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, September 30, 2014

September Month in Review

How in the world did it get to be the end of September?  Holy heck!

This last month has flown by.  Critters are all doing just great thankfully.  The month was busy with visitors, hectic schedules and lots of critter time.

Kitties are doing great - no health issues to report and they seem pretty content and happy.  Ferrets are pretty much the same - no issues to report thank goodness and they are all active and engaged - they make me laugh.  Pup is doing well but she is having a momentary lapse of knowledge on how to behave.  Not sure what her scoop is but will be happy when this phase has passed.  Piglet is fun and challenging and adorable.  His appointment for his heart test is tomorrow - I am trying not to stress about it.

Remember those September critter goals?
1.  Teach Winston how to lay down as one of his tricks.  Stretch goal of roll over... didn't even try
2.  Continue to make progress on harness training with a goal of him letting me put it on and snap it by the end of the month. We made progress here - getting him into the harness is total drama - but once he is in there he does okay - totally forgets he has it on and does his thing.  More work to do....
3.  Continue work on potty training - its going pretty well though. - Getting there - slowly - ugh - found an ugly surprise under the dining room table today....sigh
4.  Continue working with the ferrets so we can get them used to the pig with the ultimate goal of peaceful co-existence - but I think that will take longer than 30 days.  Making progress here as well - especially with Finn.  Some days he can do multiple hours with Winston with no escalation.  Some days Finn plays downstairs and then goes back up to bed and doesn't even interface with Winston at all.  Theo - still working on that but its better I think.  Girls are pretty good at interfacing with him.
5.  Brushing the kitties 2 - 3 times a week -- the cat hair around here is crazy.  Cat hair is still crazy - and I didn't even have time to pick up a brush.  Maybe next month....

So - there you have it - September recap.  I really hope October is not quite so crazy....

Monday, September 29, 2014

Potty Party

We are making some amazing progress with Mr Piglet in the potty training department - thank goodness.  Now - let me just say - Winston is a giant baby and does not like anything besides sunny and 75 degrees outside so we can forget about potty outdoors for the most part.  He especially hates rain and stands there looking pathetic and crying - it's quite sad.

So - since he is spoiled we have focused on litter box training.  It has been going fairly well.  I get him in the box and he gets a "cookie" and then he has to stay in the box til he does his business and then he gets another cookie.  I have been repeating this process every time he wakes from sleeping, gets done playing, finishes eating - or every two hours - whichever comes first.  I have noticed yesterday and today he has started getting in there on his own and doing his business - hooray!  If I hear him in there I get him a treat and give him all kinds of praise once he finishes.

Now - don't get too excited - we still have accidents.  Yesterday I got distracted and didn't encourage a box visit after a nap and that was all she wrote.  Today he was wresting with Oliver and "forgot". Still - we are making progress - I will take it...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Winston's New Carrier

I ordered a new carrier for Mr. Piglet and it arrived today.  He needed one because he can no longer stand up in the one we had been using - poor little dude - last trip to the vet was a bit uncomfortable. This one has room to grow and has wheels so I won't need to pick him up - which I am guessing in a few months might be a good thing.  This will also work well for the kitties and all the ferrets could easily fit in here as well...

60 Days

It's been 60 days since we lost our sweet Clooney.  I have to say that I feel like most people don't get me in this regard.  To them losing a pet is sad but somehow they get over it quickly and move on. For me - losing Clooney has been incredibly difficult.  The grief is not a weeping, in your face, feeling sad every minute of the day kind of feeling.  It's more of an emptiness, a dull, nagging ache - that feeling you have when a headache is starting but hasn't quite kicked off yet.

I miss him terribly - his sweet kisses, his sweet face, his smell... I miss our interactions and our time together - we had a special thing going.  I feel like my world is somewhat incomplete without him.  I experienced this with Isabel - she was a part of my life for a long time and she was my "first" kitty. Even years later I think of her with such fondness and sadness that she is gone.  Nigel was my sweet hedgehog boy and I miss having a hedgehog for sure.  I do think that he will be my only hedgehog though and I think of him often and miss him greatly.  With Clooney - he was my first ferret and let's be honest - I am crazy about ferrets.  My attachment to him has to do with learning everything I know about ferrets from him.  He was patient with me and generous and he was such a kind animal in showing affection and being unconditional.  Our bond was strong and its difficult to move forward.

I still have times of tears and sometimes I have a good laugh remembering his crazy antics.  I am so thankful for the documentation of his life and the pictures - the thousands of pictures.  I have captured his essence in images and words and for that I am grateful.

Time marches on and I adore my  loving little zoo.  The kitties, pup, ferret and piglet fill my heart with joy each day and I am thankful for each of them.  I try to cherish each day with them because time goes too fast and they will not always be with me.  I smile thinking of Nigel, Clooney and Isabel playing together at the rainbow bridge.

I miss you Clooney boy - more than you could ever imagine....

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The State of the Business

Look at these adorable black footed ferrets from the National Zoo
My little group of ferrets (commonly referred to as a business) are doing great!  They seem to have adjusted to the new routine we have since the piglet joined the family.

Theo is still a bit wild around the pig but its getting better.  He is less interested in Winston and it takes longer for him to get wound up and start biting than it used to.  Theo continues to be my super affectionate and ornery boy.  He is playful and active and seems to be doing just great healthwise.

Finn is really doing well when it comes to interfacing with Winston - we are up to a couple of hours at a time and in some cases Finn just losing interest and going back upstairs.  He continues to be my Dr ferret - checking out the humans and the other critters each day for ailments.  He too is active and healthy and doing just great!

Madison my kissy girl is fantastic...she is such a joyful little critter - always happy and full of sweetness and goodness.  She is a very go with the flow ferret and seems quite content with whatever comes her way.  He health seems great - she is overdue for a checkup as she was MIA when I took the ferrets in August....I need to get her scheduled soon.

Violet is doing great too - she is spending lots of time with her ferret siblings which she loves.  She is also hanging with her humans more than she used to which we love!!  Miss V is bright and active and doing just great!

Both of the girls do well with the piglet - they keep him in line by biting him on the jowls but they don't bite him hard enough to make Winston cry - just to make him stop doing what annoys them.  I wouldn't want to leave them unattended but I am much less worried about them interacting then I am with the boys.

All in all the business is doing amazingly well - for that I am so thankful!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stories of the Day

You know - if I am being honest - there aren't that many stories of the day:

1.  Its raining here which makes the ferrets and the kitties sleepy and makes the dog hide under the bed.
2.  We seem to be doing a little bit better each day on ferret/pig interaction - it used to be seconds before escalation into biting and other bad things - now we are into minutes and here lately we are approaching hours - I am holding out hope that some day we can let them run free together with supervision and without drama.
3.  Winston's echo-cardiogram is scheduled for 10/1.  I am so nervous about this - I so don't want there to be anything wrong with my piglet.  It's so hard not to stress out about it.  If you can spare a happy, hopeful thought or prayer for my little dude I would appreciate it.  I would be thrilled if they can't find any issues when they complete the tests and that this is just a noise they hear....
4.  Speaking of piglet - he is fully recovered from his shots - no limping or lameness and lots of activity and racing through the house today.  He is feeling frisky for sure.
5.  Not sure what the pig would do if he was an outside pig - he HATES rain and cries if you make him go outside.  Thank goodness he knows the litter box is available because there was no way he was going potty outside.  Potty training is improving - 1 accident today....

All in all it was a pretty laid back and low key day today.  We are in for another rainy and cloudy day tomorrow as well - guessing it will be more of the same.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Winston's Trip to the Vet

Winston had to see the vet today for a followup and some booster shots.  I had grand plans today that I would take him using his harness.  I got him into his harness with little fuss while he was eating. Then I got the leash hooked up and we practiced - he pretty much follows me so its all good.  Then we got to the front door and little Mr. put on the brakes - he was not going outside to a place he had never been.  So into the carrier he went.

He does great in the car.  He actually wasn't all that bad at the vet - loud but for the most part good. He weighed about 11 pounds today.  Wow - he is growing so fast!  Unfortunately they were still able to hear his heart murmur today as well which means we need to dig deeper to see what is going on in there.  In the coming weeks he will be scheduled for an echo-cardiogram and chest x-rays so we can find out what the scoop is with his little heart.  We will need to know this information so we can safely put him under anesthesia for his neuter that is scheduled on the 28th of October.  I think there are 3 possible outcomes - the first - that its just a noise and there is nothing evident found in his testing.  Second - that it is something we treat with medication or third - something that has to be corrected surgically.  Option 2 or option 3 don't sound all that great to me so I am hoping its just a noise....

I will wait to hear from the vet as to when his appointment will be - we will drop him in the morning and pick him up when he is all done - not sure when that will be.  Worrying about my little guy - he has no signs of anything being wrong so fingers crossed that its just something they hear and not something that will effect him.  Love that little pig....

As for his injections - they went in and the vet was kind enough to give him a dose of meloxicam which is like Aleve I think - it should keep him from being so sore and so far it seems to be working. He is much more active this time than he was last time.  He is napping now so we shall see how he feels when he wakes up.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunscreen and Pedicures

Little Mister is prone to sunburn - he has wiry hair but not enough to cover his skin fully and protect it from the sun.  He LOVES to lay in the sun and yesterday he spent a good bit of time outside with the hubs and he got a bit pinker than he normally is.  I did put sunscreen on him - really - I never thought that sentence would come out of my mouth - sunscreen on a pig....  Evidently I need a higher SPF factor for him.  It is a bit challenging to apply as he does't much like it.  Last night I applied a fairly think coat of baby oil (he doesn't like that so much either for the record) to the pinker parts and today he seems just fine.

Winston also gets hoof maintenance - geez - I want to be a pig.... I purchased a large emery board at the grocery and while he was laying out in the sun he was perfectly content to let me file his toes.  I am also thinking of purchasing some asphalt shingles and placing them by the back door so when he goes in and out he will walk on the rough shingles and self file his hoofs.  There is lots to learn about pig keeping I am finding.  It's a fun adventure though.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week In Review

Last week was just plain crazy!

Monday we had my brother in town - my critters adore him.  Sadly he is quite allergic to the kitties so they are not able to show him the love but he didn't do too bad in the stuffy nose department thankfully.  With him in town that meant we were on the go so the critters had to entertain themselves.

Tuesday I had to report for Jury Duty - UGH!  Emma, Winston and the kitties had the downstairs and the ferrets had our room and I was gone ALL DAY.  I got seated on jury around 11:30 and didn't get home until about 6:30.  It was a long day for the critters.

Wednesday - back downtown for more jury duty.  Since there was a forecast of rain we reversed the order and kitties and ferrets had downstairs and Winston and Emma had our room so Emma could be under the bed during the storms.  Again - a very long day for the critters.

Thursday - back downtown again - thankfully only for the morning and then we were excused. Thursday afternoon was spent digging out at work, trying to catch up at home and trying to get the gang back on a schedule.

Friday was our first normal day of the week and it felt great!  I think this week was hard on the critters as they were misbehaving and acting out all day - quite frustrating.

On Saturday we spent some quality time at home with them which I think we all enjoyed.

Which brings us to today - Sunday.  Winston slept in until 7.  He was a good boy using his box first thing this morning.  Since then we have had breakfast and play time.  He seems to be a happy boy. The ferrets are all still sacked out upstairs and the kitties are in various stages of waking up and getting going for the day.  Emma is sprawled out on the bed sleeping in with her dad.

I am glad to have things get back to "normal" around here....

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Potty Training - It's a Trial

Winston is struggling with getting the whole concept of potty training.  I think its frustrating for him and I know its frustrating for me.

I decided to do some research and found some interesting tidbits.  First off - I have to remind myself that he is only 11 weeks old - not even 3 months yet.  He is still a baby.... most of the articles say that between 3 - 6 months is when they learn to control themselves enough to hold it to go outside.

Outside is hit and miss - some days he does just great with outside - some days nothing - he refuses to pee outside.  Not sure what that's about.

I think our other challenge is that he is a pig that eats a few bites and then drinks and then eats and then drinks - this results in a huge amount of water consumption and that turns into a huge amount of pee.  I found a suggestion on a website today that we should wet his food and pick up his bowl when he eats.  This article suggests that the eat/drink/eat/drink behavior is not a requirement but just a habit that some pigs have.  I think I will give it a try tomorrow when I feed him and see how it goes.

As for number two - he totally has that mastered for some reason - every time in the box or outside - I think we have had one miss in about 5 weeks.

I am hoping things will continue to improve once he is neutered as well - that happens in late October.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Four Kitty Post

It's been forever since I did a kitty post:

In general the kitties are well - they all seem to be healthy and happy!

Oliver - he is still my ornery boy.  He is trying to get used to Winston - he is our ambassador of the zoo and gets along with everyone but Winston challenges him with his head butting and kitty bowling tactics.  They play often and when Winston gets too rough Ollie heads for higher ground. His health is fantastic and he is full of energy.

Phoebe - little Miss is overdue for a vet visit - I need to make an appointment for her but she is doing just great.  She is unsure of the piglet and avoids him most of the time.  Phoebe is still my toy kitty and brings her ball up every night for tossing.  All in all she is doing very well.

Aggie - my old girl is just perfect - no ailments to report.  Aggie is in denial we have a piglet and she pays him absolutely no attention.  She is active and interactive and occasionally I catch her playing with her toys like a spring chicken.  Very pleased with how she is doing.

Last but certainly not least - Miss Zoey.  My snagglepuss is not loving the pig - surprise, surprise! She is a pretty mellow girl otherwise - hanging out mostly downstairs but venturing up to sleep with us every now and then.  She is very stable healthwise  which is great given some of the challenges we have had with her.

Overall - there are no complaints in kitty land!!  :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Crazy Schedules

Right about now I am longing for our regular routine.  The last two weeks have been super crazy with lots going on at work for the humans, then my brother here for my dad's birthday and then the dreaded jury duty - of course I got picked...ugh.

As a result the critters have had much alone time - which is not necessarily a bad thing - its probably good for them to not have me around all the time.  The ferrets have been staying in our bedroom - which is where they would likely be if given the choice.  They have food, water, toys and their favorite sleeping spot in the closet so they seem quite content.

The pig and the dog share the downstairs with the kitties and all seems to go fairly well.  We are still working through potty training with Winston - its a slow process but we are making progress I think. I am so looking forward to having life return to normal days - you have no idea.

Hopefully only a couple more crazy days and then all should settle down for a bit.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pig and Dogs and Rugs Don't Mix

I am really not sure who is worse - Emma or Winston on the rugs in this house.  Emma does quite a number on looped rugs when she does her nesting/scratching on the carpet.  Winston made some pretty large bald spots on a shag rug the last few days - I think he thinks its like grass and he roots around until all the fibers are pulled out.

The rug in my dining room was beyond repair - that one was pretty much due to Emma and her scratching.  I pitched it and replaced it with - of all things - an outdoor patio mat.  It has been down on the floor for 3 days now and its been scratched on and rooted on with no issues to report.  At this time the rug in the entry has been turned face down in order to attempt to preserve it.  I will be heading to Lowe's for another patio mat for the entry as well.  Silly critters.

Naughtiness and Guests

My brother is in town for a quick visit and is brave enough to stay with us.  Before bedtime the critters are great - charming and friendly and wanting to interface with the new person at our house. After the lights go out - its a whole other story - not charming in the slightest.

Finn is still upset that the guest room is off limits to critters so he woke me around 4 am trying to scratch on the door - brat.  I really could not get him to quit so I brought him in our room and shut the door.  This upset Oliver who proceeded to wail - so I let him in....closed the door behind him - which made him wail even more.  Sigh.

Earlier in the evening piglet was trying to break out of his pen.  He does not normally do this until around 7 am....upon further investigation he was objecting to the fact that there was no water available.  Once I filled up his bowl he got a drink and went to bed.  Emma has been scratching on the carpet on and off...

Needless to say it's not been the most restful night....hopefully my brother is sleeping through it....

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

What's New @ the Zoo?

How about some general updates - we haven't done that for a bit:

Lets start with miss Emma - she is doing well!!  I think she loves having a pig.  I have noticed that some of her neurotic behaviors have decreased since Winston joined our family.  Even though he annoys her at times I think she loves him and he most definitely loves her.  We are feeling more and more comfortable leaving the two of them alone together.  They are learning each other's boundaries and can often be found playing together.

The Ferrets - in general - they are adjusting quite well to the new routine we have with them being upstairs during their downtime.  No one seems to mind it much and it keeps the boy ferrets from having unpleasant interactions with the piggy.

Violet is just great.  She is by far the most interactive with Winston - I would almost call them friends and while I wouldn't on purpose leave them unattended it would not be a huge issue if it happened.  They have figured each other out for sure. She has found her way into Winston's covers several times - not sure what that's about....  Violet seems quite healthy and happy and is quite playful with her humans....

Finn is my happy and sweet boy and he is doing great.  Things between he and the pig are improving slowly - they are much slower to escalate than Winston and Theo.  He can often interface with Winston now for a good bit of time - 45 mins before he gets so excited that pig rodeo starts.  I have hope that in a few months when Winston is a bit bigger and Finn is more and more used to him they will be all good.

Madison - my sweet, sweet and joyful girl.  As always she is full of cuddles and kisses.  Like Violet - she does well with Winston - they are not quite as friendly but close.  I can let them interface without much risk of escalation.  Maddie is great - happy, healthy and fully engaged.

Theo is my all boy all the time.  He is full of mischief, affection and loves to find trouble.  I think things between he and Winston are improving as well - but we have a long way to go.  With him it totally depends on the day - some days he is not particularly interested and some days it takes him 2 seconds to bite on the pig.  In general he is just great - full of happiness and orneriness and always good for some lovies with his humans.

The Kitties -  in general - the kitties are well!  Everyone seems happy and content.  I am pleased with how they are doing.  Everyone seems to be in good health which is just how I like it.

Oliver - he is trying to figure out the pig - Winston loves him but sometimes the piglet is a bit rougher than Oliver would like.  This results in head bonking and biting.  For the most part they are good though.  Oliver has been less into trouble these days - the orneriness factor has gone down a notch or two.

Zoey - my snarly girl is doing great - her health seems quite good and she has been hanging out with me quite a bit lately.  She has no love for the piglet and pretty much avoids him.  She will tolerate sharing the water dish so long as Winston doesn't get too close.

Phoebe is going through a rebellious phase - pushing the limits and getting into trouble - little turkey. Her health seems to be good and she seems to be a happy.  Not sure what has her pushing my buttons but I hope this phase passes quickly.  She is still BFFs with Oliver and still not BFFs even remotely with Aggie.

Speaking of Aggie - my eldest girl is fab.  She is quite happy and very healthy and in complete denial that we have acquired a pig.  She sure seems content and is engaged with the critters and with the humans.  I am quite pleased.

Which brings us to Winston - that little pig has stolen our hearts.  He is such a great addition to the zoo.  He is doing just great - growing and learning each day.  He is very much a creature of habit - he likes his schedule to be the same each day.  He is good about putting himself to bed and he gets up at the same time every day.  Sadly for me it much earlier than I want to get up...  In the last week he has decided that he likes raisins, that he can do both up and down the stairs, that he is tolerating starting to let me put his harness on and that he has almost completely forgotten where he is supposed to go potty.

And lastly - its been 44 days since my sweet Clooney passed.  I should be receiving his special urn in the next week or two - I can't wait to see it.  I miss him so much still and think of him every day.

So there you have it...

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Saturday Stories

Raisins!!  They might be the key to potty training.  We tried raisins before and he didn't care for them but evidently his palate has evolved since then.  Since the raisins came out and they have only ever been given when he is in the litter box - he associates them with going potty I think.  Its good stuff - no misses since that started.  Fingers crossed....

Duct Tape Breech....I couldn't figure out how Violet made it into Winston's pen and bed last night. We had a duct tape breech.  You see - the ferrets were crawling behind the dresser so I covered the space between the wall and the dresser with tape.  Its been about a month and they finally scratched their way through the tape - reinforcements have been added.

Flea and tick - its that time again - Frontline for the ferrets and the kitties.  Made me a tiny bit sad that I have nine vials of medicine and only 8 little furries to apply it to.  I miss you Clooney - more than you could ever know....  Fun Fact - pigs don't typically get fleas so no treatment necessary for Winston.  Emma has her Seresto Collar that lasts for 8 months so she is good to go.

Feeding Cabinets- Today I am on the hunt for feeding cabinets for the kitties and the dog.  If I can find these then I can take the final gates down in the lower level - blocking only the steps.  Woohoo!  I am thinking a feeding cabinet for the dog with doors I can open when its time for her to eat and when Winston is not around and then using the surface of the top of the cabinet for the kitties food. They can easily hop up to get their dinner.  The ferrets will have an upstairs feeder that will sit behind the TV cabinet where they can get to it but the dog and the pig cannot....wish me luck...

Friday, September 05, 2014

Washed Up - Simon's Cat

This one is sooo Zoey - that girl loves to find clean laundry:

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bad Habits

See - my bad habits that started in August with the blog are continuing.  Things are so busy I just can't seem to squish in sitting down to write each day. Bad Bad Bad

Speaking of bad habits - we were doing so great with potty training with Winston and then all of a sudden he has forgotten where he needs to pee.  He is great about the litter box for number 2 but peeing is all of a sudden a challenge - he doesn't want to go in the box or go outside - just on the carpet - oh joy.

Theo still insists on trying to eat the pig - especially his ears and Finn is still trying to ride him so at this point we are keeping the boys separated.  Ferrets have free run of the house from about 5 pm to 8 am.  During the day they are in our room snoozing away while Winston is downstairs.  It's not optimal - not what I want it to be but it works and no one seems terribly unhappy.  The girl ferrets have a bit more freedom as they are not aggressive with Winston so I can let them interact with supervision.  Violet does bite on him but it seems to be a soft playful bite and Winston doesn't cry or try to get away.

Oliver and Zoey have the bad habit of needing to be on me 24 hours a day.  I cannot be stationary for 2 minutes without one of them or both of them trying to get on me.  While I love the affection - and they both get plenty of attention throughout the day - believe me - it makes me insane... they have no regard for personal space.  Phoebe likes to lay on me but she doesn't do it all the time and when she does she is still and not in my face.  Aggie doesn't ever want to lay on me - only next to me - I can deal with that...

Emma is still my carpet scratcher - although - I think its better since the pig came.  I think he keeps her occupied and thinking about other things and she scratches much less than before - this is GOOD!!!

We all have bad habits I guess...hopefully I can get Winston back on track as that is the most messy bad habit on the list....

Monday, September 01, 2014

September Critter Goals

So - here it is - September...ah a shiny new month.  I have set a few critter goals for this month.  They are:

1.  Teach Winston how to lay down as one of his tricks.  Stretch goal of roll over...
2.  Continue to make progress on harness training with a goal of him letting me put it on and snap it by the end of the month.
3.  Continue work on potty training - its going pretty well though.
4.  Continue working with the ferrets so we can get them used to the pig with the ultimate goal of peaceful co-existence - but I think that will take longer than 30 days.
5.  Brushing the kitties 2 - 3 times a week -- the cat hair around here is crazy.

Only 5 goals - could set a giant list but that is just not achievable so I am limiting myself to 5.  I will keep you posted on how it goes....