Friday, 25 November 2016

The Sea Dog

Introducing a new member of the family: Wegan (from the term "Vegan". Though being a dog, Wegan is not a vegan.)

Wegan was an abandoned puppy. It was unlikely that she was born a stray, because my mother found her in a cardboard box, which was discarded on the edge of a small nearby forest. It was lucky she didn't venture out from the box, otherwise she would have tumbled down a slope and who knows how deep into the bushes.

Wegan in a cage


There was a maggot-infested wound on Wegan's back. Images of maggots were disturbing enough, but seeing the actual thing ... endless wiggling ... the oozing of this horrible, smelly liquid ... 

The maggot wound (yikes!)

The wound was clearly a source of great agitation. Wegan restlessly paced around our home that evening. We took her to the vet the very next day. Overnight, the nasty maggots seemed to have already burrow deeper into the flesh, and we discovered that there were actually two wounds. The other one was smaller, and was still hidden by her fur.

Wegan waits at the vet

The wound after the maggots were removed 

We didn't really plan on keeping a dog, but things flooded in one after another ... Two days right after her first vet visit to remove the maggots, Wegan suddenly lost her appetite and was extremely lethargic. She couldn't walk several steps without her legs going weak. Another vet visit and the vet diagnosed her with tick fever and severe anaemia. Antibiotics and vitamins were prescribed. A blood transfusion was recommended. 

Now, our personal experiences with vets weren't exactly positive, and we all knew that after the energy-draining blood transfusion process, Wegan would simply be placed in a cage next to other ill dogs and be given a bowl of dry, processed dog food. Wegan was frightened of blood tests to the point that she would have muscle spasms. It was our decision to not go with the blood transfusion. Through nutritious, home-cooked meals my mother made, Wegan regained her health. The wound took about a fortnight to heal over.

The above events took place four months ago. Wegan came to our home on the 21st of July. We were people who were more fluent in the language of lagomorphs, so having a dog in the house is something entirely new to our family. Dogs are common companion animals, so to the dog owners out there, this bunny owner has some questions!

A much bigger girl now

1. Wegan is a puppy. She's very sweet - but sometimes it seemed as though she couldn't control herself and would bite and nip us painfully. The situation has improved as she grew up, but are there ways to stop this behaviour? I have Googled, but personal advice from the dog community would be of great help!

2. Wegan eats 3 meals a day (2 meals split into 3 small portions), but she is still somewhat skinny. Her ribs are visible. She has gained considerable weight (currently 6.5 kg), and is a very active puppy ever since she recovered - but shouldn't she be more plump-looking? 

Now finally, the reason behind this blog post's title.

Have you watched the camping episode in the Spongebob series? The Sea Bear is attracted by all sorts of uncommon things like one playing the clarinet horribly, cubed cheese, how running and limping agitates it greatly, etc. There are several things Wegan absolutely cannot stand:

- A dangling piece of cloth or towel
- The swishing sound of a broom
- Knee-length pants
- Plastic bottles
- Our neighbours talking

... Hence the nickname, "Sea Dog". 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

One-Month-Old Rabbit

"I just bought a rabbit. He's a baby, only a month old. What should I do?"

The dilemma of handling an animal looking so small, helpless and fragile.

On the blog, I have voiced that I am against the purchase of animals from pet shops - here is the article listing the reasons why a pet shop isn't the "furry wonderland" it is often seen as.

But all of my rabbits were bought from pet shops, and I love and care for them dearly. This may make me sound like a hypocrite, but the truth is, during that time, I wasn't aware of the big picture at all. I simply saw pet shops as a place where people could get animals.

There have been occasions where I see rabbit owners being shamed for knowing the truth, yet still buying another rabbit from the commercial pet store. Is that wrong? Think of it this way: the commercial pet industry isn't going to crumple within a day, and in cases where the animal in that cage really need helps ...

Yes, there are many others out there, but it's impossible for a single human being to save everyone. At different moments, in different circumstances, we make different decisions. At the very core of it all, the life of the animal changes for the better - isn't that the most important thing? Education the public and spreading awareness solves the problem, not pointing accusatory fingers at individuals.

One of my rabbits, Jippie, is the one-month-old rabbit I brought home from the pet shop. I hope my story serves as a guide to people who may currently have such a young rabbit at home, but are at a complete lost as to what they should do. And to others out there, who have perhaps went through a similar incident, I believe you can relate to what I would be telling!

Baby Jippie and a food bowl


The last rabbit in the pet shop. A small black ball of fur in a cage, with only a bowl of mouldy-looking pellets and a water bottle at a corner. He was so tiny. He couldn't even move around the cage properly because of the wire flooring. When he bended his body to consume his cecotropes, that was when I noticed his right hind leg had a problem, it was angled out in a weird way.

The pet shop owner advised us not to buy him. His tone wasn't sarcastic, it was matter-of-fact. A "problem" meant damaged goods. But we brought him home anyway. We could not be sure whether or not he would live, but no matter the outcome, at least he would be in proper care with us.

Jippie, as we had named him, settled into our home. Somehow - and I cannot remember what prompted us to do this rather silly thing - we housed him in a pet carrier.

First day home - baby Jippie in the pet carrier

Jippie's food was the same as Dutchie - Timothy hay. He was given a very small amount of pellets in the morning and evening. No fruits were fed, but after a week or so, we began feeding him several tiny vegetable leaves, plucked from Dutchie's portion of vegetables. At times of the day when we were free, we would let Jippie out from the carrier. I thought I was mentally prepared for baby Jippie's lack of litter habits, but oh boy, I really didn't expect new pools of urine every three to five hops ... This is absolutely no exaggeration.

Dutchie and Jippie

One issue we had completely not foreseen, however, was his bum. Because of that hind leg, Jippie's bum tended to land right back on a puddle of urine. Even with a two-layer litter box, his tail and all the fur around his bum was a wet and smelly mess within three days. It was impossible for him to clean up himself.

Bathing rabbits was 99.9% associated with the rabbit being shocked to death. The ultimate dilemma.


  1. Bum continues to be soaked with urine --> Unpleasant odour. Unhygienic. Very likely to lead to skin irritation, urine scald, attract flies, etc.
  2. Try bathing using all our common sense --> Rabbit will become clean, despite the myth.


No fight. Option 2.

*But I do have to highlight that the bathing process was very gentle. We poured small bowls of lukewarm water onto his bum slowly, and the "shampoo" we used was a very mild face cleanser.

Jippie was so comfortable after the bath that he flopped over and groom himself - something he had not done for a week. Perhaps even he couldn't stand how he smelled himself!

There were so many more challenges to come, but we overcame week one, week two ...

And here we are at four years.

Look at that handsome faceee! (Forever our little baby though.)

Friday, 1 April 2016

Regarding Pet Shops: Reasons Against the Commercial Purchase of Animals

Behind the image of the furry ball of cuteness … a reality not all fluffy and wonderful.

Those little rabbits people see sitting in a pet shop's cage? Often times, they are frightened of the human fingers prodding in between the metal bars. Have you ever noticed the small, startled “jump” a bunny would make when someone touches him/her?

And those other rabbits hunched up with their front paws tucked underneath? They are probably in distress and discomfort, due to a severe stomach upset from the inadequate diet they have to eat every single day.

Facts regarding pet shops:
  • From their point of view, animals are products; items which can be sold to yield profit. Even if several rabbits fall ill and die, “so what”?
  • Given the reproductive abilities of rabbits (1 female can give birth to 6-12 kits monthly), the pet store can easily get new ones to “replenish stock”.
  • Most of the times, pet shops also sell rabbits who are too young. These young rabbits aren't even completely weaned – yet having the appearance of adorable miniature plushes, they attract many, many buy-on-impulse sales.

Common misconceptions from pet shops:

"Why must rabbits eat hay? My local pet store only gives them a bowl of pellets each.”


Answer: High-fibre grass hay such as Timothy hay is crucial in maintaining the efficiency of a rabbit's digestive system. A rabbit's gut needs to be constantly moving, and hay provides the fibre needed. Sadly, the majority of the pet shops choose to feed only pellets for the sake of convenience and to save costs.

“Shouldn't rabbits be kept in a cage? I notice some pet shops even keep 5 – 6 rabbits in one.”

Answer: Rabbits may be smaller in size compared to dogs and cats (which gives the impression of being “compact”), but they require just as much space! In cages, rabbits can't stretch out or stand up on their hind legs properly. Not only is this mentally stressful, in the long-term ... it could lead to frightening physical health issues.

Erling was kept in a small hutch for 10 years. When Erling finally was rescued, he could hardly walk.  
Radiographs revealed degenerative arthritis in his spine as well as his knees, hips and shoulders, incisor overgrowth and a sludgy bladder. This had probably caused pain and discomfort for several years. However, the most obvious was nevertheless his lack of abdominal muscles. Since the rabbit never had developed and maintained a normal musculature, there was nothing that kept the intestines and stomach in place. Radiographs of Erling looked more like a run-over frog than a rabbit. 
Erling passed away soon after. 
“Erling got to be 10 years old, but he only lived for 8 weeks.” 
Marit Emilie Buseth, Ten years in a hutch and the effects of a sedentary life, <http://ww1.rabbit-behaviour-health-and-care.com/>

We have all grown up with the idea of pet shops – the “place where there are friendly, furry animals” … It is the lack of awareness that we unknowingly contribute to the suffering of more animals. All of us meant no harm, as many of our animals companions indeed came from pet shops.

They were the lucky ones. What about the others?


Look at the reality of pet shops, and let us not be the blind purchases of animals. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Composting

Garbage should be thrown into the bin, where it belongs to keep the environment clean.

Moral education since childhood.

Then one day, I came across the fact that:
  • 80% of our household waste is biodegradable.
  • The biodegradable trash in landfill sites doesn't break down at all.


... There is a misconception that biodegradable trash will break down naturally while it's in the landfill, and that the landfill site will eventually be "emptied" some day. But the truth is, it doesn't.

The scientific explanation (it's not advanced biology, don't worry):
  1. In landfills, waste tends to be compacted very tightly so as to reduce the space they occupy.
  2. As a result, there is not much oxygen in a landfill site.
  3. Also, a landfill site often lacks dirt and useful microorganisms.
  4. Therefore, we can all make the simple conclusion: Nearly nothing breaks down in a landfill site. 

This is a worrying fact. No doubt. Like so many other facts that we actually all know. But for this problem, we don't have to wait for some new green technology to be invented. We can do something about this. Those trash came from our homes, and we have the responsibility to think twice before dumping things into the garbage bin.

Nope, the solution isn't Reduce, Reuse or Recycle - it's impossible to apply these common Go-Green tips on dried weeds, fruit peels or pieces of wilting vegetables.

Personally, I feel that the method is even satisfying and easier than sending a stack of old newspapers to the recycling centre because:
  • you can do it by yourself
  • you can actually see the outcome
As suggested by the title, the answer is: Composting.

- - -

I began composting about a year ago. Once I got into it, I came to realize how much stuff I had been throwing away:
  • tea bags and egg shells from morning's breakfast
  • vegetable roots and fruit peels (Well, our little Jup would eat them if we aren't looking!)
  • fruit pulp from the juicer
  • dry leaves, weeds and twigs from the garden 
... The list goes on and on. 

I'm using a medium-sized flowerpot as the "compost bin". I filled it with some soil, and began to toss most of my daily kitchen scraps into the pot.

When I first started out, it looked as though the kitchen scraps were non-biodegradable. It was quite amusing, really. Each morning I'd turn the pile over to aerate it, then I'd spot a carrot top I threw into the pot two days ago looking as fresh as ever.

Ah, but time was all my trusty compost pot needed. The decomposition rate gradually sped up - those microorganisms are working like nobody's business now!



How to Compost
The details and many facts of composting can make up a whole website, but basically it's simply about:

  1. Dumping biodegradable household trash into a container.
  2. Ensuring it breaks down. 
That's the core of composting! 


Here are some points you do need to take note of:
  • To give your compost pile a start-up, add some garden soil. The soil contains the microorganisms essential for decomposition to take place.
  • The compost bin should be placed in a sunny location. A higher temperature speeds up decomposition. 
  • To ensure that your compost pile doesn't smell like a sour garbage heap, maintain a balance of brown and green materials, about 2 : 1.
    • Examples of brown materials: twigs, dry leaves, shredded paper 
    • Examples of green materials: pieces of unwanted vegetables, fruit peels.
  • Chop larger materials into smaller ones. Again, this helps speed up decomposition.
  • Use a garden fork to turn the pile every few days or so for aeration purposes. Decomposition can't take place without oxygen!
  • Do not throw meat or bones into your compost pile.

We may not be 100%-environmentally-friendly, but for now, we should incorporate such green practices (All. Hail. Composting.) into our lives and do as much as we can.

This is how we should all keep the environment clean. 

- - -

Lastly.

If you happen to be a cheapskate (Ahh, you know who you are) who loves gardening, have you ever calculated how much money you spent on buying "high quality" commercial soil and fertilizers when you can be making both for FREE?

... And that also, you actually know what it's in the dirt you're using for your herbs and plants?



Recently, I came across this picture on Facebook. Food for thought.