2018 is not a year I want to do over.
While many good things happened, it seemed there were many sad events too. One close to home was the loss of our sweet Wachtelhunde, Dory. Dory had many medical crises in her 14 years, including a broken elbow on one leg and a stabilizing pin in the other, sticks in the back of her throat, abscesses, regular seizures, porcupine quills…lots of vet visits. But she was always happy. And when we brought our new pup Neva into her life, she became a pup again. She adored Neva and vice versa. But her love for anything edible led to her to her demise. A soaker pad from a pork chop tray and a soggy gravy covered dishcloth, improperly disposed of caused a major blockage which meant major surgery. Complications ensured and she left us, 10 days after her 14th birthday, at home where she died in our arms.
The rehab world was maybe slightly less hectic, thanks in part to a newly established wildlife custodian in Thunder Bay. Jenn has great insight and what appears to be a natural knack for rehabbing the raptors. So she has been able to intercept injured birds coming my way from the eastern and northern sides of our region. And my regular foster custodians have been my life savers too! And Erika, you have gone above and beyond the call of duty so many times…Thank you thank you thank you…
But there were still lots. From hummingbirds to bald eagles, chipmunks, squirrels, a sweet fox kit, a not-so-sweet beaver kit, more Broadwing hawks than ever on which West Nile took its toll. It is often the case, that by the time the injured or orphaned wildlife is found and brought into care, it is beyond help. In the wild, they would be a happy scavenger or predators next meal, but when in the human world, they are more likely to be spotted and brought into care. Success is heartening and releases are exhilarating…losses weigh heavily. Such is the life as a wildlife custodian.
I lost two of my foster eagles this year. They helped me raise many eaglets, allowing the eaglets to relate to them and not me as a food source. This made releases so much easier. The eaglets were not imprinting on humans and that was important. The fosters were elderly, likely in their mid teens…they had come in as non-releasable adults and were in my care for years. I will miss them when the spring brings me more young baldies. And I miss their ‘watch dog’ calls…I always knew if someone or something was in the yard as they would sound a warning. Its way too quiet now…well except for the two young ravens who belt out ‘oh no’ ‘oh no’ ‘oh no’ when someone new comes and then go into a cacophony of calls.
And it would seem that Dewy, the cranky kit beaver I overwintered last year and released to the pond was taken in the late fall by the omnipresent timber wolves. He had successfully fixed up the old beaver house and put in a goodly feed bed, but it seems he was caught on land just at freeze up. There is a slight chance, that he was just scared and went into the house for the winter, but the lack of a steam vent on the house makes me think that is not the case. But now, I have a new beaver being overwintered…and Gnawedagen makes Dewy seem like a saint. Gnawedagen was found being chased down a road by ravens. He (or she) too was a late born kit, but had likely been with mom for a month or more…so has no fondness for humans…at all! I catch glimpses of him/her when I change bedding and water, but that’s about all.
And if life didn’t through me enough strange curves, there is Bouncer the piglet…Bouncer apparently bounced out of a stock truck on the Trans Canada Highway. He was found by a friend of mine who brought him to me. His snout was bloodied, he had bite marks all over him and his tail had been either cut off or chewed off. He was a little mess. But Bouncer found a new home at the 10 Acre Wood in Anola, where I believe he has a girlfriend. Thanks, Tara McKean for taking him in.
So that’s 2018 in a nutshell. Really, this is just a Cole’s Note version of the year, as it seems the older I get, the more one day blurs into the next. But my vision for 2019 is much clearer! Don’t sweat the small stuff!