Review: Pet Care in 2020

It took some creativity to care for the pets and backyard birds during the pandemic shutdown. I was going through some photos the other day and it all came flooding back.

How were we going to feed Darwin?

In early March he was just beginning to awaken from the quasi-hibernation he experiences from late fall through the winter months. We use Timothy Hay in his bedding, but he also requires daily access to a reasonably fresh supply for his daily diet.

We aren’t talking small bags you might find at the pet store for a hamster cage. This 14-year old Sulcata is so large we can no longer pick him up to move him. He must be between 50-60 pounds by now, and he grazes on grasses all day long.

For most of last year we couldn’t access his typical supply source, a hay bale purchased at a feed store, and the only reasonable source was to have Timothy Hay shipped through on-line pet product supplier, Chewy. I wonder what the UPS driver thought when he delivered three 50-pound bales of compressed bale horse forage!

Organic pumpkin is an occasional treat.

In the summertime he enjoys sharing our watermelon, often with a side of garden succulents.

But did you know we had another tortoise?

We found Rocky, or he found us, 25 years ago. We found him in the garden and he has spent most of his life in a large glass aquarium. We’ve tried to let him have a little freedom from time to time, but he can escape so fast, and he has. We missed him for a few days until a neighbor found him in her vegetable garden.

His needs are simple, but he does have to eat! And his diet consists primarily of live meal worms. So once again, where do I get the meal worms? Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm to the rescue. We purchased live meal worms and had them delivered through the mail. Rocky was well fed!

The hummingbirds and wild birds were also a responsibility, and presented a few questions. The hummingbirds visit year-round. Especially in the evening it isn’t at all unusual to have twenty or more birds hovering at the multiple feeders. I typically need about three cups of sugar a day.

Did you try to buy sugar in 2020? It was in short supply and I needed quantity. I learned that if I bought 40 pounds at a time, again on-line delivery, I had a steady supply. Any smaller, however, wasn’t available. We also accessed our wild bird food through Chewy and other sources. A few times our home supply dwindled quite low before we found a source with enough to keep our flock happy.

And then there’s our precious Zena.

She has always struggled with separation anxiety, but she had us all! As a multi-generational household with EVERYONE home all day, every day, Zena was unaware of a raging pandemic, and just thrilled to have her humans close.

When this picture was taken most of us had piled into Aimee’s large car as we headed towards the beach. Our intention was to change the scenery and at least smell some salt air and see the ocean. After months of never being out of our sight, I’m not sure if we took Zena with us because we didn’t want to be away from her, or we thought she’d be anxious without us. She’s a good traveler.

But poor little doggy! She developed a severe problem with extremely high pressure in one eye, and we were advised that removing the eye would protect the vision, hopefully, in the other. She did well. You’ll thank me, however, for not including a visual diary of the experience.

The resulting trauma did exacerbate her anxiety, and she’s requiring quite a drug cocktail with her dinner. I didn’t know “doggy dementia” was a real thing, but if you’ve ever had your dog cry and pace ALL NIGHT, you’ll soon learn how sensitive they are.

Some of you must also have animal and pet stories. I’d be interested in hearing how you’ve relied on your pets, and how they’ve relied upon you!

Caring for our beloved friends was a wonderful distraction during heavy times. All they require is love and attention, and although none of our pets are certified therapy pets, as far as I’m concerned they truly are.

“I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs.” James Herriot