Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

April 29, 2016

Visions of Vermin

What a week at the Mueller Sanctuary!

For starts, some of you might remember a nutty blog I did back in February about a Squirrel that seems to have taken some lessons from Pierre. Well he made a grand appearance again this week. I'm quite sure I've seen him in between February and this week but he'd not been this, um, social.

Monday and Tuesday of this week he was like this. The last couple days, just acting like the rest of them out there. Funny thing he is. I tell people that we don't pick them, they pick us. A short video of him here.

One photo I managed to capture of him that I really like is this...

I recently came across some words that I thought would fit perfectly with the shot. Words I and so many others I know agree upon.

So while 98% enjoy this moment, there are the haters as usual. The joys of social media give people much to see and much to comment on. "Vermin" is what they called him, a Squirrel we named "Hoover". Nasty smelly creatures full of mites. I asked why are they nasty? "Because they chew everything, they shit on everything, etc" Well they do live outdoors, the world is their toilet, I bet their home isn't full of excrement. Have you ever smelled one? How do you know they smell so bad? "Because they don't shower".

Okay, so this was getting ridiculous pretty fast. I knew it would be from the get go. I turned this whole thing around on the individual, going from a Squirrel in my hand to a nasty smelly thing he was holding... his phone. I pointed it out to him. He said "what do you mean?" Without getting into too much of the dirty details I made mention of the toy he holds so many hours a day, and bet he held it while sitting on the toilet doing #2. Day after day. Somewhere, somehow, I am sure his hands switch and his wiping hand met the phone on more than one occasion. Knowing his fingers ran through his dirty butt crack and then met his phone was gross. Damn, his phone was nastier and smellier than Hoover!  He held it to his face daily.  He probably had fecal matter on his cheek as we spoke.  Of course this is much more effective in the moment, using some "gutter talk" and not my polite reiteration on my blog. One thing about me, I can be pretty gross, sometimes for fun, other times just to shut someone up and even have them walk away.

End result result, no comparison in his mind and I was f**ked. This was in no way a mean moment, just a difference of opinions between a couple guys. The jokes died off quick about me having Squirrel germs and him having a poo phone. It was time to leave the sandbox and get back to being mature adults.

It always stuns me how against wildlife some people really are.

Next up for the vermin is our Virginia Opossum.

I've been seeing this "guy" many nights lately. I've shared bits on him recently, and how I eat an apple every night on my way home from work, and I throw the core out back. Some nights I do set it in a spot where I can watch for a while and see who comes for it. It's always a treat for me to see the Opossum as much as it is a treat for the Opossum to find the core. A short video of him here when he found the core about a week ago. Another grainy, even shorter video of him, washing down near the shed.

He hides under the back deck to eat the core, or sometimes takes it to this half log I dragged home years ago.

I don't bug him every time I see him or try to take his photo. Just once in a while I like to get something to share, and try to promote the good these animals can do around our neighbourhoods. They are very misunderstood creatures. So many people don't know what they are. They fear them because of their appearance. Long rat like tail. "Ewwwwwwwww! Gross!" Razor like teeth. "OMG! It's going to bite me. It probably has rabies!"

Thankfully there are so many who are PRO-POSSUM and help spread the word on the benefit to having them running around after dark.

People see my Possum pics and they want to talk. Some of it is positive and some of it not so much. The negative rants have reduced quite a bit the last year or so. Hopefully I've changed some opinions on these animals.

A number of Raccoon sightings, one or two every night, running about, looking for food, playing in the baths.  I don't need to go on about these guys as I did a blog about a daytime sighting one not too long ago and touched upon these things.  As long as they don't get up on our roof, all is good.  They are fun to watch.  Some tolerate my presence out back and give me a show, others not so much.  I don't take it personally when they scurry away.

I change the bath and basin every night now. They are quite grateful of this.

My nightly appearances don't bother all of them. I tread lightly and go about my business. This one watches with curiosity especially when I top up a bird feeder.

Works for me!

As some can figure... it is my goal to help others understand, appreciate and respect the wild world around us.

What's your take on these visitors?

April 23, 2016

Little Moments

In the last couple years I've taken on a new look at things in my daily life, or rather do my absolute best to anyway...  I embrace the good little moments each day.  Be it making every light on my way to work, a nice cup of coffee from Tim Horton's (because there is no consistency on getting a great coffee everyday despite ordering the same day in, day out).  Acknowledging these little things we most often probably don't in our busy routines sure can help when something stupid and negative happens.  Even the bigger worries can be forgotten for a moment because of the better smaller ones.

I could list a lot of things but since this is "Rob and the Animals" I need to keep it about animal topics.

For starts, I was pleasantly surprised to recently be spotlighted during National Volunteer Week with Toronto Wildlife.  A random pick and I was one of a few to be highlighted during this week of appreciation to the hundreds of volunteers with TWC.  Family and friends took this in with happiness as they all know I throw myself in anything and everything I can do for TWC and other organizations, or just what I do on my own for animals both domestic and wild.  Here is a link to this moment.

Another moment was finally seeing the information signs at Mountsberg Raptor Centre.  About a year ago, or what seems to be that long, I was asked about possibly contributing some of my wild Owl photos for this "project".  The signs are outside enclosures of the actual species (obviously) and along with a few photos, there is a lot of information about that species.  I knew this was going to become one day, just wasn't sure when, and as time passed it was more or less forgotten about.

So when Angie and I did a raptor encounter the other Saturday afternoon, it was great to discover the new signs and see a couple of my photos helping show the birds.

The left photo of the Saw-whet is not mine...

Of course, the raptor encounter is also one of those moments.  Big in some ways, being around these wonderful ambassadors of their species, but in the BIG picture of our lives, a little moment, an hour out of our day.  We always have a great time with the birds and some of the people at the centre we now call friends.

Any time Angie is smiling is a great moment.  Her smile lights up a room.

I may not be the big toothy smile, more like a s**t eating grin, but you can see the happiness in my eyes.  Spending a moment with Chomper, an Owl we've been familiar since first visiting Mountsberg about 10 years ago.  It was a true pleasure to have a little one on one with him, first time ever.

Quality time with Pierre.

Or a little Whisky Wednesday moment after work, a little 40 Creek with a little cat.

If I can offer some advice, this is it for today... embrace those little moments.

April 14, 2016

Unique Hawk Moment

The other morning, I am about to head out and run an errand.  Like usual, I'm having a look out the back window as I grab my phone, keys, etc.  I spot a good sized Hawk in the yard next door and quickly realize he is on something, a bird of some sort.

At first I am thinking "shit, not a Red-winged!"

Don't ask about the tote lid on their back lawn.  That's a story for another day.

I figure the bird, which I soon realized is a European Starling, is dead.  One would think so as the Hawk is tearing away at it like in the shot below.

But it's not.

The Hawk is watching a couple Squirrels watching it.  At this point I am still thinking the bird is dead.

I miss the moment when one of the Squirrels charges at the Hawk.  It takes flight, the Starling in it's talons, and that is when the Starling begins to scream.  Damn!  A number of minutes have passed already and as you can see in one of the photos, it was getting torn apart.

Now the encounter moves over to our backyard.

The lighting keeps changing from sunny breaks to clouding over.  I can't keep up with my manual settings while I watch this from afar.

The Squirrels are still watching the Hawk, making such awful angry noises, scurrying up and down the trees.

Then I hear another awful noise.  That poor Starling is still alive!  How long has this been going on now?  I can't really say but no matter what you think about the non-native Starling species, this was far too long.  The bird thrashed about while being pinned under the Hawk.

I kept thinking...  "please, just kill it, put it out of it's misery!"  I was worried the Squirrels were going to go after the Hawk again and maybe the next time around, the Hawk might fly away and abandon it's prey.  Then what?

Don't mind my crop jobs, taking out some of the clutter about the back as Spring cleaning is very much needed.  Lighting still continuously changing too.

But I am sure that now the Starling is dead.  Finally out of it's misery.

I went from the side of the house, going out the front door, to creeping up the far side of the yard and using our Holly bushes as cover.  I'm still quite a distance from the Hawk and wasn't going to move in any closer.  There was much going on in the yard still with screaming Sparrows and angry Squirrels.  I used this as my advantage to get myself positioned for the pictures.  I still had the pressing issue of getting out and running that errand.

A few more shots.

That second last one, hoo boy, the skull is now picked clean.

There goes the beak.

Squirrels are coming.

"You still here?"  or "Do I have food on my face?"

It was at this point the Squirrels, well a brave one anyway, had enough of this Hawk in the territory and charged at it.  I missed the shot once again.  The Hawk took flight with the carcass and disappeared in the cedars just behind where it was eating.  I lost sight of it from where I was, and then got up and left.  I had that errand to run.

90 minutes later I am home again, and I have a peek outside.  It's still pretty quiet for birds.  A couple Red-wings making noise, one flies in, grabs a peanut from the feeder and is gone again.

Suddenly the cedars come to life, more than a dozen Blackbirds with a handful of Sparrows and Finches come flying out, seemingly fleeing for their lives.  A few Squirrels are within, raising hell on this Hawk once again.  The Hawk flies out, still with a good portion of the Starling in it's talons and disappears over the rooftops, not to be seen again that day.

It was one of the more unique Hawk moments I've encountered in our yard over the years.

I have asked for assistance in ID'ing this Hawk.  I've gotten pretty good at Cooper's vs Sharp-shinned especially in our yard when I see them perched and can take long looks at them.  A few of my expert bird buds have given me their 2 cents, and with defining detail about the bird to strengthen the reason for their ID.  But one says "Sharpie", 2 others say "Cooper's".

Since this is not a lifer bird for me, not a new species to the backyard, I think I will chalk it up as "Unique Hawk Moment" and a story to tell.  What do you think?

April 12, 2016

One Year...

Today, April 12th 2016 marks the one year since Meadow's passing.

In one thought I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed. There are moments where this seems just beyond yesterday and at other times it seems much longer. Time sure is a funny thing.

My moments of sorrow and mourning are few and far between now. We went through all the first's without her now. I missed her on my birthday, Halloween, Christmas, the warm months outside, the cold nights cuddled on the couch, Saturday morning coffee and so on.

I fill my thoughts with all the fun we had in our near 12 year journey. For a man and his cat we had plenty. I never liked to leave her for very long. Angie had quite the battle with me to get me to leave the house for more than 1 or 2 nights. So many stories.

I will be forever grateful for the bond we had, the life we shared and I never will forget her for as long as I live.

Today was bizarre as expected. I avoided the Facebook "On This Day" memories because if anything was going to gut me and bring me to a tear or two, that surely would be it. I know the words of my post about her passing. I can think of the comments from so many family and friends about this moment. Everyone knew about our bond and loved or at the very least respected it if they weren't exactly a cat lover.

But even with my avoidance of that app on Facebook, my thoughts to that last morning together played out in my head. I had spent the night on the couch with her. We had one last big long snuggle and sleep watching a dvd like we did countless nights. She was so ill and toxic with her organs failing, we could easily see things were on the fuzzy side for her now. Yet she'd break through that cloud and as I showered early that morning, she ended up joining me in the bathroom like she always did. She got out of her bed in my housecoat and walked downstairs full of grace and happiness to be with me in one of our routines.

We had one last coffee together.

So many hugs and pats.

I never cried. I kept myself together for her. Who knows how many times I told her I loved her, that she was the best girl in the whole world. I saved the outburst of tears after it was done. I'm sure she sensed all my emotions but I did my absolute best to conceal any signs of sadness which in this moment for me I would consider weakness. I am her daddy, I had to be strong for her. I cared and protected her all her life, I was not going to buckle now.

I had a chilling moment at 8:15am as I know this was about the time she went to sleep in my arms. I made a coffee, threw a little Bailey's in it and toasted her with a straight shot. I could have done 40 Creek but my stomach just wasn't ready for it.

Today begins year two. In some ways a new life now as we've gone one year of 'everything in a year' without her.

She's been on all my pages... Facebook, Twitter, this blog cover photo for one solid year now. I'm not sure if anyone has noticed or not, she's always been visible to the world for the last 365 days. Profile pics or cover shots, she's been there gracing us with her beauty and memory. Perhaps moving forward this will change? I guess it's silly to some but I just couldn't take her down like that. Not yet. I am not filled with sadness as I look at her photos, well not all of them anyway. Life is not meant to be filled with sadness, even as we lose the ones we love. Most would rather be remembered for the great things in their lives, the wonderful memories and nothing but the happiness. Even our pets I am sure would rather be remembered for the joy they brought us.

If you happen to catch this blog, maybe you were one of Meadow's "fans" the last number of years, and can remember a funny photo or moment I have shared. Maybe think about your own "fur kids" and love them a little more after this and for the rest of their days. It sure stinks that they don't live as long as most of us humans do.

I will think more of Meadow today than any other day this year. I love you sweet girl. I am happy I made sure you knew it always.

On a sorta side note, Angie is participating in a Bowl-a-thon with the Toronto Cat Rescue in 2 weeks. It's a charity event to raise money for TCR and all the cats they help through the year. A small donation really does go a long way here. Angie is bowling in memory of Meadow...

If anyone who is not familiar with Meadow, here are some blog links and a couple last photos...

The gutting end blog...

As I healed...

She loved her yard, and the Squirrels. As for other cats coming in... no way!

Did you know how spoiled of a Princess she was?

Did you know how much she loved to lay out in the sun and feel the warm rays?

Did you know how much she loved flowers? Always a reminder for us to stop and smell them once in a while, embrace those beautiful moments.

And she loved to have fun...

Making the bed was always a blast!

Late nights on Whisky Wednesday with me.  It was all good, no matter what we did.

Thanks for stopping in. As always I appreciate the time you take out to read my blog(s).


April 4, 2016

Afternoon Visit

Quiet weekend at home, which isn't a bad thing really. And around noon on Saturday Angie says "there's a Raccoon!" as she looked out the kitchen window.

"Sweet! The nature channel is on!" I thought to myself as I quickly grabbed my camera and shoes.

For the most part, I sat on the back deck for the next hour and watched this guy "monkey around" in the trees. The neighbour 2 doors over has a couple dogs who can be a little rambunctious and the Raccoon watched the crazy dog show from the safety up in the trees. He could see over the fence and look down to the dogs.

Mid-day, sun is shining, perhaps time for a nap?

But those dogs won't stop barking. "For the love of god, shut up!"

If I did not know better, I'd say he was radioing his friends, giving a "dog report".

"Yes, yes! That's it you damn dogs, kill each other, and the food will be mine!" Those dogs weren't calming down and do get pretty rough with each other. The noises aren't a joy to hear even from within our kitchen (windows closed).

Might as well have a wash up here.

Okay, enough with the commentary on the photos.

It was an enjoyable moment on Saturday, just watching this guy do his thing and after some monitoring on his health, I really kicked back and took it all in. Monitoring? Yes, making my own observations on him because he is outside during daylight hours. So many concerns of canine distemper with these animals and in his best interest I looked hard at him.

One sign is the animal being out in the open during the day... but this is NOT the case for every wandering Raccoon, or even Skunk or Opossum.

Another sign is showing no fear of humans. Many of these animals living in the 'burbs are so used to humans that this is not always the case. Have one or two people regularly offering them food and suddenly the animal is less fearful of humans. This guy was okay with where I sat but as soon as I stood up, he backed up some, his focus now on me 100%. To me, a good sign he's okay. He is alert.

Other signs list confusion and wandering aimlessly, almost as if they are blind. This guy knew what he was doing, where he was going, he worked his way through the trees like a boss (even on the flimsiest branches) and after the time in the tree, he came to the ground and scavenged for peanuts or anything else in the area.

I read on one page when researching canine distemper that the animal may become aggressive when cornered. Geez, if that were absolute truth, then every wild animal would be diagnosed with distemper. Sick or in good health, no wild animal will be okay with being cornered by a human even those you might consider tame as you hand feed them.

Another *diseased* word I am seeing too much these days is "rabies". Some individuals are throwing such a serious illness around rather lightly. I'm not turning a blind eye to the possibility but if you walk around carrying such fear within you, you really will miss out on some great wildlife moments. 

What pisses me off even more is people will use it rather quickly on a Raccoon, not the most admired wild animal to some, but not utter it with other mammals that could just as well carry such a terrible illness. I call it "ammo for the haters". It makes me sad how closed minded some people can be, and feel quite justified with using this word so willy nilly. It reminds me of the SARS outbreak, or the Swine Flu, anyone coughing or sneezing surely had it.

So ya, all be well with this Raccoon, now let's enjoy some more photos.

Watching the dogs.

Watching me.

Just hanging around, taking in the glorious sunshine.

Working his way to the ground.

You still sitting there?

Oh boy, peanuts!

No you cannot have any.

Nom nom nom, so good.

Crunch crunch.

Just checking.

Will those dogs ever let up?

Contrary to what some may think, not all of us are carriers of rabies or distemper.  Please remember that.

I shared this photo, had a little game of "Caption This" and some friends took part.  I think Lara's "Walking Dead" bit was my fave but I enjoyed them all and appreciate those who played along.  I envisioned the Raccoon holding a bottle or a smoke, and one of my buds, Mike, helped me out since I'm photo-shop challenged.  I'm still laughing.  If you see a caption for this, please add it to the comments below.

Cheers from the Raccoon and I!