Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blueberry's Bird Injury Update

Blueberry's wound is infected.  The vet cleaned it up and gave her some oral and topical antibiotics for the next 10 days.  The vet seemed somewhat amused and surprised that Blueberry caught a wild bird and it managed to get a peck in - she said that would have been interesting to witness.  (It's really too bad I don't have a video camera going outside for situations like this.)

I really love that vet and vet office.  They were great with Blueberry, as always.  She doesn't love being there, but she is pretty calm about everything she has to endure and she loves it when they shower her with treats.  

One of the things I was concerned about was the drive to and from the vet office.  It's about a 20-30 minute drive each way and it takes the a/c a while to cool down the vehicle and it is HOT out there.  To keep B comfortable, I brought along her cooling mat as well as a towel I soaked in water. Both worked really well!

I also discussed anti-anxiety medication for B for the upcoming 4th of July holiday fireworks.  We are going to try her out on Trazadone and see if that helps take the edge off.  Despite trying some non-med things in the past, B's anxiety has actually increased. So, we'll see if it works.  I will keep everyone posted.  

"Can we go yet?"

"I still think steak would be better to put on my wound than ointment."

"While the vet was examining my wound, a piece of scab fell off .  So... I ate it.  If you can't get steak, sometimes "beef jerky" is the next best thing."

"Hahahaha - beef jerky!"


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It's All Fun and Games, Til Someone Gets Pecked

I came home from my first day back at work in 2 and a half weeks. Blueberry seemed a little put off with my having left her for so long (she got used to having me home).  She went outside for longer than was usual for her.  When she came back in, I saw what I thought was a pretty big eye booger.  (In retrospect, I may need to update my eyeglass prescription.)

I used my hand to try and clean it off and my fingers came away smeared with blood.  Yikes!  I cleaned off the blood and wondered what had happened.  It was a small wound near her eye and I thought maybe she ran into a loose nail on the wall and I would go outside later to try and locate the offending nail.  (Even though B doesn't make a habit of running into walls, nor do I make a habit of letting nails hang out where she can catch herself on them, at the time, this made sense to me.)

As I walked through the yard, my investigation turned up not a nail, but a bird.  A dead bird.  Sharp beak pointed at the sky.  I made the connection.  It was a great tailed grackle - brown - which means it was a she.  She must have had enough fight in her to poke Blueberry right under her eye.  I am thankful it wasn't Blueberry's eyeball.

I didn't think much more of the wound - I figured it would heal on its own and since it had stopped bleeding, a trip to the vet didn't seem necessary.

A week later, the wound seems more swollen and doesn't look great.  So, off to the vet we will go.  I may be overreacting - but I don't really want to be responsible for Blueberry losing an eye and having to wear an eyepatch or glass eye for the rest of her life.  

I did google eye injuries caused by birds to dogs - but disturbingly, I could only find pictures of people that had had birds peck them in their eyes and also a couple of sites that contained disturbing stories of birds pecking dogs to death.  Most of the other things that popped up were dogs that injured birds.  

Image from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great-tailed_Grackle/id
This is the type of bird that B tangled with.  Check out that pointy beak!  

"Poor me.  I think you should place a steak on my eye to help with the swelling.  Then later, I can eat it."

"I'm not getting a steak, am I?"

"That birdy hurt me.  But I deaded him, so we are even."

Monday, June 27, 2016

Pistachio: Heat Warning Edition

For those of you that attended the BlogPaws event that took place in Arizona this year (what were they thinking?), you are probably aware of how hot it can get here.  We had several heat warning days over the past couple of weeks.  For humans and usually their dogs, there is always the luxury of air conditioned buildings to ride out the heat waves.  For desert tortoises, though, it is a different story - they live outside.  For wild tortoises, they spend most of their time in underground burrows they dig.  For captive tortoises, they have to rely on puny humans to do the best they can in creating a burrow for them that is habitable for summer and winter.  Keeping a desert tortoise indoors is not a viable option.  They need to be outside.  

Out of all the online articles (from vets as well as Arizona Game and Fish) - they all agree that a desert tortoise burrow's temperature should not exceed 90 degrees lest the tortoise suffer brain damage. This is not "haha- brain damage".  This is serious and can cause odd behavior in a tortoise.  I keep a gauge inside the burrow to monitor the temperature.  It is typically under 90 degrees - mostly around the 85 degree mark.

However, when our temps hit 118+, his burrow came dangerously close to going over 90 - at least in the middle portion of it. Pistachio has been working on his "basement" for more than a few weeks and it is entirely possible that the sublevel he created was markedly cooler.  As I wasn't 100% sure, I thought it best to take some action to lower the temperature of the rest of the burrow.  I hadn't seen Pistachio for a few days and while I know they can go into estivation (like hibernation, only it occurs in the summer) - I was still concerned enough to know I had to do something.

I was praying about it and thankfully, a solution presented itself.  I would place bottles of frozen water inside the enclosure and partially close off one side with styrofoam to allow the coolness of the bottled ice to lower the burrow temperature.  The styrofoam was tied down, but Pistachio would still be able to bump it out of the way if he wanted.  

Since I was out of work during this time for my medical recovery, I was able to determine that the bottled ice water and styrofoam were working very well.  The temperature dropped down to around 82 degrees.  I had to change the bottles out every 4-5 hours, but around the second time I changed them out - who should pop his head up from the basement but Pistachio himself!  

So, bottom line is - Operation Frozen Water has been successful so far.  I don't want to have to do this next summer, so when the fall hits, I will be planting some ornamental grasses and shrubs close to the burrow to keep the temperatures down.  The burrow faces north, but the sun beats on one corner of late in the afternoon which is what causes the inside temperature to rise.  

"Nomnomnom, grass..."

"Hello, human, please rub my head.  I know Blueberry is watching from the other side of that gate and it will drive her crazy.  Hehehehe."

I put a bottle to the left and right on the inside of the burrow so Pistachio is still able to come out if he chooses.  Sometimes his shell will bump one or both bottles out of the burrow.  This doesn't bother me as I can track whether or not he's been outside for the day or not.  

The string coming out of the burrow is attached to the temp gauge.  I had to add the string because Pistachio has a tendency to drag the gauge down into his basement with him and it is quite the chore to try and get it out.  I do the same thing with the bottles.

"Thank you for the ice bottles."

"Must eat fast before sun comes out again."

"Stop taking my picture so I can eat in peace."