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!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year in Review - Happy New Year!!

All in all - 2016 was a pretty good critter year....

We did experience one loss this year - our sweet Zoey in March.  She passed peacefully at home surrounded by kitties and ferrets.  I miss that spunky girl:

We also had some additions to our menagerie - in December we welcomed Tango, Juliett and Charli into our family - we are so enjoying them!!

From a health perspective we had a good year.  Winston had his annual exam in May and did well - thank goodness for vet house-calls.  He is a healthy pig - no signs of the heart murmur he had when he was younger.  Emma just had her latest vet checkup and for going on 14 she is in tip top shape.  The kitties had some issues - a thyroid number outta whack for Ollie, a bit of pudge for Aggie - these have been addressed and we are in good shape.  Phoebe didn't have any issues found at her vet visit which was great.  Phoebe, Oliver and Emma all go in for dental cleanings on January 27th along with the puppies who get their next round of shots.  Speaking of the puppies - they are happy and healthy and growing like crazy!  They had their 12 week shots and go back on the 27th of January for their last parvo and distemper shots and their first rabies....  And last - the ferrets.  Bash-y had a kidney stone which he passed on his own and he hasn't had any issues since.  Madison lost all of her hair in a coat change/adrenal disease combo and Violet was diagnosed with insulinoma.  Bash is fine - super healthy and doing well.  Madison had the adrenal implant injected to treat her symptoms and she is doing amazing.  She has a lovely coat of hair and has gained a bit of weight - she is doing just great. As a precautionary measure we went ahead and started all of the ferrets on the implant to prevent the onset of adrenal disease.  And Miss Violet - she is happy and active and not having any issues with the prednosone but her number is just a bit lower than we would like it.  We have not taken further action as of yet as we want to treat the symptoms of the disease - of which she has none.  We are most definitely on Violet watch and will take her in for a glucose test again mid to late January.  All in all - for an aging zoo we are in pretty great shape.  I know folks will ask so - Aggie will be 19 in 2017 - holy heck, Emma will turn 14, Oliver will be 14 as well and Phoebe will be 12.  Winston will be 3 in July.  Puppies will turn 1 in September.  Ferrets - Maddie will turn 6, Theo and Violet will turn 4, Kai and Tabby will turn 3 and Fiona and Bash will turn 2.

I like to think that the babies have a nice life here with us - a life of happiness, full bellies, warm places to sleep and lots of critter siblings.  I am excited to see what 2017 holds for both the furries and the humans.  Here are some favorite snaps from the past year...random pics - literally thousands to choose from!


Charli, Tango and Juliett



Aggie, Phoebe and Oliver

Phyllis - our writing spider who spent the summer with us


Winston and Emma

Who can forget my visit to see Esther the Wonder Pig


Oliver and Fiona


Tabby, Fiona and Bash


Winston and his friend Nimoy the lizard



Tabby, Bash and Fiona





Thursday, December 29, 2016

General Updates

So - this zookeeper has been taking a much needed rest after the craziness of our Christmas week.  I still haven't taken any pictures of the critters with their new Christmas goodies so I will tell you about them and try to get my act together on pictures some other day.

Let's start with the piglet....  he had a stocking full of new piggy toys - I went for ones with different textures.  He also got two new puzzle toys - one he likes - its wooden with discs that slide and you can hide cookies under them.  The other is a plastic puzzle that has doors, pegs and discs - he quickly figured it out but doesn't play with it as much.  The male puppy Tango, however, loves it and plays with it several times a day regardless of whether it has cookies or not.  In Winston's stocking was a particularly successful toy - it is a dog bone with a hole drilled in each end.  The hole happens to be the perfect size to hold some of Winston's favorite cookies - Scooby Snacks.  I put them in the bone and put it in his room and he plays with it for about 45 minutes while he gets the cookies out.  Happy piggy!!

TRIXIE Pet Products Flip Board, Level 2

Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Dog Puzzle
KONG Extreme Goodie Bone, Large
Emma - she got about a zillion toys in her stocking.  I also got her a new treat ball which is hit or miss.  Some days she plays with it - other days she has no interest.  She also got a new sweater.

Emma and the puppies got an iFetch - its a contraption that you put in a mini tennis ball and it randomly comes out one of the sides.  So far Tango is the most interested.

The puppies also got about a zillion toys in their stockings as well as Seresto collars to protect them from fleas and ticks.

The kitties got a new play mat - they love having things to lay on and Phoebe in particular is in love with the toys that hang down.

And last but certainly not least - by far the most favorite critter present of this Christmas Season.  I ordered the ferrets this crazy tent/ball pit combo - oh good lord - they LOVE it.  400 count them balls in the one end, a tunnel that connects and then the tent on the other end which is filled with blankets and cat beds.

The ferrets also had super stuffed stockings and are enjoying hoarding their new toys into their respective piles.

All in all I think they had a pretty great Christmas!

As I type this everyone is in for the night - tucked into their beds.  Puppies are doing quite well and settling into a pretty great routine.  Tango and Charli have tucked themselves into bed the last two nights.  Potty training is going pretty well.  In the last 5 days we have had 3 accidents - not bad.   think Emma really enjoys having them around!

Winston is still not amused that we have the puppies but things are calming down.  I am able to tuck him in each night and give him loves without protest.  Slowly but surely he is coming to grips with the fact that the herd has grown.

The kitties are doing just great - they are happy and healthy.

The ferrets are all well.  Violet continues to do well with her medication and she and her siblings are hilarious in that ball pit - I must get a video....

I guess that is it from here.  Looking forward to 2017!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Pup Ornament and Stockings

When we get a new baby - we get a Christmas stocking and an ornament --

I adore this ornament - I wish they had ferrets as one of the charm options but nope....

And their new stockings:

Yep - we call her Charli for short

Monday, December 26, 2016

New Critter Clock

I ordered this new clock back in October and then I got so sick I never did anything with it.  Now that I am feeling better I decided I should print out some photos and get it hung up.  It's in our entryway and I love how it turned out:

We have new babies Juliett, Charli and Tango at 12, Winston at 1, Maddie and Violet at 2, Bash, Fiona and Tabby at 3, Aggie at 4, Tango and Charli at 5, a bucket of ferrets at 6, Oliver and Phoebe at 7, Theo and Kai at 8, Juliett at 9, Ollie, Aggie and Phoebe at 10, Emma at 11.... everyone is on there at least once...  :)  Love this crazy bunch of mine!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Welcome to the Family - Tango, Juliett and Charlotte (Charli) + Puppy Supplementals

Welcome to the longest (and maybe the cutest) blog post ever.... If you are reading this its likely very close to Christmas Day - Merry Christmas - and you are now in on the secret we have been keeping for almost a month.  We decided to keep these little guys a surprise and unveil them at our annual Christmas party - so hard!

On December 4th we added three 10 week old Scotch Collie puppies to our menagerie.  Our sweet border collie Emma will be 14 years old in March so the hubs and I have been thinking about adding babies to our family for a bit.  We wanted to have Emma be their teacher - she is such an awesome dog!  Emma is in good health and quite active so we hope having babies around will keep her young and on her toes.  These sweet babies were born on September 21, 2016.

In the car on the way home

So - without further ado - welcome to our family!!!

Meet the beautiful and shy Juliett:

Meet the silly, funny and lovely Charli:

Meet the gregarious boy full of personality Tango:

I will be writing Puppy Supplementals between now and Christmas to capture the shenanigans these three will bring to the party!


Okay - not really a puppy supplemental - but more a pig supplemental.  Wow!  We have one pissed off pig!!!  I went in his room after playing with the puppies - didn't really think a thing about it but I smelled like them and he was not amused.  We had the biggest altercation we have ever had since we got him as a piglet and he got in large amount of trouble.  He was swiping, biting, lunging, charging - you name a crappy pig behavior and you can pretty much be sure it happened.  UGH!  I went back later to see if he had calmed down - um - no.  No fancy tuck in tonight - just a blanket on him so he isn't cold - hoping things calm down....


I went on a pet store run to get some puppy supplies - which included new beds.  As you can see - they love them....  LOL!

On the pig front - I think he actually felt guilty for his behavior yesterday and has been very sweet all day.  Tonight when I tucked him in he crawled in my lap - all 90 pounds of him.  He hasn't done that since he was a piglet.  I am glad we are all made up - I don't like it when we fight.


So I have to say - these little guys are so mellow and so good.  While we have some work to do on potty training (they are only 10 weeks old) they do great about going to bed.  I have been putting them to bed around 9 and they complain for a few minutes but then they settle down and there is not a peep from them until I get them up in the morning.  So fortunate!


Poor little pups - they had a long day today with me being in the office from 7:30 - 5:30 today. Luckily our pet sitter was able to swing by a couple of times throughout the day to let them out to play.  The weather was cruddy to top it off so needless to say they were happy when I got home to let them out.  They were good babies with only a couple of piddles inside.  Such good babies!  Winston is still unimpressed but is settling down.  At least he is not being aggressive with me - but he is crabby for sure.


Oh boy.... landscaper came and used the blower right by the sliding glass doors.  Three completely freaked out puppies... poor little ones were scared to death.  Juliett ran and hid behind a piece of furniture in our bedroom and would not come out.  Charli was panicked because she couldn't find Juliett and Tango was upset but recovered more quickly than the girls.  Needless to say - they were not all that anxious to go back to the living room tonight.


We are starting to establish a good routine around here.  Babies get up when we do - they go out back and run around while I feed the pig.  When they come in - Winston goes out.  The run and romp and play for a bit and then around 8:30 I feed them breakfast and let them play in 'their room'  which is the master bathroom - we have converted it for the time being to puppy central.  It's filled with toys and beds and bowls.  They play for a bit and then nap,  Then outside in the front yard for some play time and then indoor play time.  By that time Winston wants to come in and nap in his bed - then the puppies and Emma can go out back and play for a bit.  They nap around 5 for a bit - I feed them about 6:30 and then its play time and trips outside til bedtime which is 9 pm.  Rinse and repeat....


Naming a pet is an important thing - it's what they are stuck with their whole lives and you want it to reflect their personalities.  I named Emma (dog) after my favorite ball player Emmitt Smith.  Winston is named after the town he was born in.  My mom named Aggie (kitty), Oliver's name was chosen because it started with a vowel, I named Madison, Violet, Kai, and Bash,  Hubs named Phoebe, Tabitha and Fiona.  Hubs recently became a pilot and he wanted to name the puppies after the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.  We were in total agreement about Tango and Juliett.  Charli was a compromise - hubs wanted Sierra and I wanted Charlotte which is where she was born - so Charlotte it is and we call her Charli....

Related image




Charli (left) and Tango


Tango and Emma

Playing out front with Emma supervising (lower left)

Charli figured out what the bed was for

Visiting with Winston through the door - he has likely made his snout shorter trying to get to them through the glass


So - the puppies love to play outside and I have been letting them as much as possible.  When Winston is outside we take them out front and stay with them because there is a large opening where the front walk is (thinking a new project of a gate for the Father in Law). When Winston is inside they get to go out back which is fenced.  I send them out with Emma who does her business and runs around and then she wants back in but the puppies are content to stay out playing with leaves and chewing on sticks.  I had been letting them play out there by themselves - checking on them every 5 - 10 minutes to make sure I had eyeballs on all three.  Well - I checked and only found one - Charli. Crud - I called and called and made my way all the way around the yard inside the fence - nothing.  I went out the front door and called - thankfully Tango came right away.  I put him inside with Charli and Emma and I started looking for Juliett.  She is quite timid and shy and I was fearful that she would hide rather than coming when called.  I was right.  After an hour of tromping around the woods in 34 degree weather I finally found her.  She had found a space between two large rocks and wedged herself in there.  She was cold and scared and it took some coaxing to get her to come out.  I scooped her up and we headed inside.  She was very clingy and wanted to stay in my lap for quite awhile. Poor baby!!  I am so glad I found her - there is nothing worse than that feeling of panic....  The gang is fine and back together again.  Add filling in holes where puppies can fit under the fence  to the TO DO list for the weekend!


Puppies are doing just great!  They seem happy and healthy and like they are adjusting well.  Collies in general are quite shy and timid so we are working on them not being afraid of things.  It takes some patience.  The puppy escape hatch - the hole under the fence - has been patched and I think they are safe and sound until they find another way out.... little turkeys.  Emma seems to really be enjoying them - she is full of energy - spends way more time outside and enjoys playing with them. Winston is still grumpy but getting better day by day - I think he is getting used to the new smells both inside and out.  Babies are in 'their room' (aka master bath) with full bellies taking a nap. Winston is in because its raining.  I am going to take the opportunity to run some errands and get some work done while its quiet. Some pics from the last couple of days:

Sleepy babies - Juliett top, Tango right and Charli left




Not sure where Tango was while I was snapping pics - I will get some of him in the next day or two...


The puppies LOVE the great outdoors - I am so happy about this as Emma hates outside.  In her mind its for going potty and not much else.  The little ones love hanging out chewing on sticks and pine cones and wrestling in the grass.  They were just out for 1.5 hours and have come in for their breakfast.  Our routine is breakfast at around 8 and then some playtime in their room so I can get some things done without monitoring three puppies.  They play and nap in there til 10:30 or 11 and then they get to come out and play.  Winston has his breakfast about 7:30 and then hangs out inside for 30 minutes til the puppies come in so he can take over the back yard.  I won't be introducing the puppies to the giant pink turd any time soon.  He is certainly much better than he was that first day but he is still a grumpy little snot.  Sigh...  Here are a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure:

The little girls - Charli in front and Juliett close to the bed so she can get under in a hurry if she needs to




Tango with his stick


Puppies are doing so well.  They are active and getting braver by the minute.  We are battling the urge to eat pig poop.  We had to pry a dead bird out of Tango's mouth - but other than those adventures - they are fabulous.  Still working on potty training.  It's going as well as can be expected....

Charli snoozing on her horsey


They go out of the fence pretty much every time they go outside now - will be glad when they are too big to fit through.  Thankfully they don't go far.... geez.  They have also spread their wings and decided they want to take advantage of the whole back yard as well - much harder to keep an eye on them.  They have worn me out this afternoon so they are now napping in their room....

A super sacked out Tango

Guess who discovered toilet paper....sigh

We have three very healthy puppies and one very healthy senior dog - thank goodness!!  Puppies went in for their vet visit today along with Emma.  They got weighed - Tango and Charli weigh 18 pounds and Juliett 17.  Emma weighed 51 pounds - she has gained a bit since last time.  They all got their physicals and their vaccinations and everyone was good to go.  They were well behaved and cooperative for the vet.  They about made me deaf on the way there - Charli and Tango were not a fan of the car.  Juliett and Emma were fine.  On the way home everyone did much better - much quieter but unfortunately Charli got a bit car sick towards the end of the journey.  She got a quick rinse off in the tub and toweled off - no worse for the wear....  Everyone has had their breakfast - a bit late - and now they are napping after their big adventure.

Emma and Juliett

Laying down waiting for the Dr to come in




Not sure what to think - they can hear a barking dog in the other room


I was at the grocery store and saw these and thought maybe the pups would like them...  I think I was right!!


Juliett enjoying hers under the bed


Tango - he likes carrying it around as much as he likes chewing on it...

I am watching Emma closely - always worries about choking hazards.  The puppies thankfully do not have a strong enough bite to break off any pieces - at least not yet...


I think the puppies are feeling better!!  Considering it is 3:47 am and I am writing a puppy supplemental....  The puppies had a very mellow day yesterday.  I don't think they were feeling 100% as a result of their vet adventure/vaccinations.  They were playing and eating and pottying normally - just not as full of piss and vinegar as usual.  They certainly appear to be over it and they are raring to go after a day of rest.  Ugh!  Guess I am getting a good jump on the day's to do list.


OMG - they are making up for a calm day!!  These puppies are making me a bit nutty today.  Tango has had his mouth on everything in the house I think.  Charli has peed in the living room two times today because she wigs out about having to go out front when Winston is out back.  Juliett is even more neurotic that Emma - afraid of everything.  She has to be extricated from under the bed several times a day.  Charli and Tango continue to go outside the fence and then have to be gathered - which they are not cooperative about.  I know my frustration is due to stress and trying to wrap up at work for the year - but - the puppies are having some play time in their room for a bit.  Mommy needs a break.


We had a jail break last night - a very poopy jail break....oh the stench!  While we were at a Christmas party the girls squeezed through their containment field - Tango was a good boy and stayed where he should have been.  All three puppies made a stinky deposit - 2 in the bathroom on the tile thankfully. One of them was desperate to get outside so they made quite a mess right by the door.  Cup half full - at least they did try to get to outside - that is a good sign.  Hubs and I did the tag team cleanup - he ran the carpet shampooer by the door and I got out the mop and tackled the bathroom.  It didn't take too long to clean up and we have a machine - we call it the destinker - that takes away odors.  While the puppies were outside playing we let the machine kill the left over icky smell.  Everyone went to bed and we all woke up this morning with a new attitude.  Puppies have been outside for playtime and potties.  Right now they are in their room napping after having their breakfast.  Today will be warmer and they can have some outside time - likely in the front yard so I don't have to chase them after a fence escape.  I will be glad when they get just a bit bigger and can't fit through the fence anymore!!


It's not their first ever bath but its their first with me - they did great.  Charli went first and did well - she was well behaved and didn't cry.  Tango went next - he cried like a girl...LOL.  He did like being shampooed but once we moved to rinse - the crying started again.  Juliett - my timid girl who is afraid of everything - she did best of all.  I saved her til last thinking it was going to be awful.  She kinda liked the warm water and loved getting shampooed.  They all love being toweled off.  Now they are sleeping under the bed - I shampooed carpets and they were not impressed with the evil, scary, noisy machine.


Well the secret is out and the puppies have been introduced to  family and friends - they have all done so well.  They have been friendly and polite to strangers and very patient with crazy schedules and very busy humans.  Tomorrow we get to open puppy presents!!!  Merry Christmas