Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

July 22, 2013

I Visited Smudge Today

I visited Smudge today at the shelter. It was a rise of emotions within me as I neared Toronto Animal Services on The East Mall. I wondered how he would look, how he would act, if he'd remember me, etc.

I arrived at the shelter and spoke with the woman I met when I dropped him off there about 6 weeks ago. We had a brief chat, she told me all about him once again, how lovable he is, he wants pats, scratches and hugs before his morning meal. They all adore him and know it's only a matter of time before he gets adopted.

He does have a bit of a tummy issue right now which is giving him the runs. They are waiting for results from fecal and blood samples figuring their initial tests during his quarantine may have not picked it up. But other than that, he is doing great. You wouldn't know he was a cat with the runs by how he acted in his cage which is quite roomy for a boy of his lion-like size. He's all clean now, no mats on his fur, the scars on his nose have healed and the white fur is just that... white and not muddy like the day I took him in. And he is quite content on where he is staying right now. He has lots of attention from the people who look after the animals at TAS and he has a group of feline friends he shares the cat adoption room with (at least a dozen).

I talked to Smudge a little bit, gave him some rubs under the chin through the cage. He played with my fingers a bit but was more interested in another cat out of it's cage at the moment. Every time the cat passed Smudge, out came Smudge's paws to grab this other cat's tail. It seemed to be a bit of a game they were having.

Another family was in the adoption room while I visited Smudge. A mother and her two young daughters. I guess they were interested in the one walking around. The young girls took quick notice to my bonding with Smudge and then the questions poured out.

Do you know this cat?

What's his name?

Why did you bring him here?

That was question hurt a bit but I know what I did (that Angie and I agreed upon) was the best thing for him. But it's not an easy thing to explain to two young girls under the age of 8.

So, I said I knew the cat. I told them his name is Smudge. I said he's a beautiful lovable boy and once had a family. But that family moved away and could not take him. So they left Smudge at his old house but the new family did not want him. Smudge found help through us and some other people on the street but none of us could take him in as we all have lots of pets already. It was best to bring Smudge to the shelter, keeping him safe indoors, away from all the rain we have had, and cool instead of being outside on the really hot days like we had last week. I tried to explain about the situation with the birds but stopped short to not upset the young girls.

They looked at me, looked at Smudge, rubbed his paw through the bars and said "good luck Smudge!" And then they went back to the cat they were first checking out.

I took a couple pics of Smudge and said "see ya later". He gave little notice to me as he was waiting for the next pass of this other cat.

Before leaving I talked to the woman at the counter again. I told her about my blog and how I feel obligated to help this cat out. She understood and assured me it will happen, that he will get adopted, he's too nice of a cat to not get picked up in the coming weeks. But for now, he is happy and he is safe and that's what counts most. We both agreed that it will take one serious minded person/family to meet him and he will be adopted.

Smudge currently resides at 146 The East Mall in Etobicoke and here is a link to their website. Last I saw, Smudge's adoption page was down while they worked with a vet to cure what is ailing him.

Here are my other two blogs about him from the last little while if you are new to the story about this cat.

First blog titled "The Queen and the Beggar".

Second blog titled "Whatever Happened to Smudge?"

I thank everyone who has been taking the time out to read and share these blogs. It will be great when because of us all that Smudge finally gets his forever home.

July 19, 2013

"Get Your Hands Off My Bird You Freak!" or Rob Loses His S**t On Dundas

Facebook friends and a few others know this one but I gotta share it here...

Yesterday I took our Budgie Misfit to the vet. You all know Misfit, don't you? Remember her story from last October with the broken egg kinda inside her? See the story here if you missed it.

Here's our rescue girl, one of my favorite photos I've taken of her.

So, we get to the vet office in "the junction" area of west Toronto. Parking is only street parking along Dundas and of course you have to pay. I park the truck right outside the vet office and walk to the pay meter to get my pay pass which is at the most, about 25 feet from the truck. Misfit is waiting for me in the truck on the passenger seat (in her cage).

Misfit rides shotgun with daddy to the vet.

I start dropping my coins in the machine and I hear a door open, the corner of my eye catches a figure at our GMC. I look and there's some woman now with the door open looking inside! It's kind of a blur after that since I went into a sort of red rage which happens very rarely. I know I was loud, I know there was a lot of profanity and I was like a charging bull.

I remember her saying something about wanting a better look at the bird. And she reached into the truck to grab the cage.

It all ended rather quickly, my heart pounding, the woman scurrying off with her tail between her legs, and probably needing a change of undergarments, and Misfit making these unpleasant growly gurgling noises she's started ever since visiting the vet was becoming a regular thing. She makes them whenever something is unsettling to her now. But she calmed down pretty quick and in we went to the vet office.

I still shake my head at this. I didn't think there was a need to lock the truck door when I was that close to it and my time away wouldn't have been more than a minute or two depending on how slow the meter would be. And surely she must have seen me get out of the truck in that time.

But the great news is that after 10 months of this and that with Misfit, the vet, some treatments being shots to curve her egg laying desires, diet changes, sleep schedules, etc; we are now done and hopefully for a very long time. Angie and I are very strict with Misfit and Moonie now but don't worry, they like it. Birds are very social creatures and these two sure love the fuss over them.

In other Budgie news, a friend of ours, Jennifer, had this sad sight at her office in the Bramalea area (Dixie and Queen). It's a lovely male Budgie who is obviously lost and was getting their attention from the third floor window. You can easily see he's familiar with people and apparently really wanted inside. Unfortunately the windows do not open and not much could be done for him. This happened yesterday too.

Today he was no where to be seen but hopefully found his way to a bird feeder in the area and maybe some kind folk find him and give him a new loving home. Both Misfit and Moonie are proof that this can happen to this guy as well.

July 16, 2013

What the Hell Happened?

Okay, first off, I must warn anyone reading this that the images below are very disturbing. Trust me! Take my word for it! If you cannot handle gruesome dead wildlife images, please back out of this blog upon reading the last paragraph and take my advice to slowly scroll down the page, ensuring you do not see the last images I posted. You have been warned.

So, last Thursday I get home from work and after a bit of puttering I am outside checking the yard, the feeders and changing the bird baths. It's pretty quiet, they must have emptied the feeders before noon and the baths are all muddy and barely any water left. The extreme heat has me changing the water many times a day when possible.

I'm walking towards the bird pole out in the middle of the garden. The pole puts 4 feeders about 12 to 14 ft above ground, with a metal umbrella 3/4's of the way up to keep the Squirrels from getting the bounty of peanuts hanging in the one feeder.

Feeders at the pole system high above the gardens. I use a claw rake to bring them down for filling.

I notice a bird on one of the tube feeders. But after a couple seconds of focus on it as I'm walking closer, I notice something is not right. For one, the bird is not moving. Another thing, the bird is not perched. At my view point I can see the body and it's seemingly hovering along side the feeder. And as I move in closer I see something is really wrong... the bird obviously dead, it's hanging, and the head is a couple inches away from the body, just hanging by a thread of muscle. It had been there for sometime today, the blood was dried and as I brought the feeder down, the head was dried and stuck to the top of the feeder. While House Sparrows are not high on my list of faves, they are enjoyable in the dog days of summer or any other time when no other birds are around. They add a soundtrack to the backyard and bring it to life. So I couldn't help but feel bad looking at this bird in such a horrible state, wondering what the hell happened.

I immediately thought Hawk or Kestrel, perhaps snagging the bird on the pole system as I noticed Sparrow feathers stuck to the black bar above the feeder, and maybe the bird of prey dropped it's meal. But there was little damage to the body, like talon tears or grab marks.

I buried the bird, washed the feeder, filled it again and up it went.

I watched the birds for a while after this, still puzzled at what happened while I was at work. I observed one particular Common Grackle chasing every Sparrow it saw. It was knocking them off the feeders, and occasionally flew to the ground and chased and pecked at them in the garden.

Common Grackle at one of the bird baths. They sure remind me of a T-Rex with their stare and their strut.

Grackles are a part of the Jay family and they can be a bit carnivorous. I've seen it before with the Jays, the Grackles and even the Starlings. If they don't eat the smaller birds, they sure don't have a problem killing them. Best example was watching a small mouse come running out from under my shed one afternoon at spilled bird seed. Two Jays took notice to it, shrieked and beat the hell out of the mouse. They pecked it and threw it around, pecking some more and so on for a couple minutes until the mouse lay still on the ground. Then suddenly this Starling flew in, grabbed the little mouse and flew off to the cedars with it and ate it!

It's the only thing that makes any sense of this all to me especially after seeing this one Grackle being quite aggressive to all the Sparrows that flew in.

Back in the early days of backyard bird feeding, we used to make a joke when the Grackles flew in and started picking on the House Sparrows, saying stuff like "snip snip" or "off with their heads". We at this time had only heard tales of such brutal behavior. Of course neither Angie or myself wanted to see it, and joking about it was better than sitting there saying "Oh my gawd, here come the murderers! Are we gonna see a slaughter?!?!" When you are new to something and you hear wild tales, your head can fill with crazy thoughts and visuals.

I'm still shocked by this but it's not going to deter me from feeding everyone. I don't hate the Grackles now because of this. The wild world can be brutal at times and us as humans, living where we do, must be thankful that our society is not like this, survival of the fittest (biggest and hungriest).

Okay, if you are still hanging on, here are a few photos to really put an image to what I found...

First visual of the bird, but between work exhaustion and the heat, it took me a few seconds to realize something was not right.

Um, ya, brain is really wondering what the heck at this point.

No joy was to be had taking these pics but how could I explain this to anyone?

It reminds me of some horror movie, like here is a warning sign that things are going to get worse if you continue. Yes I am quite imaginative.

Well, if you sat through all this, haven't screamed in horror, shed a tear, threw up all over your key board; I thank you for taking the time out for a not so great story I shared. Here is my thank you gift to you...

A dirty look from our princess Meadow. Haha! Its okay, she gives everyone this look except her daddy and mommy.

Okay, how about this? Meet Tiguaq the Snowy Owl. He's the newest addition to the team of educational birds at CPF. I had the pleasure of finally meeting him last Wednesday. What a beauty! I was helping our friend Tracy do some upgrades at the wing of the barn.

July 11, 2013

Blog about a Frog

Yesterday afternoon I got home from work and took notice to a tiny little Frog sitting on our front steps. And when I say "tiny", I do mean tiny, like really tiny.

It was near +39c with the humidex, and I can only imagine how hot the concrete felt beneath the little creature. I wondered where he came from as well. We don't have any ponds that close to our house. And with his size, his journey must have been a long one already.

I scooped him up and brought him inside, putting him in a small plastic container I have for our Fire Belly Frogs when I clean their tank. I put about half an inch of water in it along with a water dish I use for the crickets' in their container, which this guy could use as an island if need be.

He swam and fussed for a little bit, probably terrified of his new surroundings. I had to go out for a few hours and in that time he settled down.

This morning I tried to feed him the smallest cricket I had, which was probably half his size. He just looked at it. I tried some thawed out blood worms that I feed our newt, dangling them in front of his face. He used his little hands to push them away.

I had no intentions of keeping him and knew relocating him was best; our yard is no place for him. So at 5:30am I pulled into a park nearby with a few big ponds and swampy areas, and set him free in the grass near one of the ponds. I wished him the best of luck in his journey and drove away.

the end

Here is a pic of him, and that's my thumb nail behind him holding up a quarter to give you some perspective on his size (or lack of). I am really curious what kind of Frog he is. If any one reading this knows... please let me know.

July 4, 2013

Whatever Happened to Smudge?

A couple of months ago I was really on the push to find this cat "Smudge" that I used to call Beggar a home. Some of you may remember him, my blog, and my regular postings about him through Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you saw him on the Toronto Humane Society's "lost and found" page where I posted his mug as well? I was also pleading for some kind of help, any help, from a few cat rescues in the GTA as well.

A number of people, friends and strangers alike, put the word out about him needing a loving home, getting him off the streets. He certainly wasn't starving thanks to us and some other neighbours but just feeding him wasn't enough. There be lots of danger to a cat living on the streets. And a cat on the streets is danger to many other living creatures. We all know this but had a reminder one morning when Smudge here came trotting through the backyard with a European Starling in his mouth. Sure it's only a Starling, a pest bird really, but most likely not the only bird he's killed like so many other cats do that roam free outdoors. We can't blame them, it's instinct, but we can help prevent more deaths by being responsible pet owners for both the cat's safety and other wildlife.

Smudge is a great cat. A young adult I'm guessing and so full of love. He just doesn't fit in our household having 2 Budgies who are family as well, and both Ang and I agreed it would not be fair to keep the birds locked up in another room and bring in another cat. Sorry, just the way it goes. Birds are very social creatures and like I said, ours are family.

I was not having any luck with these rescue places I made contact with, err, attempted to contact. And let me tell you, it was really frustrating, confusing and at times just plain upsetting. I get it these no kill rescue places are normally full, especially during late Spring and high season for kittens. But being completely ignored on Facebook, telephone, emails by some of these places really bothered me. Hell, a simple "sorry we are full and cannot take him in" would have been nice, any sort of reply, or maybe some advice on who to try next would have been appreciated. But being completely ignored sucked! And in future perhaps the spare change in my pocket will not go into the donation boxes for some of these places because of this. Not meant as a threat, just I'm a little bitter about it, and there are so many animal places that could use it, not just these couple that I won't name on here.

What was confusing is that some of the places tell you to contact the Toronto Humane Society about situations like this, as that is where they get their cats from. So I call the Toronto Humane Society. And what do I get? More voice recordings, no live speakers, and in the end THS doesn't take animals in like this anymore, they pass you on to Toronto Animal Services. Seems they are all connected and the cats come from one place now... TAC. I've always heard that they will euthanize animals like no tomorrow, it's always been like that, or so the rumors go ever since I was a little kid. It was even in many of the cartoons I watched. Ya go to the pound and they gas you after a week!

Well, a couple weeks back, we made the decision that unfortunately, for the sake of Smudge and for the sake of the wildlife around us, he needed to get off the streets. I called to him one rainy morning and he came to me in an instant, all happy lovey and trusting of me, his friend. He wasn't impressed as I shoved him in Meadow's cat carrier and we went for a drive across Dundas Street West. He looked at me through the holes in the carrier and cried a lot. I talked to him the whole way, promised him everything would be okay, and I put my fingers through the bars so he could feel me with him. He licked and rubbed his nose on my fingers. I had hoped and prayed in the final blocks to TAC that my phone was going to ring, and it would be one of these rescue shelters finally returning my call or emails; as some demand to be contacted by email or they won't reply. But it didn't happen that morning, and to this day, weeks later, it still hasn't happened.

We get to Toronto Animal Control in Etobicoke, on The East Mall. I go inside to talk to them, leaving Smudge in the truck. We had a brief conversation and then they asked me to bring him in. Nobody is really certain his story so far besides living on our street, being fed by some of the neighbours. I figure he's been abandoned, his family moved and left him behind. He's a very social cat, not a wild feral like I see in other street cats. Once inside, the lady pulled him out of Meadow's carrier and had him on the counter giving him a quick examination, checked for a microchip and then totally violated him as she checked for neutering. And all through this, Smudge just went with the flow. I could see the confusion on him, but he didn't put up any fight. I thought the lady to be brave to just grab a strange cat as how she did, but bravo to her. And more so, bravo to Smudge for behaving himself.

He was taken to the back and placed under quarantine for the next week. I was told to call back anytime after that if I wanted an update. I don't know how many times I told her he is a sweet cat and deserves a home, not a life on the streets, and not to be put to sleep. She never talked about euthanizing but I couldn't help shake that thought.

I gave Smudge one last rub on the chin before I left. It tore me right up inside looking into his face. And then I walked out the door. It was a long drive home.

I reminisced about the last couple months with him in our lives. The affection he poured out to us, and how submissive he was to Meadow even when she hissed, snarled and swatted at him.

Life got pretty busy with the Falcon watch I've blogged about recently but after that first week with Smudge gone, it was in my head to check up on him. I didn't though. I was busy. But I was also afraid. I feared I'd get the story of him being put down.

Finally today, July 4th, I made the call at work. I had to! I needed to know. I ate my lunch, then stepped out to the truck to make the call in private. I dialed the number, it rang a couple times, then a woman answered the phone, said "Toronto Animal Services, please hold". I was on hold for probably 2 minutes but it felt like forever. I kept thinking the news was going to be bad. She finally came back to the phone and I said "I'd like to inquire about a cat that was turned in a few weeks ago". She asked for the ID, I gave it to her, and a second later her voice raised in a happy tone, she went on about this cat, what a character he is, and actually the favorite at the shelter these days. This woman in particular looks forward to coming in the mornings and goes right for him, they have a great session of affection before she starts her day. Actually a few of the workers have gotten quite attached to Smudge. At this point, he didn't have a name, he was going up on their adoption website today and she asked me for a suggestion. Of course "Beggar" came to mind first, since that is what I first called him; but I know that's not right for him and I said "Smudge". She loved the name, talked about the black spot on his nose, and said it was perfect; and that a home was certainly in his future.

Tonight I looked him up through Google and found him on their adoption page. And there is his name now with the profile and not just an ID number.

I really hope the best for Smudge, and that a good loving person will take him home soon. He certainly deserves it and will put a smile on someone's face every single day.

I didn't share what has been going on with him with my family and friends just because I wanted to have more information to give than just "oh, Smudge went to a pound... the end". And also I felt horrible for doing it even though it was the best for him.

Here he is sleeping the sunny days away in my ornamental grass out back.

I'm going to start pushing his need for a home again. I swear if one of my friends would take him in, we'd pay the adoption fees... in return we'd just like to hear about him and have a visit once in a while. If any of you can help him out, contact me, or the adoption centre in the above link. Or at the very least, send some well wishes his way. He is better off now; not on the streets, is in air conditioning instead of this humidity, and is getting a lot more attention/affection from people daily. I always worried the longer he was out there homeless, the wilder he would become. But, he still needs a family and a home.

July 3, 2013

What's Wrong Pierre?

Between work and nearly a solid month down at Etobicoke Sunlife with the Falcon watch; I feel like I've lost touch with my backyard friends.  All of a sudden none of the Squirrel gang have names.  Junior's visits are so few and far between now which boggles my mind (he's a very personable gray Squirrel).  And then there's Pierre.  It wasn't that long ago we were all happy to see him coming around with Maggie, showing her how things are done around here to get the best grub and not have to fight the other Pigeons for it either.  But something is up with him, and Maggie too.  They aren't together anymore for one thing.  And both are very skittish now.  Pierre is even snubbing the peanuts.  He took in a bunch the other afternoon and within 20 minutes or so, he was hacking them back up all over the grass.  Is he sick?  He flies well and quick like the rest of the flock, but he's not the guy I once knew.  And Maggie is back to her very shy self, unsure of me and comes so close but backs off with the slightest movement.

It's so hard in this sense with the wildlife, you just never know what exactly is wrong, when something is (or if it is).  They can't tell us.  Or we just can't understand.

The bond with a few of the critters out back makes the yard all the more special; but it also hurts a lot more when things suddenly change, be it they get sick, they die or whatever is the reasoning to what is happening right now.

I hope to have a better tale of them all in the coming months as we spend a lot more time out back.

Pierre and I on Canada Day weekend.  He wasn't acting himself even though this shot doesn't depict that.  And his visit was brief too. Photo by our friend Patty.

And in other news, a quick bit about what we experienced early this morning before work.  Seems I had the idea to give the feeders a top up around 5:15am.  I turn on the back light, step outside with a bag of seed, and my eyes fix on something large and white moving along the fence.  I'm thinking "Cool, it's an Opossum!" but then I get more focus in the dim light, separating the darkness from the black fur, and realize it was a large, but beautiful, Skunk!  I quickly turned back inside, told Angie and got my camera.  How I thought I could get a photo at this time of the morning but I tried anyways using the picnic table as a tripod for starts, cranking up the ISO, and turning on the flash.  The Skunk acknowledged me, and a couple times I thought he was going to head in my direction, but he didn't.  He checked out every nook of the yard from the back deck to the bird garden, stopping for a drink at the bird bath, which is where I got this shot.

We haven't seen a Skunk out back in many years.  This was quite exciting for us, observing him from a safe, respectable distance.  I hope we see him again over the summer, from a similar distance, and perhaps just a wee bit more light for my camera.  Hey, I'm allowed to want a better photo of our backyard visitor!

Thanks for stopping in.  Soon will be my next entry about the Sunlife Falcons.