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Good Thing You Had Another Basket To Put Your Eggs In

, , , , , , , | Healthy | November 27, 2021

We keep backyard chickens. One day, we find that our hen Emma has been savagely attacked — we believe by a raccoon — as she was brooding on her nest. Emma is a big chicken; she probably got the injury because she stood her ground and fought the raccoon rather than letting it have her eggs. And since two small Silkie hens have disappeared, presumed dead, we credit Emma with saving the lives of the other two hens that are still safe.

We take our war hero to a vet that we use a lot, not because we like them, but because they are close by, open twenty-four hours, and treat birds. Emma is indignant and unhappy and obviously in a lot of pain, but she is feisty and pretty energetic for a hen with a giant piece of flesh torn out of her backside.

Immediately, I start to see red flags. They warn me that Emma might have to be put down because, if she was bitten by a raccoon, she might have rabies. Chickens get rabies so rarely, I don’t believe it’s ever happened in the US; the CDC claims chickens can’t get it. Because they don’t have saliva, they can’t transmit it if they do get it. Then, they tell me that there is nothing they can do. They can’t stitch her up. They strongly recommend that we put her down because chickens don’t survive injuries like this. They tell me she is “dumpy” — meaning withdrawn and low energy, seen in dying birds but also in ones that are just in a lot of pain — and that she cannot recover from this.

I have seen many chickens die. Emma does not strike me as a dying chicken. My husband and I agree that we cannot leave Emma with this vet. They’re quoting me $1,400 for an overnight stay, which is bad enough, but they’re recommending euthanasia so strongly that they make me sign paperwork saying that I am refusing the recommended treatment against medical advice. We both feel that if the vet there feels so strongly in favor of euthanasia, Emma will not survive the night.

There’s another vet that takes birds forty-five minutes away from my house and they’re not open twenty-four-seven. I demand my bird back. She has had no treatment aside from her wound being washed. They give me antibiotics and painkillers to give her but they have not given her anything for pain or wound treatment themselves. And by the time they finally hand her over, it’s fifty minutes until the other vet closes.

I drive like a bat out of h*** to the other vet and show up minutes before closing. They check her in and take her back immediately for wound care and painkillers. After about half an hour, the vet comes to see me. He wants to do surgery on her in the morning. He says that chickens are one of the toughest birds out there and he’s seen chickens live through worse. And the cost of surgery and an overnight stay is going to be like $350.

Emma has a long and tedious recovery, penned in our house because other chickens will attack a bloody wound. We have to give her antibiotics and painkillers by hand for twenty days, and she has to go back three times for dressing changes and once for an additional surgery, but for a sum total of around $600, I end up with a healthy if cranky chicken whose feathers have grown back so you can’t even see her wound, who is still laying eggs despite the injury to her butt, and who is once again Top Bird in the pecking order around here.

I’m never taking a bird to the first vet again if I can help it.

Soothing The Limping Cat, The Barking Dog, And The Standoffish Horse

, , , , , , | Friendly | November 26, 2021

I’m the author of Soothing The Skittish Cat. The cat in that story passed away at eighteen years old, not nearly as skittish as she was when I met her. One day, our downstairs neighbor knocks on our door, and my wife answers.

Neighbor: “Hey, is your wife home?”

Wife: “Yeah, what’s up?”

Neighbor: “My cat’s limping and he won’t let me near him, so I think he’s hurt. He likes her. Do you think she’d come take a look?”

I go downstairs and the cat limps right up to me. I immediately notice what looks like a bite mark on his hind leg.

Me: “Ah, okay. You need to get him to the vet. It looks like something bit him and it’s infected.”

I scoop the cat up into my arms and deposit him into the carrier the neighbor has, the cat purring the entire time.

Neighbor: “Thank you. I knew you could get him to behave.”

Me: “You’re welcome but… why me? He is your cat. Sure, he likes me, but…”

Neighbor: “Oh, he only lets you pick him up. Sort of like how [Neighbor #2]’s dog only lets you walk up to her porch without barking his head off. I’ve lived here for ten years and he still barks at me. You moved in last year and he’ll walk right up to you.”

Wife: “And my mom’s dog will literally only listen to you. You literally trained her because she wouldn’t listen to Mom at first. And that horse we saw at the state fair that apparently doesn’t let people touch him but wouldn’t let you stop scratching him, then he put his head on your shoulder and went to sleep — even the owner was amazed.”

Neighbor: *To my wife* “I’m pretty sure your wife is a witch.”

Wife: “She has a lot of familiars. You should have seen [Skittish Cat] when she first moved in with me; she got right in [My Name]’s lap on day one.”

The cat was fine after a round of antibiotics but I had to coax him out of the carrier when the neighbor brought him home. Apparently, I’ve been designated the friendly neighborhood witch!

Soothing The Skittish Cat

If It’s Closed, Leave It Closed. Simple.

, , , , , , , | Working | November 25, 2021

Several years ago, we had a tree fall on our house during a pretty bad windstorm. This happened in roughly February, and being that this was Washington state, it was pretty rainy and miserable, so while crews came out to get the tree off the roof and everything, we ended up with patches — mainly tarps — over the holes because it was too wet and rainy still to fix the roof immediately.

When the incident first occurred, we didn’t have a dog, but between the time of the tarps being added to the roof and the weather clearing up enough to allow them to start repairs, we happened to get a rescue lab-retriever mix. Now here’s the thing with that lovable goofball: when we first got him, he was still young enough that he could have hopped the fence. What we didn’t know was that he wouldn’t — that dork had some interesting quirks, but that’s a story for another time. So, when nobody was home, we’d leave him in the yard, but he’d be on a lead — it was like a ninety-foot thing so he had a decent run of the yard, but again, we were trying to prevent him from potentially escaping.

It was getting to the point where the repairs are starting, and our landlord had reached out to his insurance company about getting repairs covered, so they had to send out an investigator. He managed to show up while no one was home, so he just wandered around the back of the house examining everything. We had gates on both sides of the house, and we didn’t know it at the time, but he left one of them open — the one on the far side of the house that we never used.

I got home from school and was the only one home. The rule was: get home, let the dog off his lead, play with him for a bit, and then go do homework. When I went to go back inside, he didn’t want to come in, so I left him in the yard because he didn’t mind it, and I went off to do my homework.

Sometime later, my mom got home and the landlord showed up and wanted to take a look at some reports he’d gotten from the investigator. He and my mom went into the backyard and my mom asked me where the dog was. Any guesses? He’d managed to find the open gate and slipped out. Unfortunately, I had no idea how long he’d been gone. We started looking for him but couldn’t find him anywhere. My brothers and I were kind of devastated.

My dad called the investigator.

Dad: “Why did you leave the gate open and not say anything about it?”

Investigator: “Well, the dog was tied up, so I didn’t think it mattered.”

Dad: *Pissed off beyond belief* “Okay, first of all, do you think we just keep him tied up all the time? Second, forget the dog for a moment. You had no way of knowing if there were small children here. What if one of them had gotten out of that open gate and then gotten hit by a car?”

We lived off a street that intersected with a main drag, so we’d get people speeding down the street all the time.

Investigator: “Oh, well, I guess I never thought of it like that.”

Dad: “Of course, you didn’t. You’d better hope we find the dog; otherwise, you will be buying a new dog for my kids.”

The investigator started sputtering about that not being fair.

Dad: “Maybe keep that in mind next time you’re wandering around properties.”

It took a couple of days, but we finally found the dog. We got really lucky and one of the families near the school had managed to grab him. We had started putting up Missing posters, and then a friend called having seen a Found poster. We’d put the Missing on one side of the pole and the Found posted was on the other side; you wouldn’t see it unless you turned around.

We got our dog back, and I don’t know what happened with that investigator, but knowing my dad, there was definitely something to the guy’s manager.

Fishy Practices All Around

, , , , | Right | November 25, 2021

At a specialty mom-and-pop aquarium shop, we had a repeat customer who kept killing the fish he bought for his tank. His tank was always overcrowded and never fully cycled. For those that don’t know what cycled means, it’s basically when the tank chemistry has gone enough time to grow enough nitrifying bacteria. This bacteria transforms ammonia to nitrite — both lethal in any quantity — and nitrite into nitrate — lethal only in high quantities and removed via routine partial water changes.

I was the store’s freshwater chemistry and illness specialist on top of an animal rights supporter. I always emphasized the healthiest fish and hardiest species, especially when dealing with new hobbyists or fish parents. It gives them the best chance to keep the fish alive and enjoy their new family members.

My staff and I had this conversation with this repeat customer multiple times.

Customer: “You sold me fish and they died! I want a refund!”

Me: “Sir, you need to wait for your tank to cycle, and you need fewer fish in your tank. Bad water quality voids our return policy.”

Customer: “No, you keep selling me sick fish to begin with!”

Me: “Sir, I always help you pick out healthy fish.”

Instead of banning this customer from buying fish until his tank got better — my personal recommendation — the owners had the attitude that if customers keep buying, they don’t care. They enabled this dude.

What was their solution? I was the only person who could help pick out this guy’s fish. It was still always, “They were sick at purchase,” and, “They’re just fish,” after telling this guy time and time again to wait for the water to get better and keep a lower number of fish.

Beware Of Rabid Customers

, , , , , , , | Learning | November 25, 2021

I have two German shepherds that I take to obedience training at the local kennel club. My state is coming out of the first lockdown, and the club has permission to resume classes if we maintain social distancing and are masked. The training hall is quite large so staying six feet apart is not a problem.

Before class one evening, the club secretary announces that, due to a change in state guidance, we no longer have to wear masks as long as: one, there are no more of ten of us in the hall, and two, we are all vaccinated.

Senior Trainer: *Chuckling* “This has to be the first time in club history you’re going to be asking if the humans have had their shots!”