emergency


I knew something was up with the way Pumpkin, Patchy and Ranger were behaving inside while Susan and I were having breakfast, but I looked out the north windows on the wrong side of the house initially, finding little out of the ordinary. Then, after Jiggy came back in and Ranger paid him waaaaay too much attention, I figured he’d been messing with that rival cat a couple doors down.

After eating, fooled into thinking all was good, I went down the south side of the house and that’s when I found the injured infant opossum laying on the walkway. There wasn’t a lot of blood, but there was a distinct wound on its left side near its front leg. It was breathing regularly, but very lethargic and when I put it in a shoebox it barely even reacted to being picked up. Susan thought a hawk might’ve been involved, but my guess is it was Jig who’d found a new plaything. Dangit.

I didn’t bother getting additional pictures beyond this unflattering one because of its rather dire condition, and instead got going as quickly as I could to the California Wildlife Center about 40 miles away off of Los Virgenes Road in the Santa Monica Mountains between Malibu and Calabasas. Putting 80 miles on my odometer and taking a couple hours off my day for a baby marsupial who may not survive… well, that’s just how I roll.

I’m relieved to report that the little critter made the trip fine and was quickly installed in an incubator to warm it up before an examination is made to determine the extent of its injuries or lack thereof. Hopefully the latter. I’ll probably call and check in a day or so with fingers crossed.

 UPDATE (4.15): I called the CWC today with some trepidation to check on the opossum and I’m sorry to report that it died. They incubated it to bring its body temperature up, gave it IV fluids and administered some Pedialyte, but apparently the internal injuries were just too severe and it passed yesterday.

 

Literally. Patches came trotting into the study while I was at the computer, jumped up next to her food bowl behind me and plopped the thing next to it, presumably to have a kibble appetizer before her main course. Except the still-very-much-alive and relatively small (perhaps young) rat (or the largest freakin’ mouse I’ve ever seen; about 11-12 inches long, tail included) didn’t cooperate and tried to get away. This forced Patches to scramble and grab it up and exit, which is when I saw it in her jaws. Suddenly the previous commotion at the food bowl I’d not paid attention to made sense and up I got to chase Patches into the backyard so she wouldn’t drop it in the house.

She obliged, running out the back door, up on the patio and behind the barbeque grill, which when I slammed it startled her into abandoning her catch. The rat in the meantime hobbled on an injured rear foot/leg under the patio table where I was able to catch it up in a shoebox and install it in Buster’s old reptiquarium, where it can hopefully de-stress while I figure out if I should take it to an animal rescue place of if its injury is minor enough to let it heal and release it.

I’ve observed it drinking some water and limping around, so I’m cautiously optimistic that there aren’t any internal injuries.

On a side note, this critter and I might very well be related, so to speak. If not one of the backyard litter I assisted (after inadvertently destroying their den) back in 2007, then maybe it’s one of their offspring.

UPDATED (11.30): My optimism came too early. I found the rat dead this morning. Sigh.

 

Coming home from a 70-mile bike ride Saturday afternoon  I saw the smoke and my heart leapt into my throat as it seemed  pretty much aligned with where our house is located on the other side of the ridge rising up between my location heading west on Sunset Boulevard approaching Benton Way and our street. What I couldn’t be sure of is if the flames generating the plume were on the east side of Silver Lake Boulevard or beyond it to the west.

A hipster in front of me in the bike lane reflexively and entirely non-ironically yelled out “Cool!” when he saw the smoke and I passed him suggesting with a snarl that “cool” was about the worst way to react to anything burning down unless you’re an arsonist or an asshole. “And I’m guessing you’re not an arsonist,” I yelled before cranking hard past him.

I didn’t wait around for him to tell me to fuck off as traffic was clear giving me the opportunity to get across the westbound lanes and in the center of the street between the double yellows to make my left turn. It was about then there when I saw the smoke was well beyond our house and street and I cruised home to find Susan up in the guest bedroom with her binoculars watching the firefighters on-scene battle the blaze. My relief was tempered by the sight of someone’s home being destroyed. And as I watched the firefighters on a neighboring roof battle the flames that seemed to surround them, I hoped no one was or would get hurt. Then the top of a tall pine nearby erupted in orange but quick action snuffed that fright out almost as quickly as it ignited.

I set up my camera on timelapse at 4:30 p.m., approximately 40 minutes after LAFD personnel reportedly arrived at the home that I later found out was located on Descanso Drive. As I understand it the fire was extinguished about 20 minutes into this timelapse. One firefighter sustained burns to his neck during the ordeal, but is expected to recover. None of the neighboring structures sustained any fire damage. The loss is valued at $1.5 million for the structure and $500,000 for the contents.

My respect and appreciation goes to the firefighters for tackling what proved to be a difficult assignment made even moreso by gusting winds and limited access afforded by the winding narrowness of Descanso and its rough and rugged condition. And my heart goes out to the property owner with condolences for what was lost and hopes for what can be rebuilt.