Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

October 6, 2016


Well the jig is up, the news is out, the Raccoon neighbours have been found out about!

It was something I knew would eventually happen. It was something that concerned me from the beginning; just on how the property owners would handle this situation.

A quick re-cap. Back in the Spring of 2014, I noticed Squirrels had made a hole in the back section of a neighbour's garage roof. Their garage is detached. We live on a crescent, and this home is actually one street over, but the back part of this garage hangs over the fence next door. The property owners cannot see this section of the garage from the ground on their side.

I was a good neighbour and tried to tell them what was happening. The person I was trying to communicate with did not speak English so I was treated to a couple very strange looks, like I was a 10 headed alien, and then the man just walked away. It was an awkward WTF moment and then I was like "well I tried to tell you" in my head and left it at that. I seldom see these people so whatever.

Spring 2015 a mother Raccoon discovered this hole, made it bigger and used it to have her babies within. The mother and her children lived there through this past winter until she had young again and then the previous year's young moved on.

It's been a real treat this year since "momma" got to be quite used to my presence outside and she either accepted me or ignored me for the most part. As her young grew, their first looks into the wild world outside this roof included me. To them I was part of the territory and they too did the same as mom... accept or ignore.

I enjoyed the many mornings and nights where I was being watched by the Raccoons. For many days at least one was there looking down at me while I filled bird feeders, did yard work or was taking photos of birds (and them).

A few weeks ago some major tree trimming was done over the garages down there. I guess that is when the hole was discovered. But nothing had been done until 2 days ago when someone attached a one way door to the hole. The Raccoons would be able to leave the roof but not get back in.

The silver lining to this is the fact these people actually got a professional who is tackling the situation humanely. The time of year is right as the young are old enough to leave on their own and winter is still a few months away. I do hope they find good shelter elsewhere in the area.

I've heard enough horror stories over the years of how some people deal with situations like this, not having the least bit of concern for the animals and do whatever it takes to get rid of them as fast as possible.

Back in the Spring I saw a Dodge Caravan on the Hwy 401. It was dark blue with the darkest tinted windows a person could possibly get. On the side windows and the back, in duct tape, it said "Wildlife B Gone". The van wasn't in very good condition, rusted bottom, a few dents and big scratches. To me, this paints a crazy visual of a guy with a hammer crawling into an attic going after the Raccoons.

Last night was the first encounter I had with the Raccoons since the door was installed. Momma and the smallest of her litter were on the roof trying to figure out how to get back in. It was sad to watch but I can't blame these people for doing this. If it was us, we most certainly would do the same thing. As much as some think I can talk to the animals, there was no way I could explain to them what was going on. In their mind, this was their home and now it's gone.

I was sitting down by the shed, enjoying my usual Whisky Wednesday. Momma got herself a drink too. They love that water bowl, especially the little one.

I hear Raccoons have more than one sleep spot; hard to believe with these ones since they were here all summer. Obviously they have found another place to sleep the day away. As I said above, I hope it's a good spot... and they stay safe.

Try and not be sad for the Raccoons. This story could have been a lot worse in another neighbourhood, hell, even another house on the street.

A short blog this one was compared to some of my others. I did one a couple days ago but didn't publicize it much. Click here if you would like another read.

October 4, 2016

Two Years With TWC

Last week marked my 2nd anniversary since my first official volunteer drive with the Toronto Wildlife Centre.  My how time flies!

It was a slower year compared to the first.  There were some long lulls and I was having withdrawls from driving wildlife to and from the centre.  Not that I wish for more injured wildlife but some of you get what I'm saying.

By no means did TWC have a slower year than others, it's just that not always was there the need for a person to jump into their vehicle and do the drive(s).  Often the finders gladly bring the animals in themselves.  We, the volunteers, are there when they cannot.

I signed on as a volunteer grocery getter early in 2016 to keep myself active with the centre.  Every Monday and Friday a person does a grocery shop, to keep things in stock, and ensuring they never run out.

I don't like grocery shopping to begin with and this has caused me great stress at times when I am not sure about items like produce as an example.  What's good?  What's not?  Where the hell do I find dandelion leaves?  Or how about whole smelts?  It's been a learning experience and I've had some help from others in finding some of these things I've never had to purchase before.

To help TWC, we must try to find the best deals on items.  This also means it's better to be hitting stores like No Frills and Walmart for saving any money we can for them.  They are a charity run organization.

August was a nightmare in my head for me.  There were over 500 animals in care so the grocery list was massive.  I remember receiving the email with the list the day before and I was going out of my mind looking at the long list.  I cursed and grumbled, not because I did not want to do it, I just didn't know how I was going to do it on my own.  Well some $300 later, my SUV jammed full of everything that was on the list, which had me hit 4 stores and filling 3 shopping carts...  I did it.

I sweated and stressed as I tried to make this grocery shop a total success.  My first stop was Walmart shortly after 7am to get a jump on things.  Note, I work the PM shift and usually am not in bed until 1am.  I'm not giving myself a hero badge or anything, it's just what I did to try and fill the order sooner than later.  I wanted to be sure I had plenty of time to get everything and hit other places if I had to.  I knew if I couldn't fill the order, it would not be the end of the world, but that's not how I like to do things.

The best was when I walked in with the last box or bag of goods.  Total release of tension.  Ahhhhh!

It's great the odd time Angie can give me a hand doing this.  The other months she is used to getting a phone call or two from me while I'm in the process.  I forget things in the moment of stress, stupid stuff like "are sweet potatoes and yams the same thing?"

It is wonderful there are a handful of people willing to help do the grocery runs every month.  A list of the days comes out a week before the start of the month and volunteers get back to them with the day(s) they can help.  Some months the dates fill up fast, other months it's a struggle to get them filled.

Maybe someone reading this might consider looking into joining the volunteer grocery drive?  You do get reimbursed for all purchases; just be sure to keep all your receipts.

It's been an adventure the last couple years.  I've met so many wonderful people.  I've made a few friends but unfortunately I believe I have made a foe or two.  I won't get into that any further, this is a happy blog.

In the 2 years, I have done approximately 80 drives.  I've released about 150 birds of a wide variety of species.  I have brought in about 40 wild creatures in total, and not just birds.  For the most part my drives are just around the west end of Toronto but sometimes go a little further like young Cedar Waxwings to the Hamilton area, Bats from the Milton area, a little Nuthatch from Whitby, a Red-tailed Hawk in Richmond Hill.  If I'm available, time allows and no one else is on it, I most likely will be "putting up my hand".  I don't care if it's a House Sparrow or a Pigeon, Hawk or Owl, Squirrel or Fox.  I signed up to help wildlife...  all wildlife.

Dealing with the GP and representing TWC can be a challenge.  I once had a very difficult time speaking with a woman who had an injured Pigeon.  She feeds the birds.  She feeds feral cats.  A feral cat got a hold of this Pigeon.  Can you see where my thoughts were on this?  I once held back my laughter when I called a gentleman about yet another Pigeon I was going to pick up from his place.  I had called him when I was near his home and his reply to me was that I would have to wait a bit while he emptied his bowels.  Alrighty then!

Usually it is what it is, just picking up and going, but sometimes things aren't what they are supposed to be.  It's always a mystery thanks to the odd moments I've encountered.

One day I hope I can do more for Toronto Wildlife but for the time being, due to shift work, this is what I am able to do and I am good with that.

It will be interesting to see what year 3 is like.  Stay tuned...

Here I am after releasing a couple American Gold Finches in my friend John's backyard.  We were looking for a flock to send them out with, giving them their best chance at a second chance.  John was hosting a dozen or so birds for many weeks and he was happy to have a couple more added to his visiting flock.  What's two more mouths to feed when it comes to little birds?  Normally I am alone with releases, so this was a rare opp to have others present, and it was cool that a photo was taken.


September 16, 2016

Be Careful What I Wish For...

This summer has been so lackluster for story telling. There have been moments where I've wished for some excitement so I have something to blog about. I really must choose my words wisely because this blog about the last week is proof that I must be careful what I wish for.

Late last week our cat Molly turned very ill.

The girls just had their annual a couple weeks ago and everything was perfect, as it should be, since they are not even 18 months old yet.

Last Thursday was going fine, the cats ate, and played much of the morning. Shortly after my lunch, as I was getting ready to go to work, I gave them their lunch. The cats ate but about 10 minutes later Molly threw up her food. I didn't think too hard into this as she's done this on occasion in the past. She's the piggy of the pair, or as the vet calls it, the dominant one. She will clean up her dish as quickly as she can and then try to squeeze into her sister's dish and finish up. We have to watch them eat, especially the wet food, to ensure this doesn't happen. So ya, I wasn't overly concerned, even when she did a second projectile vomit across the kitchen floor.

I texted Angie about this happening just so she was aware for when she got home. This was just more of a warning for my wife to not step in anything as I didn't think it would continue. Well, Molly threw up a few more times throughout the next couple hours... on the new bedding, on the new carpet in the basement. As frustrating it was that she chose these places to throw up, it wasn't nearly as upsetting as knowing there was something really wrong with our crazy girl.  This continued over the next 24 hours, couldn't keep anything down.

When an animal gets sick, there's a lot of wondering about what is going on because they simply cannot tell us. We look at everything, over-analyze till it hurts and come up with a huge list of possibilities, and none of them may be right.

The next day she went to the vet. Extensive testing was done especially since Molly is the type of cat who will put things in her mouth, she plays with the oddest stuff, finds things in the house we never knew were lying around anywhere. I swear no matter how many times we've gone through this house since these 2 came to our home as tiny kittens, Molly still seems to find something she shouldn't. She knows it too, when she has one of those things, because she will trot right past us, proud as a Peacock with her discovered treasure, her new toy for the day.

We've gone overkill with kitty proofing the place. Cheap curtain rods across our kitchen cupboard doors, items in tupperware and not bags, all dishes are rinsed after a meal and not left sitting, no food left out, lids on our garbage cans, bird seed of any kind is not to be found as she's taken a few mouthfuls of that in the past (which once made her quite unwell too), and the list goes on.

All tests came back normal. Good blood work, nothing in the x-rays, vitals fine.

Despite everything saying she was fine, she was not. She didn't want to eat, didn't want to drink, and was just a lethargic pile of multi-colored fur.  One thing we learned about x-rays is that they don't show everything, stuff like paper won't come up in an x-ray.  Paper can sit in an animal's stomach for a long time, just swelling due to fluids.  Yikes!

Since we had no answers and she was just a shell of a cat, we spent the weekend in a tizzy of concern, over-thinking, under sleeping and that wasn't good for any of us. She wanted to sleep and we'd keep checking in on her every hour or so. It was the not knowing that was killing us.

Through all of this, her sister Merry felt it too. Her best pal and play mate didn't want anything to do with her. We were so focused on Molly, that Merry was not given the attention she craved.

She really let us know after a couple days that she was in the house too. Her voice was heard, her pleas did not go unanswered.  Merry and I having a little time outside on Sunday.

But like during Molly's illness, we're going to push her off to the side in this blog.

What was wrong with Molly?  It's stunning how fast an animal can go from perfect health to seemingly deathly ill.  This was her on my lap a day earlier, killing my motivation to go to work.

Food sensitivity was brought up but after 5 days, we've ruled that out. Did she eat something foreign? That was our biggest fear. Our vet was almost certain that was the case. Molly slowly started eating again, and having bowel movements. So thankfully there was no blockage. If she did eat something, it had hopefully passed one way or another.

The only thing left if we weren't seeing any improvement was to get an ultra sound. Our vet, Dr. Allen, told us to wait this out a few more days. His motto is "let's look for elephants before we go looking for zebras". We love our vet and trust his advice, he's not steered us wrong in the past, or had us do anything unnecessary. I do believe if Molly saw our vet initially, that a number of the tests that were done, would not have been prescribed. But it was that moment of worry and we took the recommendations of the first vet we saw. We don't regret it even as everything came up negative to a list of ailments and a slight drain to our bank account.

It was a long weekend at home just being with her, watching over her and trying to keep a level head, get some rest, etc. We would see an improvement, then a set back. Whatever was happening to her was going through the motions. I don't know where or who told us this would be over in 48 hours, if it was some kind of flu bug. As I think about it, we get sick, it can take 7 to 10 days to get over it, and sometimes even longer. There is no bug out there that lives on a clock and when the hours are up, the bug just leaves our body.

Here's some of our weekend at home through images.

Merry missing her crazy sister. They play hard some days, and for lengthy amounts of time.  But this was suddenly gone.

Yes, the morning coffees were very quiet over the weekend. I am overwhelmed with peace when I watch Molly sleep. Of course as peaceful as it was to watch her, worry for her hung over my head.

I'd never seen a cat be so ill like this with no reason.

We had some highs through the weekend.

Some time outside, enjoying the warm afternoons, and chasing the Squirrels that passed their kitty walk.

Look how bright eyed she was Saturday night.

Then there would be hours of this. Sure she has long sleeps, she's a cat; but there are certain sleeping positions they have that point to an unwell animal. Plus we know our Molly.  She was not herself.

After the weekend, there was more signs of our old Molly coming back. But then other weird things started happening like her visiting the water fountain almost hourly and then the litter almost as much. What the hell?!?! Diabetic? This lasted about 36 hours. Then it stopped and went back to normal with only a couple drinks throughout the day, and a couple pees. Our vet could not explain that since she was tested for diabetes on top of many other things. He said it may have been part of the process in her healing, the body flushing whatever out.

Tuesday we could not get a purr out of her for anything even when it was her coming to us.

But day by day, she is getting better. I am confident it won't be long till our mischievous, make us pull our hair out and sternly say "MOLLY!" kitty will be back.

We will drink to that day, in rejoice and her making us need one.  LoL!

It's funny, I know I love these cats, they are our "fur kids". I just didn't realize how much until this happened. Molly may drive me bonkers some days with her crazy antics, all the "Molly proofing" we've done in the house, but she's a part of the family. Everything in Molly's world is big. Her playfulness, her happiness and unfortunately her sickness too.  Hmmm, sounds a lot like her mommy, her biggest fan.

Yesterday, the 15th of September, was my birthday. I took Molly in for a follow up. The last 24 hrs had us seeing her springing back to her old self so if nothing else, this would be a consultation with our vet, and hopefully the last. He too noticed a huge difference in her overall and felt we were in the clear now. PHEW!

Last night we were *ahem* blessed with a 3am wake up from Ms. Molly.  Yes, there she is.  Wheeeeeeeee!

As so many said through their social media support... GO MOLLY!

September 8, 2016

I'm Still Here

I feel like every now and then such a title for my blog is just this. I feel bad I've been neglecting this but I tell ya, the Summer has just drained me. I am not a fan of the humidity and this year it's been extreme if you haven't noticed, well, those living in Southern Ontario anyway.

Just so you know, I'm not wishing for snow anytime soon. A few, well actually "many" is more the word I'd use... or many MANY days of pleasant weather in the Autumn season where I'm not dripping in sweat 30 seconds out the door.

Thanks for hanging in there and not giving up on my blog.

Here are a few photos, in no particular order, of what's been happening around these parts...

We put our cat Merry on a leash and harness as she's not exactly super keen on the kittywalk enclosure. It's taken a bit of work but she really is liking this a lot better. Best thing is Molly doesn't care about her sister roaming about while she is in the enclosure. Merry will never be left unsupervised.

Pierre still comes around but the visits are brief and sporadic. We have some Hawk activity as fall migration is underway. Pierre and most of his flock are dealing with molting right now. I know it makes our Budgies miserable as they say it's rather uncomfortable.

Cooper's Hawk in the backyard, seen more than a few times lately.

We had another domestic bird visitor last weekend. An African-collared Dove. This is the second of this species to come stop in our backyard in the last few summers. Our first was in July of 2014, and I blogged about it as it was exciting due to the uncertainty of the bird species at first. I believe we are at 8 known domestics here in the last 9 years.

As some of you may recall, 2 of the Budgies now live with us. Here is Misfit who will be celebrating her 9th anniversary with us very soon. A few years back she almost didn't make it this far. See here.

Never a dull moment with our Raccoon family down back. The kids are getting so big now!

We have at least 5 Skunks prowling the 'hood after dark. Angie and I were treated to some great views over the Labour Day long weekend.

Things haven't been very busy with volunteering these days. I did take a few migratory birds down to the shores of Lake Ontario, west of Toronto recently including this Chestnut-sided Warbler.

We had 2 Red-spotted Purple Butterflies visit a few weeks back. They were seen daily for about 6 days. Such a beautiful butterfly!

Well, that's it for now. Perhaps not the most exciting stuff to some but I sure love and appreciate the wild world around me.

Be seeing you...

August 26, 2016


Recently looking online through Google, searching about Raccoons, I came across a comic panel. Who didn't love Calvin and Hobbes back in the day? Seeing this one panel suddenly got me searching for the story in it's entirety. I remember this story as I have all of the C&H books from when I was, uh, younger.

I got rather nostalgic in the moment, thinking back to those books, the laughs I had from Calvin's adventures. The love and friendship he and Hobbes shared. How I could so relate to all of this, more so now in my adult years, where I am in tune to my feelings and my appreciation to a bond with an animal.

I also think back to those days, the days when places like Toronto Wildlife did not exist. How we dealt with sick or injured wild animals. We cared and wanted to help but with having no idea what was wrong, what to do, where to go, often it was just keeping them until they died. We gave them warmth, comfort and full bellies. Our hearts were full of love and care to these creatures. We always hoped we did what was best for them.

Here is the complete story line (click on the panels to open them up for easier viewing).

How awesome this story was about a Raccoon! If you haven't figured it out already, I have an admiration for these animals. I may have to pull some of my old C&H books out from storage. It's been years since I've read them.

It's also made me have a "moment" of stronger appreciation for wildlife centres as I think about ever getting into a situation like this again. A few years back I trapped an injured Raccoon that had both back legs broken and some major spinal trauma due to a car strike. If TWC did not exist, that night I probably would have just looked at him in the pouring rain, feeding under our bird feeder, pulling himself around by his front legs and just felt nothing but sadness, eventually turning out the lights, saying a prayer for him, the best prayer I could think of being non-religious and try to go to sleep.

Anyone reading this blog is an animal lover. Maybe you will reflect on a creature you tried to help back in the day? Feel free to share in the comments. Maybe you were a fan of Calvin and Hobbes too? Maybe it's time to rediscover an enjoyable piece of the past?

August 23, 2016

The Little Raccoon That Could

As some of you are aware, we have a family of Raccoons living down at the back of our property, just over the fence.

This is a common sight for me, day and night.

For them, they picked a very safe sturdy place to live... as long as they aren't found out by the property owners. They live in the roof of a detached garage just near our shed. The entry is on the back side of the roof and pretty much hangs over the fence line. We are on a crescent and it really can only be seen from our property.

Now don't go thinking I let this go by without trying to tell them. I'm a good neighbour and as much as I love our wildlife, I will inform a fellow human if something is going wrong on their property. Okay, maybe not so much for the human, but for the animals as one day this may come back on them.

3 years ago Squirrels had made a hole in this roof. I saw someone who lives in the house and I tried to explain to them what was going on. The person looked at me like I had 10 heads. Not because of my mop of hair but because they don't speak English. Worst was he didn't even try to figure out what I was saying, like he didn't even want to know, or even get someone else to come and speak with me. There used to be a guy there I spoke with often over the back fence but have no idea what happened to him, the house was never up for sale.

 So, the following year a Raccoon got in and here we are 2 years with Raccoons in this roof. I still see these people almost every weekend since it's summer, BBQ'ing, playing music, they never acknowledge me... well except one time a few weeks ago when a male guest of theirs was checking out my backside. The guy I tried to speak with before told him I was a male. I never turned around, and while this was in Spanish, I knew what was going on.

I worry about the Raccoons in that roof but really there is nothing I can do. I watch over them and hope nothing tragic happens if they get discovered. I will step in that day, language barrier or not.

Another neighbour feeds them most summer nights. She's been doing it for a few years now. They love to watch the "kids" come out and feast on their leftovers. The sad thing is come the first cold nights in the fall, they shut the door to these animals who have gotten used to the free meals. The people never think anything of it.  I tried to discuss this with them in the past.  Then the door opens again the following year when a new bunch of little Raccoons come out.  I know that food offering is not all they eat in a night. They still search the area for food either in compost bins...

Trash bins.  Someone stuck in ours July 24.  Please always check your garbage bins for them.

And of course release them.

They do find natural food as well. I watched one catch moths in the air one night, grabbing them in it's paws and chowing down on them.

I cleaned out our wasp traps one night, they were inches deep in dead wasps and hornets. The traps reeked of fermented sugar water and insects. I dump them in the garden and witnessed the young Raccoons come out and eat up all the insects.

A few people grow grapes and come August, the Raccoons are ready when the grapes are.

So, that's a little back story for you all, now on to what this blog is really about...

With every new family we get, there's always that one kid. The boldest of the bunch. The more curious. The one who really stands out. A couple years ago it was one who often came up, sniffed our shoes or Angie's butt one night. He licked my leg a couple times when I got too relaxed in the deck chair (falling asleep). He was good for helping himself to the peanut bags and bird seed if I filled the feeders at night.

Here he is, like he was watching the show being me.

I'm pretty this is him a little more grown up.

This year we have one but he's not a food whore like that one. This one is quite mischievous, he loves to explore and find things to touch and play with. He's quite fascinated with shiny things. He knows how to get in the shed and has found a bounty of shiny things to play with... screws! I found a couple on the lawn one night last week and wondered what was up with that? A few nights later I busted the culprit.

Do you see the screw he is holding?

Crop job...

The funniest is with me looking at him, mere feet away, he didn't care. We make eye contact and then he just goes back to toying with it. He is very lucky it is our shed he is making his fun house because I know far too many others who would not tolerate such a thing. I'm just glad he's not taking them out of the wall and he's not using our shed as a latrine.

The following night.

Another night. If you look closely at his left paw, you will see he's got another screw. I don't keep that big bag of peanuts in the shed. I once did, in a large metal tin and the Squirrels sniffed them out, chewing a hole in the door to get into the shed and trying to have at the nuts. Once again, they are lucky they did that here because, well, I won't speak of the horrors I know that other people would do.

The shed doors never closed properly since we put it together and a smart Raccoon can easily gain access if he tries. The hole the Squirrels made sure help. A hole big enough for a Squirrel to pass through or a Raccoon to peek out.

I once tried to block the hole up which prompted the Squirrel to try and chew another hole elsewhere. One hole is enough thank you. And peanuts are not left in the shed anymore.

A couple other pics of our friend you might get a laugh out of.

Checking out an old bird house that I cannot part with. I'm hoping to have another one made just like it one day. So many memories from this box and a few Black-capped Chickadee families too.

It's like Christmas for him.  "What's in this box?"

"Squirrel proof feeder, bet it's not Raccoon proof."

"It's thirsty work being an adventurer."

Good thing I have my own drinks, especially on Wednesdays.  LoL!

He decided to bunk in the shed once, making a bed from a tote and a tarp.  Me accidentally disturbing him sent him scurrying off after I went back to the house.  One thing they don't like is being disturbed when trying to sleep.  I doubt he will go and try this again.

There is a part of me that says I shouldn't entertain this, I should not tolerate it and start scaring the hell out of him. But I can't. It's not in my heart especially since it's nothing upsetting to me. He's not shitting in there and if he breaks some stuff, who cares, it's just stuff. No expensive tools or anything at this house. I will admit I enjoy the encounters. Some fun photo ops after dark when I get home from work. It also allows me to keep a better eye on him and our property. Come home and do this or come home and turn on the television? There will be plenty of cold nights coming in a few months for the television.

Maybe if me coming home and it was like a welcoming committee with him charging at me, climbing on me like Pierre the Pigeon does, that would be different.  I believe that since he's seen me from day one when he first looked out into the big wide world from that hole in the roof, he's seen me so often, that I am just a part of the territory.  I'm almost always there, even if for a brief moment.

I love our Raccoon neighbours and I tell people you have to learn to live with them as they aren't going anywhere.  Don't be lazy about your garbage or your property.  Keep a close eye on your house, especially the roof.  We trim the tree branches back around the house so they can't get up there unless they fall out of the tree which did happen one night last summer.  Poor little one up there didn't know how to get back down.  I had to go and get the ladder, lean it up against the back of the house and step away,  He soon figured out that this was the way down and was quite grateful to reunite with his family in the garden.  Good thing I was home and heard the thud when he hit the roof.

It's a wonderful experience for a wildlife enthusiast like myself; and helps with my animal blogs.

I am pro Procyon! Look at that face, what's not to love? Amazing my patience with them and I have so little for a lot people.