Explosions.
i really am trying!

We started the day with urine and we ended the day with urine. I did go home at lunch to change out his bedding and wipe down the vinyl with vinegar to neutralize the smell. He still had an accident by the time we got home (but only 1!). I got antsy and bought a new, bigger litter box for the big boy, and we threw in some Carefresh bedding that will be a bit gentler on his recovering feet. There were more accidents, but I presume that he will come to like the roomier box. At least that’s our hope.

He’s still so excited to see people, even Wicket. He stretches up against his pen and stands on his hind legs whenever there is someone in the room. He’s so attentive and people driven. Oh, and I thought Squid was a pig when it comes to eating, but apparently I had my definition wrong: Rayn is King Pig. He is so excited by any food item that isn’t his usual Timothy hay. I gave him some organic parsley and arugula from the garden, and whoa, he does the cutest thing when you hand feed him those things. He’ll take an end and as he’s chewing, he throws back his head a couple times. So. Damn. Cute.

The first night we fed him lettuce my husband was surprised by all of the chlorophyll that was left on the plate and on Rayn’s chin. We’ve equated Rayn’s lettuce eating habits to being like a masticating juicer: he crushes the spine and leaves (because he’s such an excited eater) and doesn’t quite swallow all of the juice so some dribbles out of his mouth and down his chin. Last night we made some Rorschach prints on napkins from his drool to match his coat!

Rayn Man’s first 36 hours with us can be summed up in one word: pee. I imagine this is what it’s like to potty train a toddler. Lots of accidents “in bed” and some out, lots of laundry and changed sheets in his pen. We’ve downsized his living space to half to help him better understand that the litter box is “THE NEW HOT PLACE TO GO!”.  After exchanging texts with my friend Liz, a bunny expert and volunteer at Red Door, I had an ample amount of good tips to try to make Rayn’s litter box more appealing. For the next couple days he won’t get free time until he (hopefully) better understands that he should pee inside his litter box, not all over the bedding provided for him to relax on.
Tomorrow I’m going to buy a second litter box to see if maybe a larger one might be more appealing. He came with his box from the shelter, which we all hoped would make him feel like he had something of his own to take with him to his temporary home. I know Squid enjoys her large box that doubles her in size, so maybe Rayn would like the same! He is a big boy after all.
Squid snuck past us into Rayn’s room before we got the gate up. She carefully hopped around his pen and was intrigued. Her discovery of him has not changed her behavior at all, and best, she hasn’t had any accidents outside of her litter box! When I think about her litter box behavior I think we got really spoiled; she’s an immaculate potty goer. She has never had an accident outside of her pen, and the few accidents she’s had inside it have been because she’s shoots pee behind herself, out of the box. She’s generally a perfect pen keeper, too, unless she’s in the process of chewing something. If she’s working on destroying something the result usually looks like a tornado whipped through her pen. I’m starting to believe that Rayn’s potty problems are more common than we’re used to, and in fact, more normal than Squid’s.
My parents stopped over for a second visit with Rayn. I’m pretty sure my mom would want to adopt him if his potty habits got better! She adores him and loves that he’s so friendly and outgoing. He greeted her with a good nip, and I heard her yell from the other room. She too noticed how he’s a super messy eater.
We still have to get ointment on his feet tonight. It’s definitely been a learning experience so far, but I feel like if we can find a good husBUNd for Squid, 2 rabbits will be very doable for our family. Ideally we could get Rayn’s potty problems corrected, he and Squid would love each other, and everyone would live happily ever after… until he pees on something again.

Rayn Man’s first 36 hours with us can be summed up in one word: pee. I imagine this is what it’s like to potty train a toddler. Lots of accidents “in bed” and some out, lots of laundry and changed sheets in his pen. We’ve downsized his living space to half to help him better understand that the litter box is “THE NEW HOT PLACE TO GO!”.  After exchanging texts with my friend Liz, a bunny expert and volunteer at Red Door, I had an ample amount of good tips to try to make Rayn’s litter box more appealing. For the next couple days he won’t get free time until he (hopefully) better understands that he should pee inside his litter box, not all over the bedding provided for him to relax on.

Tomorrow I’m going to buy a second litter box to see if maybe a larger one might be more appealing. He came with his box from the shelter, which we all hoped would make him feel like he had something of his own to take with him to his temporary home. I know Squid enjoys her large box that doubles her in size, so maybe Rayn would like the same! He is a big boy after all.

Squid snuck past us into Rayn’s room before we got the gate up. She carefully hopped around his pen and was intrigued. Her discovery of him has not changed her behavior at all, and best, she hasn’t had any accidents outside of her litter box! When I think about her litter box behavior I think we got really spoiled; she’s an immaculate potty goer. She has never had an accident outside of her pen, and the few accidents she’s had inside it have been because she’s shoots pee behind herself, out of the box. She’s generally a perfect pen keeper, too, unless she’s in the process of chewing something. If she’s working on destroying something the result usually looks like a tornado whipped through her pen. I’m starting to believe that Rayn’s potty problems are more common than we’re used to, and in fact, more normal than Squid’s.

My parents stopped over for a second visit with Rayn. I’m pretty sure my mom would want to adopt him if his potty habits got better! She adores him and loves that he’s so friendly and outgoing. He greeted her with a good nip, and I heard her yell from the other room. She too noticed how he’s a super messy eater.

We still have to get ointment on his feet tonight. It’s definitely been a learning experience so far, but I feel like if we can find a good husBUNd for Squid, 2 rabbits will be very doable for our family. Ideally we could get Rayn’s potty problems corrected, he and Squid would love each other, and everyone would live happily ever after… until he pees on something again.

there’s a new bun in the house.

In late March we adopted a bunny, then called Bumblebee, from Red Door Shelter in Chicago. She was my third bun (but I had been out of the bunny game for several years) and my husband’s first. She was our first. Squid, as she was renamed, came from a trailer park in a neighboring suburb, and was overweight with overgrown nails when the shelter took her in. Everyone was unsure about her prior living arrangements, but she was a sweet and friendly bun when we first met her. After a couple days of hard thinking, we decided she would make a great addition to our family. We were not disappointed.

She is more skittish than my previous bunnies, less trusting and wary. She is a diva and a princess, and has a heartbreakingly sweet side when it’s just me and my husband. She gives tons of kisses, runs around like a lunatic and binkies like a pro. She asks for snuggle time before bed and graciously goes into her pen when we need to go to sleep. Everyday she seems to realize more that this is her home, that we are her people and that she will not be going anywhere else anytime soon.

Today we took in our first foster bun, Rayn Man. He’s estimated to be about a year old, and he was found abandoned in a park during one of the worst floods Chicago has had in years. His feet and underside were badly burnt, he was malnourished, and in a ton of pain when Red Door took him in. He has made a full recovery with some minor hair loss on his feet. He is a large male white and black Rex with a huge Rexy head, a super sweet demeanor and a penchant for snuggling in human arms. He is a dream bun.

I have never fostered an animal in my life. I always wondered how people could do it - take in an animal for a temporary amount of time and then return it. I had always imagined myself to be the type that would automatically be attached to any 4-legged creature that entered my home, so much so that it would be impossible for me to relinquish it unless absolutely necessary. Rayn Man required an overhaul of our second bedroom to make room for his pen. He had a few accidents outside his litterbox, which I was not surprised by but was a tiny bit concerned with. Our first day with him has been long and somewhat stressful, and physically demanding on both me and my husband. Rayn Man also requires an ointment to be put on all four of his feet where there is still hair loss and some skin irritation, so he does require one more bit of care that Squid does not. But as I sit here and type this he is staring at me through his pen. And I’m pretty sure he’s asking me, in his own little bunny way, “Hi, please pick me up and hang out with me!”. I think I’m going to need to do that right now.

I have spent one year visiting Wolf Park. There were 17 wolves one year ago. Today 10 remain. I had the fortunate chance of meeting six of the 7 wolves that passed this year, in addition to nine of the ten current residents. I came at a wonderfully terrible time; wonderful in that I was able to meet 15 wolves with vastly different personalities and quirks. Wonderful because they all had their own story, even though they lived in captivity, and wonderful because they lived so long. But it has been terrible seeing so many of them go. It’s a minor downside to the tremendous amount of care, attention and dedication that the human staff of the park put towards the well-being of their animals.
In May Chetan, my first sponsor wolf, passed. At my last visit with him I met 2 other wolves: Marion and Miska. Marion is 15-years young. I was leery of her, based on how much she had bullied Chetan when they were in a pack together. Miska, at 17, was deemed “unmeetable” by the staff because he was not known for his politeness with new visitors. The staff got both senior wolves leashed and ready to walk around the trail and asked if we would like to join. With an obvious (and enthusiastic) ‘yes!’ Marion and Miska approached us. I stood very still waiting for a signal from them, and Marion presented me with her butt, which was the sign for “scratch here, please”. And Miska, the ill-behaved human tester, presented me with his shoulder. I scratched both and felt their coarse hairs against my fingers. I felt lucky to have met them both.
Miska walked the rainbow bridge on July 21. He was a credit to his species and defied all of the rumors about his naughty nature. I’ll miss seeing his face when I visit the park.

I have spent one year visiting Wolf Park. There were 17 wolves one year ago. Today 10 remain. I had the fortunate chance of meeting six of the 7 wolves that passed this year, in addition to nine of the ten current residents. I came at a wonderfully terrible time; wonderful in that I was able to meet 15 wolves with vastly different personalities and quirks. Wonderful because they all had their own story, even though they lived in captivity, and wonderful because they lived so long. But it has been terrible seeing so many of them go. It’s a minor downside to the tremendous amount of care, attention and dedication that the human staff of the park put towards the well-being of their animals.

In May Chetan, my first sponsor wolf, passed. At my last visit with him I met 2 other wolves: Marion and Miska. Marion is 15-years young. I was leery of her, based on how much she had bullied Chetan when they were in a pack together. Miska, at 17, was deemed “unmeetable” by the staff because he was not known for his politeness with new visitors. The staff got both senior wolves leashed and ready to walk around the trail and asked if we would like to join. With an obvious (and enthusiastic) ‘yes!’ Marion and Miska approached us. I stood very still waiting for a signal from them, and Marion presented me with her butt, which was the sign for “scratch here, please”. And Miska, the ill-behaved human tester, presented me with his shoulder. I scratched both and felt their coarse hairs against my fingers. I felt lucky to have met them both.

Miska walked the rainbow bridge on July 21. He was a credit to his species and defied all of the rumors about his naughty nature. I’ll miss seeing his face when I visit the park.

a bunch of strangers made a pack.

There are a lot of things I remember about meeting my first wolf.

I remember that it was an uncharacteristically cooler day in July during a summer filled with scorching temperatures and drought.  I remember that it was overcast. I remember first being introduced to the main pack of wolves through a fence and wondering how I would ever tell them apart. Then there were the 3-month old wolf pups that had just been born in April; six total, 3 played with their grandma wolf in another enclosure, jumping on humans and being good, curious wolf puppies. The other three watched from an enclosure across the way, poking their black plug-like noses through the chain link fence and whimpering quietly.

I remember the first two wolves we met – Tristan & Ayla, a father, former alpha male, and his daughter. They were skeptic of the new humans in their enclosure, so our visit was brief. Another senior wolf was suggested for a meet: Chetan, a whited out, 17-year old wolf. I remember walking in to his smaller enclosure and watching him slowly emerge from his wooden hut. His eyes had sunken into his skull a little due to his age, and he had a lovely little canine snaggle tooth draped out of the left side of his muzzle. I squatted down so he could sniff my face in the same way he would investigate other wolves. His nose was wet and he smelled earthly. I listened attentively when he exhaled quickly through his nose and at the sound his teeth made after he’d tongue flick and close his mouth. He spent the majority of the visit checking out my husband’s face and nestling his head underneath my husband’s armpit. It was an incredible experience. Chetan was the wolf that made me fall in love with all wolves. He was put to sleep on May 31, 2013, after he suffered a hip dislocation that his old, tired body lacked the necessary muscle to recover from. He had just celebrated his 18th birthday.

Waking up at 6:15am on a Saturday morning to drive 2 hours for his memorial was an honor that I was happy to be invited to. We had always been fortunate to have good comfortable weather anytime we’d visited the park this year. We didn’t bring rain gear or jackets or any extra clothes. As we pulled off the highway exit, we noticed storm clouds in the distance. We might get rained on, but it didn’t matter. We were celebrating his life.

Birds were chirping and singing, but the park was quiet. The humans were quiet. The wolves, coyotes and foxes were quiet. Amanda, Chetan’s human best friend, walked to the front of the main pack’s enclosure with a small, rectangular wooden box held in both hands.

“This is my puppy,” she said, gazing down at the tiny vessel that held the remains of a once 100-lb. white, fluffy, beautiful wolf. “He was my first puppy.”

She told stories of being new to the park and new to raising wolf pups. Her stories of his puphood brought smiles to many faces. And when she got choked up, so did everyone else. She threw a handful of his ashes into the main enclosure where he lived for a decade and rose and fell in rank and then produced a litter of puppies with the alpha female.

We walked to the enclosure he had spent his living month, the last place I had visited with him. It was the smallest enclosure he had lived in, but it was a great place for his comfort and safety. There were no large holes dug into the ground, it was shaded by three tall evergreen trees and a wooden hut with some blanket “doors” to provide a good hideaway from the sun and heat.

It was a lonely place to look at without him there; he had been up and very active when I last visited in late May. He seemed good. But everyday, at his age, was a gift, and that gift was given from the great care that the park’s staff and volunteers provide daily to all of their animals. Chetan’s life was a gift.

It was not a surprise when the raindrops started falling when we all stopped in front of his last home. It was not a surprise when those drops started to fall faster and faster until they were almost deafening. It was difficult to hear everyone’s stories. The rain made it easier to hide tears. I’m sure some people were grateful.

The last destination on our rainy memorial march was the bison pasture where several of Chetan’s relatives and other Wolf Park inhabitants found their final resting place. My husband bravely stepped up to say a few words and place Chetan’s ashes in the tall grass. In his usual charming way, he made a few people laugh with his story. When he asked me if I wanted to speak I declined even though Chetan had been my sponsor wolf. I made a promise to myself a few years ago that I would never touch a dead thing that I loved ever again. The feel of waxy, embalmed skin or the coarseness of ashes was not how I wanted to remember that thing I loved. Because, really, those things were just things now, not a person or an animal. I wanted to remember Chetan’s thick, lion-like mane of fur around his neck, and the way I had to bury the entirety of my fingers in it just to give him a good scratch. I wanted to remember his earthly smell and not the absence of smell in his ashes. I just wanted to remember him the way he was the week before he passed: active, curious, big and beautiful and fluffy.

He was a lot of things for a lot of people and a lot of other wolves. He was a son, a mate, a father, a grandfather. He was an ambassador for his kind and a gentlemanly wolf if there was one. A lot of people and wolves howled the day we scattered Chetan’s ashes and the earth wept as it took back its friend. And as I visited with one of his sons afterwards, the rain let up and the smiles returned, and I dug my fingers through Wo’s fur to give him good shoulder and spine scratches like I used to do with his dad.

25/365This picture of my husband has become a hilarious joke. It’s been placed on mugs, notepads, magnets…View Post

25/365

This picture of my husband has become a hilarious joke. It’s been placed on mugs, notepads, magnets…

View Post

24/365Since little boy’s got the winter blues, we went on an outing to the mechanic to get the oil…View Post

24/365

Since little boy’s got the winter blues, we went on an outing to the mechanic to get the oil…

View Post

23/365Wicket has seemed a little down lately, so I decided to finish a scrap blanket that’s been ignored…View Post

23/365

Wicket has seemed a little down lately, so I decided to finish a scrap blanket that’s been ignored…

View Post

Super soft wool/acrylic blend cowl. Approximately 1’ x 10”, machine washable and unisex.
Made from 100% Peruvian wool in an emerald green. Approximately 2’ long and 9” wide, can be worn multiple ways, for women or men.