Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day of rescue

Yesterday was a day of rescue. The day before, the vet’s office in Pinedale called me about a sheep dog that had been brought in that was in very bad condition. I was in town for a meeting, so I dropped by to look at her and confirm it wasn’t a dog I knew. I didn’t know her, but was struck by how much she resembles my older female Akbash, Luv’s Girl. This young dog had recently had pups, was battling a raging internal infection, and was very weak, her unkept coat full of tags and discharge. I couldn’t get her image out of my mind as I drove home making calls trying to be sure none of my sheepmen friends were missing a dog. None were, and she had been picked up in a fairly remote mountainous region. It was obvious she hadn’t been cared for in a very long time.

So yesterday morning when Jim prepared for work, I asked him to put the dog crate into his truck “just in case” he needed it before the end of the day. I called the vet’s office when it opened, and said I would take the dog, but they cautioned that they weren’t sure she was going to make it. I suggested she might do better in my quiet grassy kennel with sheep grazing nearby than in a sterile kennel in town with unfamiliar noises, if they thought I was able to provide the care she needed. They would get back to me by the end of the day, so I headed out to check the herd, believing I probably wouldn’t get the dog after all.

The sheep were fine, and as I approached our place on my return trip home four hours later, I saw the Wyoming Game and Fish Department regional supervisor Bernie Holz sitting across the highway in his pickup truck. I waved and continued to the house, and once inside, opened the living room curtains and noticed something wasn’t right in the landscape spread out before me. A bright white object was dangling under the osprey nesting platform half-mile across the pasture. One of the juvenile birds had become entangled in the nesting material and was hanging upside down under the nest, unable to free itself. The birds are extremely attracted to the brightly colored twine used on hay bales, of which there is a never-ending supply in ranch country.

I drove back to talk to Bernie and learned he’d called the power company, and a bucket truck should arrive within the hour. I continued on with my chores while I waited for the power company, and during that time received the call from the vet’s office. The dog was doing a little better and they had decided she would be happier with me, but whether she would survive was still questionable. I called Jim and asked him to pick up our new friend on his way home from work.

The power company arrived and I photographed the process of two men untangling the by now completely limp young osprey. They placed the bird back into the nest while its mother screamed and hovered nearby.

When I checked on the bird at 6 p.m., he seemed lifeless, with the wind blowing his tail and wing with no resistance.

Jim brought the rescue dog home and we set out to make the nervous dog comfortable, putting out hay for bedding, and food and water. She seemed to settle down when Jim put an armful of wool left over from this spring’s shearing into the pen. She stuck her nose deep into the wool, then curled into it as her bed. We took her a few treats, which she politely consumed once we departed, but we mostly left her alone for the evening, softly talking to her out an open window.

This morning Jim had to force an antibiotic pill down the dog’s throat - regrettable but necessary. Within a few hours, she was up and wagging her tail while she barked at another dog and the nosey burro lurking nearby. When I went into the kennel to clean up, she showed me her belly in submission. Nice, but I prefer happy wags, not submission. Still, it was progress.

Bernie left a message asking for an osprey status update, but I dreaded returning his call since at last check yesterday the bird was flat as a pancake, getting blown about by the wind. I decided to check the nest one more time to be sure and was shocked to see both juveniles sitting upright next to their mother this morning. One juvenile flew from the nest, but the other remained. Still recuperating from yesterday, it had at least survived the night and was upright today.

That’s major progress for both my rescued critters from yesterday. I’ll take every small success I can get.


PBurns said...

Great post, great story, and hope for continued good news on both fronts.


Cat Urbigkit said...

Thanks Patrick. Things are still going well - I got wagged at last night, and again this morning, so my new guardian girl is doing a little better. She's still weak, but getting her appetite back.

I see both young osprey hanging out at the nest again this morning, so I'm hopeful that perhaps our youngster is just sore and will recover.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story and I love those happy endings.


NorCal Cazadora said...

Beautiful photos of the osprey family, and what a day! I'm really glad to hear the young osprey made it. I know their young have a high mortality rate, but when they die because of things we've done (like leaving out bailing twine), it's a real shame.

Good to hear about the dog too, and sad that she found herself in that state. My mom has a rescue dog - a border collie that was abandoned alongside a road with eight pups. People just have no sense.

Cat Urbigkit said...

The baling twine thing makes me insane. As sheep producers, we hate the stuff because it can contaminate our wool, so we obsess about keeping it picked up and burned. But there was a man who rented the ranch across the river that cut the twine from the bales and let them drop to the ground FOR YEARS. I can't tell you how many pickup truck loads of that crap we've collected and burned. Of course the guy went out of business, but people will be cleaning up his mess for years to come.

Mary Ann said...

wonderful story--thanks for the hard work and compassion you've shown the bird and the dog. I'd love future updates.

Anonymous said...

How the other dogs - Rena, Rant - meet this new one?

Cat Urbigkit said...

This dog is too weak to meet the other dogs that are with the herd (which is about 40 miles away). Rena has met her through the kennel walls, and tries to guard her from the approaching horses, which the new girl doesn't really like or need. Rena is jealous too, but is a very friendly girl, so I know they will be fine. Rena often encounters other LPDs that go through our ranch, and it's never a big deal.

Anonymous said...

How is she doing now?

I read that range dogs follow the sheep, how do they find food?

thank you
pinkconfetti1 at yahoo dot com