frustration and Winston tries to referee - he is quite proud of himself when he breaks up the squabble.  All in all the pups have had a good year and have come a long way.

The ferrets - that little business of joy and happiness - I love that crazy bunch.  All of the ferrets are doing quite well.  2017 saw Violet get her diagnosis of insulinoma and we spent some time trying to find a good dosage of medication for her.  Once we found it, she has been amazingly stable.  Knock on wood!!  She is doing just great.  Madison had her annual checkup and is very healthy for a senior ferret.  The rest of the gang is due for annual exams and updates to their adrenal implants.  Madison had hers updated - they work like a charm!  Everyone seems happy, healthy, active and engaged - I am quite pleased with how they are doing.

We had a good year - minor health issues, no losses and lots of love - no complaints.

We are realistic in that several of the zoo members are getting up there in age.  While we are hopeful that 2018 will be another year with no losses to our furry family - we prepare for the worst knowing that our babies have had long and happy lives.  I would love to be writing a post like this in early January of next year with Aggie, Emma, Madison, Violet and the rest of my crazy gang happy and healthy.  My fingers are crossed...

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bed Cleanout = Piglet Nervous Breakdown...

Oh good lord - I just cleaned out Winston's bed, much to his dismay and disappointment.  I found all sorts of goodies in there - missing socks, one of my favorite t-shirts, part of the puppy Halloween costumes, etc. 

I try to do these chores while he is outdoors but it has been cold and with his eye thing he hasn't wanted to stay outside for long and I really wanted to get this one off my list of to-dos.  So - he tried everything he could think of, crying, blocking the door, attacking the broom, laying on the ripped up paper so I couldn't move it, stealing the garbage bag I was putting the paper in, making a hole in the bag to let the paper be free in his bed again....geez.

At last, I got the task done and got the first of his three loads of laundry out of the dryer.  This appeased him somewhat as he loves it when I do his laundry, especially if I use fabric softener.  I gave him two new pieces of brown paper and he is happily rebuilding his nest as I type...spoiled pig!!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Piggy Squinty Eye

Usually, it's the kitty (Ollie) who suffers from the very technical squinty eye.  The last few days it has been the piglet who is experiencing eye discomfort.  It's hard to tell if it is something that got in his eye, or if it is a result of his seasonal allergies, but either way, he has been a bit uncomfortable.

He is good about letting me futz with him so long as he gets to check everything out before you do anything.  For instance - when I flush his eye he has to check out the syringe, put it in his mouth, smell it, etc.  I did flush his eye several times but it didn't seem to be doing much so I decided to use the veterinary eye ointment I have for the kitty.  I called the piggy vet and got approval and then let Winston check out the tube and smell the stuff before I stuck it in his eye.  It's working on two fronts - first, it is decreasing the swelling of the lids of his eyes which is great and second it is soothing his eyeball which he seems quite relieved about.

I will say I am quite fortunate that he is a willing patient.  Last night he let me pry his eye open with my fingers and make sure there was nothing in there.  I wanted to be sure there was not a foreign body and I also wanted to make sure that the swelling was not causing his eyelashes to rub against his eye.  He let me put the ointment on a q tip and put it on his eye as well - he is a very tolerant boy.

Today his eye is looking much better - still red, still swollen but he is able to open it a bit and I don't think it is hurting him at all.  Through all of his eye issues he has been fever free, had a great appetite and has been very active so I don't think he is ill - I think it is confined just to the eye.

As I type he has gone outside to explore and graze....hopefully he will be back to 100% in a couple of days.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Happy Gotcha Day

Oh my goodness - one year ago today we brought these three crazy munchkins into our world:

Tango, Charli and Juliett have turned our world upside down and we wouldn't have it any other way.  They have turned into giant, lovely, sweet, unruly babies that we adore.  It's hard to remember what our pre puppy world was like....




And - here they are now - big, beautiful babies:

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Tango on the left, Charli in the middle and Juliett on the right