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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Distressed animals are discovering human help


After reading a satire piece Saturday about how Tweety-bird hired an attorney to sue Twitter, I noticed The Idaho Statesman posted a staff report featuring a bewildered parrot waiting at the Idaho Humane Society. In Did Tweet do the twick?, they say, “It was impossible to ignore a Friday morning tweet from the Idaho Humane Society: "Missing a parrot? Stray parrot waits in our humane enforcement office. He won’t talk."

Remarkably, the humane Twitter report help redirect the lost parrot to its Zoo Boise home.

As the ‘impossible to ignore’ quote stuck in my craw, it reminded me of a recent story about a sick loggerhead sea turtle that swam to the hospital doorstep of the ‘only place in the world, licensed solely to treat turtles.’ In that Florida case, the 73 lb. under-the-weather reptile somehow knew precisely where to go, to seek help.

In another case, in February, the Toledo Blade reported a deer that walked into a PetSmart with a wounded hind leg, from behind two trash bins outside the store:

“The animal, found in a pool of bloody snow, proceeded to jump and run into the just-opened door leading into the building’s stockroom. Once inside, the female deer lay down on the floor as blood dripped from her left hind leg, recalled store Manager Trudi Urie.

Staff moved quickly to seal the entrance to the shopping area. "The last thing we wanted was a bloody deer running through," she said.

Ms. Urie figured that the appropriate thing would be to call an animal control officer. But with none nearby, employees called Rossford police. They also beckoned Dr. Cuesta, who works in the veterinary clinic inside PetSmart. Yesterday Dr. Cuesta recounted how after examining the doe and finding it in good health aside from the leg, he told officers he could treat it right there on the stockroom floor, so it could return to the wild.

The leg needed serious work. Dr. Cuesta said it had two or three deep cuts and that bone was showing through the fur. He said he could not determine what caused the injury.

Observers said that despite the injury and unfamiliar surroundings, the deer maintained a surprising degree of calm.

Clinic assistants held down the animal and placed a white towel over its head so it wouldn’t be spooked.

Dr. Cuesta placed a numbing agent on the wounds and began administering an electrolyte fluid under the deer’s skin.

The veterinarian closed the wounds with dissolvable stitches.

Before finishing their work the team gave pain medicine and an antibiotic to prevent infection.

Finally, everyone stepped away and began to motion the deer out the door.

"We took off the towel from her eyes and slowly she got to her feet," Dr. Cuesta said. "She stood frozen for a few seconds, but after that she ran out of the store."

There’s no answer yet for what may have first attracted the deer to the PetSmart building.

While it’s said that animals can smell fear, what is less known is whether they can sniff out good will and free medical care.

"Of all the places to run into, a pet store that has vets in it," marveled Ms. Urie, adding with a laugh: "If it would have went into a Bass Pro, it would have been a different story."

Though stitched up and medicated, the deer wasn’t back in the woods quite yet. Dr. Cuesta recalled how there was no small amount of distress among his staff when the doe ignored an open field and instead darted across an intersection.

The deer stopped for a moment in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant. It wandered for a few seconds, and then dashed into a field and out of view.”

Right as I was prepared to post this, I discovered another synchronistic article from the Vancouver Sun’s Nicholas Read:

Mother duck’s ‘bird brain’ saves ducklings

She grabs police officer by pant leg to lead him to her brood trapped under grate

Don’t mention "bird brains" to Ray Petersen, because after what happened this week, he won’t hear a word of it. Petersen, a community police officer for Granville Downtown South, was walking in the 1500-block Granville Street (directly under the Granville Bridge) Wednesday morning when a duck came up and grabbed him by the pant leg. Then it started waddling around him and quacking. "I thought it was a bit goofy, so I shoved it away," Petersen said in an interview. But the duck, a female (he thinks it was a mallard), wasn’t about to give up that easily. Making sure she still had Petersen’s eye, she waddled up the road about 20 metres and lay on a storm sewer grate. Petersen watched and thought nothing of it. "But when I started walking again, she did the same thing. She ran around and grabbed me again." It became obvious to him then that something was up. So when she waddled off to the sewer grate a second time, Petersen decided to follow. "I went up to where the duck was lying and saw eight little babies in the water below. They had fallen down between the grates." So Petersen took action. He phoned police Sergeant Randy Kellens, who arrived at the scene and, in turn, got in touch with two more constables. "When they came down, the duck ran around them as well, quacking. Then she lay down on the grate," Petersen said. While Kellens looked over into the grate, the duck sat on the curb and watched. Then the two constables, John Schilling and Allison Hill, marshaled a tow truck that lifted the grate out of position, allowing the eight ducklings to be rescued one by one with a vegetable strainer. "While we were doing this, the mother duck just lay there and watched," Petersen says. Once the ducklings were safe, however, she set about marching them down to False Creek, where they jumped into the water. Kellens followed them to make sure they were all right, but elected to remain on shore. The experience has changed Petersen’s mind about ducks. He thinks they’re a lot smarter than he used to. And while he never ate duck before, he says he wouldn’t dream of it now.

These stories make me curious about how many more incidents there are of animals mysteriously finding their way to human helpers and healers. If you know of any, I would certainly be interested to hear about what you have to tweet.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bridge over Muddy Waters

Seeing how treacherous the Big Wood looks lately reminds me of an incident five years ago; before they smashed Ski View Lodge into smithereens...

That year, it was another wet spring and one late afternoon, there was a tap at my shack door. It was Rapping Tim[i] and he brandished a large chainsaw. Tim was a skilled jack-of-all-trades and he needed some assistance. The wooden bridge he helped construct twenty years before, was taking a beating from dozens of logs stuck and bobbing beneath. With Trail Creek running furiously, it was clear this logjam would soon become worse.

Tim asked if I could ‘spot’ him, and as he wheeled back his chain cord, I noticed his sneakers were without tread. Then as he stood close to me over the bowed and slippery bridge, to speak over the raging creek, I smelled whisky on his breath; and I’m sure of that, because I had rum on mine at the time.

Tim courageously cut into the logjam. After several minutes, he eventually freed several. I was amazed to see him operate the chainsaw skillfully, with the running blade mostly submerged. This reminded me of underwater chainsaws invented out of necessity.

Tim faced downstream as he meticulously sliced away at a fallen Tamarack. Meanwhile the upstream started providing weighty backlogs, to press precariously against the old bridge. I envisioned that at any moment a large cottonwood could come rushing downstream, fly up off the stuck logs and knock Tim into the muddy water.

Maybe that’s why he wanted me to stand there. I was to warn him of flying logs. I wasn’t doing anything else besides standing there on the slippery slope. Perhaps he wanted me there as moral support, or maybe I was to perform a miracle rescue, while simultaneously speed-dialing 911, as Tim slipped in Trail Creek’s drink.

Despite Tim’s epic efforts, that year, eventually enough logs battered into the bridge braces to swipe it away. Looking back at it now, I think Tim just wanted me there as an eyewitness for that memorable experience. He took a lot of pride in that legendary footbridge and wanted it to last. I miss it as much as I miss the sunny days of our tumbledown shack. And often when I pass though that area, I glance down to where it used to cross Trail Creek and then pine a little for the old Ketchum days


[i] Not his real name.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Witness Protection Plan

She’s a Jehovah’s Witness they say,

Always speaking in mysterium

I’ll turn the conversation toward rainbows and power dreams

Then she’ll wind it back to

Old Jehovah the grey beard

I’ll ask something like,

“Did you see the double rainbow on Earth Day?"

And she’ll reply with absolute certainly,

“I know who painted it and what type of brush he used.”

She’s attracted to nature and power lines

The other day I saw a photo of her with three

power strings reaching to the sky like a

Cherub strumming cool chords.

I don’t want to be closed-minded –

I wish that she and I could just have a regular conversation

Without her feeling like Jehovah is witnessing everything.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

What's he building in there?

Sun and wind are best for us

(200 word version)


It’s disconcerting to read Rep. Mike Simpson tout nuclear as the best green option in our energy debate. He claims, “France learned long ago that nuclear energy is safe, abundant and cheap.”

While it’s true France uses 80 percent nuclear power, there’s a big brouhaha going on about related problems. For one, the French lay their insidiously deadly toxins to rest for millennia in poor peoples backyards. Much like Three Mile Islands’ skeleton core here in Idaho.

While Mr. Simpson says nuclear energy is safe, a uranium leak last summer in France, led to a user ban in two Vaucluse Rivers. What if we had to forgo boating and fishing in our Snake?

Rep. Simpson concludes, “Who wants their grandmother’s kidney dialysis machine to rely on wind energy on a calm day or solar energy when the sun is not shining?” Naturally, concerned relatives want reliable backup generators for such concerns, and currently scientists are developing innovative products that run off both solar and wind power, and require infrequent charges.

Instead of greenwashing Grandma with putrid plutonium promises, wouldn’t she rather see us funding her grandchildren’s colleges with more R&D to augment what safe, abundant sun and wind can generate?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sun and wind are best for us

It’s disconcerting to read Rep. Mike Simpson touting the most dangerous element under the sun (Idaho Statesman, May 31) as the best green option in the energy debate. Mr. Simpson says, “France learned long ago that nuclear energy is safe, abundant and cheap.”

While it is true that France uses over 80 percent nuclear power for electricity, there is a big brouhaha going on over there, about some enormous problems this has wrought. For instance, where do you think the elite French are trying to lay their insidiously deadly toxins to rest for millennia? Why it’s being shoveled into poor peoples backyards, of course. Much like the Three Mile Island skeleton core transported to radiate here in meager Idaho’s National Lab.

While he claims, nuclear energy is safe; perhaps Mr. Simpson does not realize that a uranium leak last summer in one of France’s nuclear plants, led to a fishing, swimming and well-water drinking ban in two Vaucluse rivers. How would he feel if we found ourselves forced to forbid recreational boating, fishing and simple splish-splashing in our Snake?

At the conclusion of Rep. Simpson’s argument he asks, “Who wants their grandmother’s kidney dialysis machine to rely on wind energy on a calm day or solar energy when the sun is not shining?” This is preposterous fear mongering. Naturally, concerned relatives would want reliable backup generators available for such important concerns. And, currently some inspired scientists are developing innovative products that run off both solar and wind power, and only need charged every four days.

Instead of greenwashing Grandma with putrid plutonium promises, perhaps she would rather see us funding her grandchildren’s colleges with more research and development departments to augment what safe, abundant and inexpensive sun and wind can generate for us, and the lifesaving machines we rely upon.