Dart is a Shetland sheepdog and performed in agility trials until we left Maryland when he was five. Florida does not offer many trials and I could only find one place to train. We stopped doing agility but Dart continued expertly catching his flying disk and we did other things to keep him exercised.
During the last couple years, Dart has slowed down considerably. He has been diagnosed with arthritis and has some other issues that slow him down. We moved into our current home around two years ago. We are situated on a preserve that backs up to a marsh on the intracoastal waterway. The house had a fenced yard when we moved in. We found the local animals used our yard as a super highway, so we keep the fence gates open in the front and back. After a deer went through the fence and bent the posts, we removed that section of fence. Dart has always stayed in the yard even with the gates open and the fence section removed. When critters ran through the yard, Dart would chase them to the property line and return. When Regis and I would wander through the preserve behind our house, Dart never joins us. I thought Dart stayed in the yard because he was well behaved. I was wrong.
Dart was not using one of his hind legs recently, so I took him to the vet. An X-ray indicated there were no bone issues. The vet suggested an anti inflammatory/pain reliever to see if it was a soft tissue problem. After several days on the medication, Dart was transformed. I recently walked the path to the marsh and not only did Dart come out with me, but he ran ahead of me on the path he has never traversed. As we were leaving the lanai the other day, a young raccoon was doing cleanup under the feeder and Dart saw him. He chased that raccoon out into the preserve and leapt like a gazelle over a dead tree. When he finally stopped, he stared at me from behind that tree like he didn’t know how he got there and he needed me to rescue him. I told him “you got yourself into this pickle, you can get yourself out of it.” He returned like an old dog. He did the same thing again the next day. Now, we are closing gates and considering putting the sections back up.
Pip almost died early this morning. The birds have been staying out on the lanai and last night was very cold. We put a space heater near Pippen’s cage (woodpecker) and we keep the heat lamp on all the time for Pip and Squeak (killdeers). Since Sandy (sanderling) is housed with them, Sandy gets to enjoy the heat lamp also.
Regis woke up around 6:00 a.m. this morning (it is dark until almost 7:30) and checked on the birds to make sure they had mealworms. He found Pip laying in the mealworm dish hardly moving. He brought the bird in and spent 10 minutes trying to warm it by holding it in his hands and blowing on it. Regis got me to run a blow dryer on a rag to warm it up and then wrap the bird in it. After I did that, I got a heating pad and put it on my lap. I put the bird on the heating pad and held my hands over it. It was barely moving. It took a long time, but the bird eventually warmed up and revived. It has been active all day.
It is going to be even colder tonight, so I brought Squeak and Sandy in and set up a very large area in the house for the birds to roam. Pip and Squeak sleep together and I didn’t want them to be apart. I do not want to let Pip back outside until the bird is stronger. Sandy was perky today and Regis even saw the bird hovering. The bird is improving and I look forward to the day it starts flying around the house. Today all the birds were running around together in a little flock.
Pippen got a new cage today. It has a lot more room. He hated the process of moving to the new cage, but I think he will be much happier with the extra room once he settles in.
THE ARK WILDLIFE RESCUE AVIARY
I clean out the aviary at the Ark Wildlife Rescue once a week. Last Friday, I took a video to show the birds that wait outside the aviary hoping for some fish to be tossed to them. If there is extra fish available, we toss it to the wild birds. This week, we were short on fish. The residents get enough food that they are picky and when you have to cut up the fish, they will leave the heads and tails lying around to stink up the place and attract flies. We usually get smaller fish for the birds that can not eat the big fish. We did not have enough small fish and I had to cut up the big ones into small pieces. I gave the heads and tails to the pelicans, vultures, and wood storks hanging around. They were happy to have them.
There was a loon that I had to move from the swimming pool into one of the penned areas. Since the loon I tried to rescue (see here) last month was docile, I forgot to adequately grab the birds head and I was rewarded with several jabs to my hand. I quickly got the situation under control. I am not likely to forget next time.