Thursday, July 29, 2010

Galileo's journey

We rescued Galileo, an “arctic marble” fox in November of 2008. Galileo’s story was fuzzy at best. In fact, we received at least 5 different stories about where he came from before we finally met the woman to pick him up. All stories included being kept at some college (that kept changing), sometimes in a dorm, sometimes in a fraternity house. All ended with him being 3 months old, which we knew was impossible by November for a fox.
A volunteer/friend and, finally met her, at a veterinarian’s office, because they very nicely offered to let us use an indoor run that would prevent him from escaping while we transferred him from one crate to another. Seemed odd to us that he wasn’t at all handleable, if he had truly been raised as a pet in either a dorm or fraternity house? But, but nobody was going to risk a fox being on the loose.
When we arrived at the vet’s office the first thing that hit us was the smell! It was VILE! We took one look inside the crate and found a yellow, stinking, terrified, skinny fox with a very red upper muzzle sitting on urine and feces covered pine straw. It looked like he had been in this same medium sized cat crate, in his own filth for at least DAYS if not longer!
The woman who was turning him over to us very excitedly and nicely said that we were welcome to just trade crates with her and take him in her crate. Not being able to stand seeing any animal in that kind of filth for any longer than it would take to open the door the answer was an absolute NO (though it was said politely)! So, off we went to the back room with the indoor run. I walked into the 3 foot by 6 foot run with both crates, one clean and empty, one filthy and full of fox and filth. The plan was just to have him shift from one to the other, with me closed into this very small space, by just tipping one crate into the other crate.
This plan was working really well….UNTIL…the woman, who was out of the line of sight, spoke, then the poor fox freaked out, climbed the solid, brick wall and flew at my face. Not intending to hurt me, just trying to get away from that voice. She was very happily explaining that his nose was red because “he was such a little pill to net this morning”. A few alarm bells went off in my head when she talked about netting him, but the rest of my mind was occupied, dodging a flying fox.
So now I have two crates that are each almost 2 feet wide, about 2 and a half feet long, facing each other and taking up most of the floor space of the enclosure we are in; and I have almost no room to move and a fox, bouncing off the walls, quite literally. There was no way to get the filthy crate out without risking having a loose fox in the practice. Every time I’d start to get him calm enough to scoop him into the clean crate the woman would speak again and again he would climb the walls to escape! One of the vet techs caught my eye, and message and got the woman to leave the room after 30 minutes of this. The vet tech was then able to slide something under the door of the enclosure we were in and help guide him into the clean crate.
Off the lady went, very proud of having “helped” this fox. And off we went, with a filthy, smelling, skinny fox on our way home.
Once home, we put the fox in a quarantine room, by himself and realized just how skinny and how terrified of humans (though supposedly raised as a pet) he was.
Two days later, we took him to our vet, who sedated him. Three of us spent an hour giving him the biggest bath in history! We found that he weighed 6 pounds (half of what he should have weighed), he got all of his shots (which he’d never had before) and was neutered. At that point we found out he was nowhere as young as the 3 months we were told, he was a minimum of a year old AND the red on the top of his muzzle was because the woman had broken the bridge of his nose netting him to crate him; he later lost his upper canines from this injury. Even with the great bath, the poor guy was still very yellow and remained so for several months (his fur was so stained from living in urine and filth), but he no longer smelled of urine and feces. So, off we went home to try to earn his trust.
A month of going in with him, offering food, sitting and reading to him, sitting quietly with him, calling experts, trying every “trick” we could think of or were told about, we tried it, and he was still terrified and snarling at us. Already having two arctic marble foxes, which he could not be introduced to, because they are too bonded to each other, and whom we cannot handle we were getting desperate!
So, as I was sitting, crying and thinking, Mushu, our 5 pound Pomeranian, whom we call “out greeter”, jumped into my lap, waving, as she always does when she wants attention. Then it dawned on me. Our last resort in trying to make friends with the fox we now called Galileo. Mushu! She loves EVERYBODY, welcomes everybody, and it didn’t hurt that she only weighed a pound less than he did and has over 6 inch long fur. I figured if things went wrong, I could get her away from him before he could hurt her.
Got a few weird looks when I announced my plan, but, Mushu thought it was a great idea, so she followed Vinny and I back to the quarantine room and in she walked, us behind her, we closed the door (with us inside and held our breath). Galileo was doing what he always did, hiding behind a box. Mushu walked in, stood in the middle of the room, sat down and started waving toward him. At first I got a bit worried, I hadn’t seen Galileo move so quickly since the day he and I were in the run together. He flew from behind the box, hit the floor on his belly, ENTIRE body wiggling so much he was almost convulsing and his tail stood STRAIGHT up in the air (for those who don’t deal with foxes daily, this is a good thing). I have NEVER seen an animal SO happy in my life!!! The smile on his face brought tears to my eyes. Yes, foxes do indeed smile!
Vinny and I looked at each other in amazement, Mushu had done it again! And so she turned to the door and looked at us like “ok, let’s go”. Well, ok, let’s see how he is meeting the rest of the dogs? Off we went to the living room, fox and Mushu leading. WOW, seeing 4 other dogs made him even happier than he had been when he saw Mushu!
Now foxes are NOT pack animals as adults, so what was with this behavior? He shouldn’t be having FUN with DOGS! We later found, after working with our vet that Galileo’s early nutrition was so poor that his adrenal glands never kicked in, so mentally he will never grow past a kit. Which means he is quite happy to remain a pack animal and more than that, at the bottom of the pack. Which, in this case is good, since Mushu is the largest of our dogs, the others are all 3 pound Chihuahuas, all of whom love to show that they can actually dominate him. Not that they are mean to Galileo, do not get me wrong, they just take great pride in knowing that a now 12 pound fox, will submit to them if asked! Always runs up, flips on his back, smiles and shows them his belly!
Very shortly after that day, we were able to pet, then brush, then pick up Galileo whenever we wanted. Now he sleeps on my desk as I work, allowing me to kiss his nose at will, ok, sometimes demanding this. I can cut his nails easier than I cut any of the dogs’ nails, and love on him at will! He’s even amazed our USDA inspector at his lack of nervous behavior. A fox normally acts nervous, not Galileo!
He has since made friends with two skunks, a raccoon and a bunch of cats, who actually don’t like him, but we don’t tell him, we don’t want to hurt his feelings. He “borrows” my things as a game, in the hopes that I will chase and “catch” him so he can get yet another nose kiss. If I don’t happen to, he will pass the treasure to the raccoon who will then proceed to take it apart. Yes, we have lost 8 cell phones this way. ALL worth it to see the sparkle in this beautiful boy’s eyes!
He is now bright white, a perfect weight and as healthy as can be! He will always have some damage from poor early nutrition, such as loose tendons in his ankles. As I type this, he is sleeping on the third level of a 5 level cat tree, cats on all other levels and quite content.
While his life didn’t start easily, or happily, it has become a very happy, very calm, playful and fulfilling life. He is a welcome member of the CLAWS family!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fundraising Chaircoon Appointed!

Hi. Pooka here. Kindra has finally gone to bed so I have snuck out to use her computer. I have to make sure I don’t give in to temptation and pull the keys off the keyboard. It is soooo much fun, but I can never remember the order they go in to put them back. Anyhoo, I need some human help.

All the humans around here are so busy taking care of the animals they don’t have time to raise money. And let me tell you, we animals are expensive to care for. I have a certain lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to and need to be sure it is maintained (and eventually improved…I want my own room!). So I have appointed myself Chaircoon of the CLAWS Fundraising Committee. Since school is out, I’m not doing as many school programs and have some time on my hands, so the Kinkapoodle (he hates it when I call him that!) and I planned out a few fundraising events. Now we need some humans to help put them into action.

I need schmoozers. Schmoozers are special people with the gift to charm other people out of stuff. People who aren’t afraid to ask their fellow humans for things and money. I need people who can go around to restaurants and businesses and stores and ask them to donate something we can use for prizes and raffles for events. I can provide you with some information about us so you can take it with you to places you ask for stuff. I’d do it myself, but I can’t drive and regular people don’t understand me so we’ve got the whole communication gap thing happenin’. Not to mention the freak out factor if I happened to walk into a restaurant! So I need people to be my agents.

The other thing I really need is places to host our various events. Lori calls them venues. I really want a place where Kindra can have a dance. They want a ballroom. Why they want to dance in a room full of balls is beyond me. But she is my favorite human and I like her to be happy. The problem is that I have no allowance to pay for these venues. So we need generous people that will let us use their place for free or sponsors that will pay the rental fee for me. We also want to have some more car washes if you could locate some easy to find high traffic places that would let us wash cars.

CLAWS is blessed by the IRS so donations to us are tax deductible. From what I have been able to understand, humans don’t like this IRS tax thing much, but the tax deductible is a good thing. *shaking head* All that is very confusing and makes my head hurt, I need some blueberries.

Come be one of Pooka’s People and help me bring in lots of money for the animals of CLAWS. I am looking forward to hearing from you! Since I can’t always check email (Kindra doesn’t sleep enough), please email my new minion (she has been masterless since the passing of our beloved Alf, so I took pity on her and gave her someone to serve) at As a matter of fact, she is going to post this for me tomorrow because this whole Facebook thing is beyond the scope of my attention span. I’m amazed I managed to stay focused long enough to finish this blog…and the keys are all still on the keyboard!

We are looking forward to hearing from you very soon and having your help!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Isn't it time to re-educate ourselves?

This was my personal status a week or two ago:
“Once we lived with nature, cooperated with her and understood her, then we "evolved". Now, we have "evolved" so much and taken so much of nature away, that, once again, we have forced nature to live with us. It's time to "evolve" again and learn to understand nature.....are YOU up to the challenge?”

I thought I’d take this time to explain this in more detail.

With the change in phone calls about native wildlife that we have been receiving for the last few years, something has been striking me about our ever changing world. We, humans, as a species have gotten so far away from Nature that we truly do not understand what it does or how it behaves anymore. We think we are somehow responsible for making Nature work? We have forgotten that Nature takes care of Nature in wonderful and much more positive ways. We used to understand this!

Once, our ancestors lived off the land, in cooperation with Nature. They knew how foxes, deer, bear, skunks, and all other species in their area lived, what their habits were; when they moved, how to live in harmony with them and only take from them what was needed. They knew the best time to grow what plants for food and beauty.

We didn’t have refrigeration, so we only killed what we could store and keep safely. The rest was used for clothing, blankets, and other useful items. Our gardens contained enough food to feed our family, our extended family and to use for barter with others. Excess was not something that most humans knew or wanted. In fact, for the most part, it was frowned upon.

As humans have “evolved” and come up with great new inventions, such as refrigeration, air conditioning, cars, etc. we have changed the nature of nature (last part of statement borrowed from Leland, thanks Leland!). Not having to use our feet or horses to get around anymore has made us much more mobile much more quickly. New ways to build, with newer technology has lead to massive, constant building, taking huge, natural areas and making them into big cities. Now we “create” natural areas inside of the artificial environment that we have created. Most of these natural areas contain plants and other things that aren’t even natural to the areas they are put in.

In an effort to survive, Nature is changing to live in this new “environment” that we are creating for it. We never used to get calls about foxes in yards during the day unless something was wrong. We’d never before gotten a bobcat in on rehabilitation. These animals are usually so elusive, that even if they are in trouble, humans never come upon them. In fact, the number of fawn coming into rehabilitation when they truly weren’t in need is increasing year by year. Why is all of this going on? Are more animals really in trouble?

No. Humans have moved into so much of these animals’ natural environment that the animals are “evolving” and adjusting to live WITH us instead of fighting against us. Fewer are showing true fear (which is important for their survival) toward humans. We’ve even witnessed does parking their fawn on people’s back decks, presuming they are safe and fox kits looking into sliding glass doors.

We are continually called to "green" neighborhoods that put so many chemicals on their lawns that they are poisoning native species, like baby bunnies, which in turn poison the hawks who eat them. We have gone into these same neighborhoods and listened as people very proudly explained how the sharp wires that they put around their ponds (which are not visible by humans, so as not to detract from the look of the pond) to keep geese ("messy creatures, aren't they?") out. All the while they are bragging about these wires keeping out the geese, they are explaining how this same sharp wire cut off the foot of a great blue heron. At that point, the same people bragging about this "wonderful wire", makes the statement "we have to take care of our wildlife", meaning the heron, not the geese. Nobody seems upset when the bunnies and geese are harmed (though they do want the bodies removed quickly), but having hawks and herons hurt is something they don't like and don't seem to understand that making a very green area unnaturally green is creating this problem!

Whose right is it to determine which wildlife is desired, acceptable and which are not?

We have given wildlife no choice but to live with us, yet most of us do not understand them nor do we want to live with them. This leaves two choices for wildlife; we kill them all, because we fear them, or we educate ourselves about these beautiful creatures and evolve yet again so that we may all live in harmony once again.