Saturday, July 28, 2007

shut my mouth

I leave for Illinois in a handful of hours, escorting my eldest niece to her softball tournament. It will be her first time on an airplane, so she's a bit nervous about that. I hate airports and airplanes, sure, but I've explained to her it's more about my misanthropic leanings than about the risk of sudden death. No, what I'm nervous about is the pending social interactions I'll be having with her softball crowd. I have been thoroughly debriefed on the topics I'm strictly forbidden from talking about on the trip. These include:
  1. sex - with or without a partner, of course, and this includes any body parts used in the having of sex...
  2. drugs - even prescription medications...
  3. alcohol - although I am apparently expected to consume some with the coaches. While I imagined top shelf margaritas in some sort of small town hick bar, sounds like it's more likely to be beer consumed in a parking lot tailgate party style. Trouble is, those who know me realize "but Anti Jen doesn't drink beer" (I know, there is something I don't drink...) and then I wonder if they even sell hard cider (what I call "girl beer") in Illinois? People of the Internets, I fear I will soon be drinking wine coolers. The very thought of it makes my head hurt. Unless that's from the ciders I drank last night, of course...
  4. religion - especially no drawing of parallels between the new pope and satan
  5. politics - liberal or conservative
  6. any member of our shared family - this includes any cute childhood stories, particularly those which involve nudity or nicknames.
  7. any member of my niece's social circle - as if I keep track of who's who. My brain is too full of trivial things to actually associate the stories with the people. This, I know, is actually worse as I am constantly asking things such as, "Is this the one we like or don't like?" or "Is this the one who got grounded for drinking or the one who is cheating on her boyfriend?"
  8. lice - particularly the fact that there are still lice controlling products being used in this household three months later. This, I recognize, is more likely a reflection of the level of OCD in the family rather than the actual risk of parasitic infection, but again, I already feel itchy...
  9. ants - my suggested code word for lice
  10. incest - as in I believe I may be sharing a bed with my niece and her imaginary "ants"... Now, as you may all recall from my family's Christmas letter, my brother Kevin and I firmly assert that relatives who are old enough to have pubic hair are too old to be sharing beds, even if their sister is graduating from vet school. This constitutes "incest." Besides, I remember from days past that Zoe is even a brute in her sleep - tossing, turning, kicking, flailing strong arms and sharp fingernails. Still, I believe the poor girl will be more scarred by sharing a bed with me as I know I snore and I'm told (by my traumatized brother) that I'm also quite gassy in my sleep...

I have not yet been strictly forbidden from discussing the following standbys, but I suspect they will be added to the list before our plane touches down:

  1. bodily fluids
  2. bodily functions
  3. body odor
  4. body hair
  5. kryptonite (as in softball, as in last night I used the phrase "struck her out at third base" to attempt to translate a tale of seal politics I was telling into terms she would understand...)

On the other hand, I did win quite a verbal victory yesterday when I got my niece to admit she actually is a jock (she's been in denial). But I think she was just conceding to shut me up as I was apparently being quite "sassy" (which, Kevin tells me, because of our age difference would actually better be described as "crotchety").

Anyway, I should polish off my packing, I guess. Not sure I'll have access to the Internets in Illinois, so it may be a while, but what else is new?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

surprise. more seals.

Okay, so I'm sure you're getting sick of my seal posts, especially as they've been relatively depressing. This one, I'm sorry to say, is not much different. But since I rearranged my seal shifts to accommodate my upcoming trip to Normal, Illinois and accidentally ended up with 4 days in a row, all I've really had going on this week has been seals. I had six animals to show for it, two of the them sloppy seconds from Tuesday night, and a couple of critters left on the beaches. Still, it took me a while to post about them as I've spent the last two days reading the final Harry Potter book (I know, dork), about which I will say nothing, in case you actually care and are still reading yourself...

So starting with the sloppy seconds, SwanSong was impressive, even intimidating in size, (130 kg) but he turned out to be one of the sweetest and most polite sea lions I've met in a while. He'd been seizing on the beach in Pismo Tuesday night. I had the pleasure of giving him an injection Wednesday morning. I'd fretted about it the night before (hearing he'd required four boarders for his first injection), but I found him rather loopy and relatively approachable. The real challenge was boxing and lifting him as we had to ship him in a metal carrier which weighed at least another 100 pounds. Thank goodness for once I had all of three men on my schedule. As much as I'm fond of saying it takes a man to catch a man, it definitely takes a man to ship a man...

Hummus must've come off the drive on beach. This I know because the State Parks girl has been doing a Greek appetizer theme all summer. Hummus was allegedly too difficult to tube feed, so it was lucky for me that he was hungry enough by morning to eat his fish offer instead. Also, he was apparently still quite thirsty as all he wanted to do was drink his pool water. Again, much as I usually resent my sloppy seconds, I'm glad to have had them as they are still in treatment (unlike most of my own animals).

So before we had a chance to ship off the big boy and the thirsty one, we got a call about an animal on Morro Rock. Other than the customary running of the poison oak gauntlet (resulting in the itching I have on my arms, thank you short sleeves), this was the easiest Morro Rock rescue ever. Our little guy, SeaChili, was very close to the start of the trail and was tiny (14 kg) so he was exceedingly easy to carry out. One of my rescue crew stayed up on the bluff and snapped these pictures of my approach.

Followed by the moment of capture. Don't you love how my stealthy team comes out from hiding? You can barely see them in the first shot (and SeaChili couldn't really see them at all). We look so professional. I'm proud. In truth, SeaChili saw me coming the whole time but simply felt too miserable to run away.

It became obvious why SeaChili was such easy prey when we examined his swollen hind end at the site. I regret not making a better case for Butorphanol as I cringe when I look back at the pictures... He ended up dying by Friday, most likely from septicemia, they say. They're thinking all that swelling was from a perforated organ, not a broken limb. Still, how uncomfortable.

Wednesday night, instead of attending the staff meeting, I convinced a couple of volunteers to swing by the drive on beach to pick up Butterball. Butterball was a harbor seal yearling - a very unusual stranding as we usually only see the dependent pups - who'd been used as a chew toy for a shark. You can see here the slice down her nose, but you can't see the majority of the wounds on her body. We flushed them all clean and gave her antibiotics and something for the pain. We were delighted to see she'd made it through to the morning. Unfortunately, the vets determined Thursday that the shark had done too much internal damage to be repaired. Sadly, it wasn't the most dramatic wounds that were deadly. Instead, the more subtle wounds were incurred while being shaken (not stirred) and these resulted in the perforated organs.

Just after we shipped Butterball early Thursday morning, I sent another volunteer down to the drive on beach for Sadjaw. This was the worst broken jaw I've seen yet. This picture doesn't successfully mask the damage, but it's a lot less gruesome than the ones I sent to Sausalito to convince them to euthanize her mid transport (in Santa Cruz). Like Workout, this gal's injury was likely caused by a seal bomb. In this case you could still see a flash burn on her neck.

I thought I'd have nightmares about Sadjaw, but apparently my cats were more on my mind. That's cuz OC spent Thursday in the hospital (again with the chronic constipation - triggered, I can only presume, from my 32 hours spent in Santa Cruz?) only to return there first thing Friday morning (to repair the laceration on his tongue he'd suffered while waking up from anesthesia...). He's fine now. In fact, he spent the day reading Harry Potter with me. He's always quite lovable after his hospitalizations, come to think of it. I'd like to believe it's gratitude, but it's more likely self preservation, as with each incident I'm increasingly urged by my sister (who is apparently no longer his medical benefactor) to euthanize him. He's openly bitter that he's been restricted from dry food (his favorite) and I'm sorry to report that Fancy Feast, like blackbirds, seems to inspire his feline flatulence.

So adding injury to injury, Propeller here came off the drive on beach Friday morning. We assume it was a boat that tore the hole in his shoulder. Lucky for him his wound was fresh and he had full mobility in his all important front flippers. Even so, vet staff was talking euthanasia, but in this case my photos were sent in the seal's defense. Propeller was so full of life, in fact, that he very nearly disfigured me in an unfortunate cross boarding mishap. My inexperienced boarders lost sight of their two goals - protect the one without a board (that would be me) and keep your eyes on the bitey end. We pretty much simultaneously realized the situation had gotten out of hand. They were yelling "stop" while I was just yelling. I left my needle in the animal and as I retreated he grabbed my bottle of betadine, bit a hole in it (shaking it for full effect) and demonstrated what he'd like to do to my face. We decided to give him his last injection an hour later (and with a different cross boarder). Happily, Propeller was accepted into treatment, though he does face a serious risk of infection.

Before I had a chance to deliver Propeller to the site, I came across Lexi. I found her accidentally, on the way to check an inaccessible, entangled girl, who wasn't (I learned later) there anyway. Like many of my seal rescuing pals, I cannot drive past a beach without scanning for anomalies. In this case, I knew the rock in the tideline was not really a rock, as it hadn't been there the day before. Sadly, I found it was a seizing, totally unresponsive sea lion. She'd been there a while, I'd guessed, as the sea gulls had already pecked one of her eyes. I called for help, which soon arrived. Against my better judgment, my help convinced me that maybe, just maybe, my two wheel drive truck could make it through the soft sand and out to the seal (saving us the hike across the beach). I wasn't at all surprised to see my truck stranded mere seconds later. Miraculously, with the help of brawny beachgoers, we got my truck unstuck and we even made it back through the same stretch of sand on the return pass. Still, it was a foolish thing to do, with two seals in boxes already. It won't happen again. So as you may have surmised from my not so subtle note of foreboding, Lexi is also no longer with us.

On Saturday, the last of my four day run, I got a call on the one I'd been looking for when I'd found Lexi. We've been calling her (not so creatively) "entangled girl." She was on an inaccessible dock - no stairs down, no ladder up, always covered with sea lions - but after seeing this photo (which I only got by sticking my head through a fence from the pier above) we started thinking we might make an attempt by boat. We even had our most skilled staff person in town (teaching, of all things, a class on dock rescue). Once we had our plan in place, however, our entangled girl went missing in action.

Saturday night my team also whiffed on a skinny yearling out on the jetty at Morro Rock. I feel guilty as I wasn't there (I went out to dinner in SLO, hoping to be nearer the entangled girl in case we got the call to action) but I've definitely whiffed on the jetty myself, so there's no guarantee I could have done any better. I went out and watched a glorious sunset there (hoping he'd haul back out), enjoying the company of a handful of hungry otters, each one looking like it might be my sea lion. After sticking my shoe in an errant puddle (my penance, I guess, for not being there earlier) I worked my way back out across the rocks, defeated by the anti-climatic ending to my busy week.

And soon I'm off to Normal. I know there's a pun in there somewhere, but I'm too tired to come up with it. Not sure if I'll have computer access there, but if I do at least I will be forced to post about something other than seals...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

3 cuties and their ugly stepsister

This morning I had the pleasure of shipping off yesterday's yearlings. I usually don't enjoy the leftovers (I call them sloppy seconds) as it's all of the scrubbing with none of the glory, but today the seals were too adorable to resent. Hut here was taken into custody Saturday afternoon for being skinny and hanging around the Harbor Hut restaurant in my neighborhood. It's not such a bad place for a sea lion, really, but they tend to attract a crowd. And it isn't the easiest place to rescue (all rocks and they see you coming) so if Hut got himself caught that's definitely his own fault.

Cabo San Luis, on the other hand, at least had this lovely hole in his neck to justify his captivity. He came in from Avila Beach and I'm pretty sure he's the one we got a call on (but couldn't find) late Friday night. The hole doesn't look so bad - it's most likely just a popped abscess - but I can't imagine it feels all that great. He was noticeably grumpier and more lethargic than his neighbor. Still, he was well behaved when it came time to leave. He boxed himself up quite politely.

We thought perhaps we'd gotten off easy - an uneventful transport, a couple of dirty pens, an excuse to go out to breakfast - but alas, the skeleton Sunday crew had some glory coming its way after all. Our first rescue was in our least favorite location (a place called the Sandspit) and, in fact, it wasn't even really on the Sandspit. Our seal was between the Sandspit and our second least favorite location, the aptly named Hazard Canyon. Though it only took 20 minutes to hike out to her, it took more than an hour to carry her out. And of course she couldn't be a dainty little yearling. Feo was 59 kg of full grown adult female.

I considered sparing you any photographic evidence of Feo, but then I found this deceptively tame shot. It fails to adequately capture the depth and the horror of her broken maxilla. You can tell her features are askew, sure, but you can't really tell why. And if you fooled yourself just a little, you could almost come to believe that the red tint on her fur was a trick of the setting sun. You wouldn't have to know that she was still all bloody from her struggle against my net. In particular, what you can't see here is that there's a perfect little (presumably man made) hole in the center of all that mess.

Much as I love to pass off the throwing of the net, I had to catch this girl on my own. I was first on the scene and my cohorts were not willing to bring down the carrier unless I had something to put in it. Perhaps even more impressive than the fact that I caught and carried her, is the fact that I was able to weigh her all by myself. It was anything but graceful, getting all 79 kg of seal and carrier on and off the scale twice (the first time I got an error message), but I was determined to succeed. I had sent the rest of the crew on another rescue and it just didn't seem fair to leave Feo boxed up any longer than necessary. Unfortunately, I still had to wait for them to return before I could administer her sorely needed pain meds. At least I've got a chance to make it up to her, as my incredibly sweet hubby has agreed to go back out there with me to give her a midnight dose. There's likely precious little that vet staff can do for her tomorrow. The least we can do is keep her free of pain.

Though I could've enjoyed having help off loading Feo, I was glad the rest of the crew went and rescued Surely here. It was nice to have a patient who wasn't in any way disturbing. In fact, Surely was rather acrobatic and entertaining. Interestingly, Surely had been loitering in the same neighborhood as Hut and was equally unacceptably approachable. I like that this shot shows his ribs and hip bones, because at 18 kg, we probly should have considered relocating him. But as I've said before, I firmly believe if you can catch them, you can keep them.

Anyway, I guess I'm off to dope up Feo one last time. No seals for me tomorrow. Instead I'm off to Santa Cruz for a visit with the nieces...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

a few more days, a few more seals

So the past few days brought a few more seals and a little more sunburn. It all started Wednesday afternoon with a trip to the nudie beach. Although I made a point of grabbing my sunglasses before I left, it turns out I didn't need them. The helpful nudists had put on pants before we got there. Our animal was an entangled sea lion, sitting in the tideline, so as the coward who likes to stay dry, I mostly just watched. Even on the steep hike back out, I let the boys do the heavy lifting. Getting myself up the hill was unfortunately heavy lifting enough.

Our patient, which the not-naked nudists named Untied, was 36 kg. Since his twine neck tie was pretty simple, vet staff allowed us to cut it off on site. Though I'm a chicken when it comes to throwing the net, I was first to volunteer to take him down. Honestly, it wasn't much of a feat (we got to get him stoned first and someone else helped hold down his front flippers), but it seemed pretty exciting at the time. I found the biggest, wettest towel, and got a decent wrap around his head but I felt very alone in the second just before jumping on him.

Untied looks pretty much the same in his "after" pictures. I like this one as you can see (sort of) that he's essentially as tall as I am. The camera couldn't capture it, so you'll just have to believe me that he was feeling notably more chipper the next morning. He willingly ate his fish offer (having been too stoned the night before) and then rolled around scratching at his healing neck and the presumably itchy tar patches on his shoulder and hip. They'll put him in one of the salt water pools in Sausalito, no doubt, and he'll be out again in no time.

Thursday night, as Untied was probly first arriving in Sausalito, I picked up Fiesty, a 16 kg yearling, from a friend who lives closest to the drive on beach. We were both off schedule, but the day's official rescue crew was up north relocating another little yearling they'd just caught (which was actually Fiesty's same size). I didn't see their animal, so I can't say for sure, but I feel if you can catch a sea lion you can keep it. So I successfully made the case that we should keep Fiesty, if only for a couple weeks of free fish. Half the size of Untied, he lived up to his name and was a handful to restrain. Still, I was glad to have him. He was good practice for my tubing partner and he got us up bright and early for our next rescue.

Friday, when we should have been feeding Fiesty, we had the good fortunate of catching up with Maren. We'd first tried for this 30 kg juvenile on Wednesday, on the way back in with Untied. We spent some time chasing her up and down the beach in Avila, but she was crafty and stayed just far enough off shore to mock us. We got another call on her at sunset on Thursday (right after I got back into town with Fiesty) but the folks I sent couldn't find her. It turns out yet another one of our volunteers stumbled across her independently on Thursday night and went looking for her first thing Friday. Obviously she was still there as now she's here. I had to use this artsy shot of her as all her photos are creepy due to her milky eye discharge. I'm used to gummy and crusty, but gummy and wet is just gross. I'm not as optimistic for Maren as I am for Untied and Fiesty, but at least she's got some sort of a chance now.

Friday afternoon I chose a nap over a rescue and missed helping out with a big boy on the drive on beach. They're always magnificent, those adult male sea lions, but again I would have definitely been more spectator than participant so I'm happy with my choice. He was seizing, so I'm concerned about today's crew (as seizing seals often come in clusters) but not enough to give up my day off. Erik's home and though he's mostly doing his thing (yard work) and I'm mostly doing mine (napping and studying for the LSAT), it still feels like quality time.

Besides, I'm on again tomorrow...

Monday, July 09, 2007

prolapsed, purulent, and just plain broken

I've got seriously mixed feelings about my busy seal weekend. I got a lot of sun and saw a lot of action, but my patients were nearly all depressing. We handled an unusual string of prolapses - generally caused by cancer, nearly always ending in euthanasia - interspersed with a handful of other graphic conditions. In a lot of ways, such a weekend is more satisfying, as these animals unquestionably needed my help. But it's hard to escape the lingering twinge of despair at their suffering.

On Saturday we shipped Attard, a leftover from Friday's shift and the first of our prolapse girls. Attard was apparently a pretty exciting rescue as she threw the net off her head with her teeth once or twice. (Usually it's the boys that figure that trick out.) Anyway, she was still a little scary in the morning, but she mellowed out some after her pain meds. In fact, she then refused to be boxed up, putting our early morning transport behind schedule. My driver left weeping as she knew the outcome for this animal was pretty much predetermined. Still, having helplessly watched the prolapse grow on the one we've been calling "Prolapse Girl", I think Attard could be considered lucky.

After shipping Attard, we were called down to the drive on beach to rescue this little yearling we named Hole-In-One. He wasn't our original intended victim; he just happened to strand next to the seal that was first called in, another prolapse girl. She ended up being too alert to catch at the same time so it was lucky we had a spare to make our trip worthwhile. Hole-In-One was aptly named for the giant hole in between his shoulder blades which we're guessing used to be an abscess. Since he had full mobility and a decent body weight, we're hoping for a swift recovery.

Meanwhile, we got a call that a sea lion was drawing a crowd near Morro Rock. My transport drivers were just returning and one of my two seal rescuing neighbors agreed to go down and help out with the netting. I missed that rescue, but it sounds like another good one. Everyone came back wet and smiling. At 67 kg, Eisenburg was a worthy prize. Eisenburg's condition was more subtle than the others (if we weren't so certain of her gender we might have thought her prolapse was her package...) but the result was the same. I've actually learned she died on her own before they even had a chance to euthanize.

While we were preparing for a second transport (as we didn't have enough drugs to keep Eisenburg out of pain overnight), we got the call we'd been waiting for since June 23rd. Not everyone agrees, but I believe our next sea lion, Mamie, was our original "Prolapse Girl." She was the right size (55 kg) in the right area (Cayucos) and her prolapsed parts were certainly the most advanced. Her location was not ideal (we had to haul her up a cliff and across a field) but we had a lot of men around for the rescue, so mostly all I had to do was supervise. I was surprised (and saddened) when I saw how easy it was to catch her. She'd been so net savvy before and now her spunk was gone. We gave her something for the pain and shipped her off immediately.

You might think Saturday was done after four animals, three rescues, and two transports. But then you would be wrong. At sunset it was back to Oceano for the prolapse girl we'd left behind that morning. She was still pretty skittish, but one of the State Parks plover monitors had noticed she did not fear his vehicle. He drove slowly up between her and the ocean, cutting off her egress while also concealing our net wielding volunteer. They named her Innovation, after this clever rescue technique (which we may likely employ again). I was too far away to make it to the beach in time so I waited in the parking lot to bring her back to site. The same neighbor who had bailed me out earlier with Eisenburg returned to help me with the after hours off loading and treatment. I kind of wish we'd stayed to give her some fluids as she had super gummy eyes in the morning, but we'd already had a 15 hour seal day and she was still pretty active that night.

First thing Sunday morning we shipped off Innovation and didn't even have time to clean her pen before we got the call on Chile Chavez, who we believe has a broken shoulder. You can't see the lumpy bumpy swollen parts in this picture (you're welcome), but you can tell he's got all his weight on the other flipper. He was a pretty easy capture (not wanting to move at all) and his condition merited yet another immediate transport. Vet staff haven't yet confirmed that his shoulder is broken, but if it's true, it's likely another death sentence. So I'm rooting for gnarly abscess.

Speaking of gnarly abscesses, just as we shipped off Chile Chavez, we got a call on this little yearling we named Tenera. You can see in this photo the hole in his side where his abscess used to be. It started out looking like a tumor on his shoulder and ended up looking like a saggy breast. After all the helplessness of the patients we had before him, it was really satisfying to watch the thick pink discharge pour out of him as we hosed him down. Tenera got some antibiotics and pain meds and proceeded to spend the night. He wasn't exactly chipper the next morning, but he was cooperative and significantly less purulent. We shipped him off after breakfast (his and ours) and though there are still a couple hours of daylight left, it's starting to feel safe to say that's the end of my busy seal weekend.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

a slew of seals i got to see

You may have noticed I haven't posted a seal update in a while. The last two weeks were punctuated by a handful of very busy rescue days which I couldn't post about promptly as it was birthday season. Not only does it take a while to craft a birthday blog, I like to let them linger for posterity. Now that all that madness is over, I can catch you up on my adventures. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), enough time has passed that I've also learned the outcome of some of the animals.

So here thay are in somewhat chronological order:

Friday, June 22nd: This little yearling actually looked pretty good. At 20 kg, Perso here was in custody more for suspected domoic acid toxicity than malnutrition. A full four kilos more than most of his graduating class, his trouble was that he was a bit wobbly. While he looks like he's doing just fine in this photo, really he's just trying to hold it together. I only had the pleasure of feeding him and transporting him, as he was a left over from Thursday's crew. Even so, I was sad to learn that he died six days later; cause of death was pyothorax and pneumonia.

As soon as I got back from transporting Perso (a three hour round trip to Taco Bell in King City), I left again with an otter they named Jasper. I have no photos, though, as I didn't bring my camera on transport and, besides, I'm sick of taking pictures of dying otters. She had a better chance than most - female, weaned, more alert than some - and she made it to the Aquarium alive. She even enjoyed an evening feeding but died before morning. Her death was blamed on one of the top two parasites those otters get. I can't quite place the name, but at least it's not toxoplasmosis, the one blamed on feral cats and opossums.

Company, on the other hand, was all mine. Another skinny sea lion yearling, he turned out to be woefully full of pus. The call for him came in on my way home from the 2nd transport (the otter). I was already up north, so I swung by and caught him on my way back home. My friend who netted him reports that he had a stick in his neck, but the source of his pus had to be more than just a stick. We tried to tube feed him which was tough enough as his neck was twice its normal size. When that purulent discharge came up from his stomach tube, we squealed a little from surprise and had to discontinue our attempts to hydrate him. Because we couldn't tube him, we arranged to ship him very early Saturday the 23rd. Miraculously, he's doing just fun. All hail antibiotics.

Saturday, June 23rd, and Sunday the 24th were spent chasing the gal we've begun to call Prolapse Girl out on Morro Rock. She chose the least accessible rock possible (surrounded by open ocean, just next to the surf line up) and the tides were working against us. She let us get close, (the tease) but she bailed at the first swing of the net. We kept hiking out (through poison oak) at various tides to check on her but to no avail. She loved her rock and if she couldn't be on it, she was in the water. I did see her once, from my car. It seemed she had been keeping an eye on me and had followed me back to the shallows just to say hello. I stuck around until sunset hoping she'd haul out on sand after the crowds left, but no such luck. Other crews made attempts on her Monday and Tuesday (both on bad docks) but she was wise to the ways of the net. No sign of her again until the following Sunday, July 1st, when we snapped this photo. I like this shot as it conceals her condition and preserves her proud spirit. I have others, with the seagulls lining up to snack on her increasingly protruding uterus, but I couldn't bear to post them. We failed in our rescue, but no matter what, hers is not going to be a good outcome. Prolapses have been known to bleed out in the net and they are generally caused by cancer, so the best she can hope for is the pink juice. We keep thinking it's a blessing we haven't caught her, but still, I'd like to end her pain.

To add insult to injury, Sunday June 23rd we also missed out on a yearling we were calling Smuggler down in Smuggler's Cove. We didn't even know there was a trail down to Smuggler's Cove until one among us pointed out there was a bit of a break between the neck high poison oak. He'd been down there before (and was unwilling to go again) and said the trail ended with a pretty steep 20 foot drop. Having already gotten poison oak on Morro Rock, a few of us figured what the heck. We were at least relieved to see our animal looked smaller on shore than from the cliff (usually it's the other way around) but the trail head was far from the seal and he beat us to the ocean. Empty handed again, we ended our weekend with aloe vera and calamine lotion.

Wednesday, June 27th, we finally had a keeper. Little Party Animal here came unexpectedly after sunset. Erik had to be our designated rescue driver since I took advantage of the fact I wasn't on schedule and had a couple margaritas. My neighbor was on call, but she had rolled the dice and enjoyed a glass of wine. Since I had jinxed her by inquiring about her day before sunset, and because I had the closest set of equipment, I had to go on the rescue. It was a good call to recruit me as we barely made it to the beach in time. We were basically rescuing a shadow. Our caller it seems was in a festive mood as well. Erik gave her a designated ride home before returning to pick up the rescue crew.

Party Animal was shipped off Thursday morning, June 28th. My friend who dealt with that day caught two animals of her own (see below) and worked straight through till midnight (watching another otter die). At least they didn't make her transport it at such a late hour. Something about the runny black death poop and the agonal breathing, I guess, helped them to decide to save the fuel.

Friday morning, June 29th, I got to feed and ship the Thursday rescues. D'avignon was a small yearling from Avila who came in with a collapsed eye. At least you can't tell from this picture that the eye is ruptured. Guess I shouldn't have told you. Anyway, it turns out the eye wasn't the worst of his problems as he later died (on Sunday, July 1st) of malnutrion.

The other Thursday rescue was Kinney. Again, it was after sunset when my friend and her crew of helpful bystanders helped to heave his 64 kg body straight up a cliff (still in the net) just shy of Morro Rock. Kinney, it seems, was also doomed, as he died on Monday, July 2nd, from a rib fracture, pyothorax, and peritonitis. He was so polite and well behaved. Here he is getting his subcutaneous fluids and he didn't even need a fence. The boys are always so much nicer than the girls. I'm really sad to see him go.

We got one fresh rescue of our own on Friday, the 29th. San Miguel came in from the San Simeon area and he wouldn't let me do a thing with him. At 34 kg, we could have considered tube feeding him but he was vocal and bitey and we don't generally do tubings down here for animals above 30 kgs. We tried to give him subcutaneous fluids but he kept pulling the needle. We offered fish but he thought they were gross and dead and freezer burnt. Little did I know he'd spend two nights. He was so dehydrated he smacked his lips around like a stoner with cotton mouth. On the second night vet staff convinced us to fill up our (hard to clean) pool so at least he got some external hydration. Rumor has it he still isn't eating dead fish but up in Sausalito they've got the skills to tube feed him so at least he's no longer hungry.

Before we arranged to transport San Miguel (which was later canceled), we got a call on Call Box. Same sort of area, just south of San Simeon State Beach. Another skinny yearling, though I was surprised to learn he weighed 16.2 kg. We let a new girl throw the net (he looked like a good trainer model). I should have photographed the rescue but for whatever reason I didn't. Like Kinney, Call Box was also a well behaved patient, although we did have to discontinue his first tube feeding when we realized his stomach was full of hose water he'd lapped up upon admission.

While bringing Call Box in, a different crew picked up Mr. Hand in the southern most part of our range, Oso Flaco. Mr. Hand is actually a girl and has domoic acid toxicity written all over her. In fact, this photo captures perfectly two of the biggest giveaways - the thick brown slobber and what we call "seizy eyes." DA animals, we've noticed, will often open their eyes wide enough to expose the white strip of flesh that holds them in. This almost always precedes a seizure. We doped up Mr. Hand and he was still loopy. Like Call Box, Mr. Hand was another new girl's first netting. Hers was much more challenging, I hear, as Mr. Hand was on the run and the wind kept inverting her net.

While treating these guys, it was back up to San Simeon for Bethke. Though Bethke weighed only 12.6 kg, it turns out she is a little boy. You can see from her dark runny feces that she's not having the best of times inside. Still, she tubed pretty easily (except once when she was a little bitey) and was very interested in her neighbor, San Miguel.

Sunday, June 30th, we finally shipped off our rag tag full house. Later in the day we brought in Falafel, another patient from the drive on beach. Like Mr. Hand and Perso, we got to give him some Lorazepam and this is his best attempt at holding things together. At only 23 kg, he was a struggle to restrain for his tube feeding. And although he was stoned, he still pulled his sub q needle. Like D'Avignon, he has a suspect eye but reportedly the rescuers saw it open and it's okay.

Rumor has it another animal came in on Monday and at least one more attempt was made on Prolapse Girl, too. Given that today is the Fourth of July, we are sure to get some action. I'm not actually on the schedule, though, (and have even unloaded my rescue truck) as the fourth is Erik's absolute favorite holiday. We're having another couple over for a barbecue and we'll go to Cayucos for the fireworks. Still much to cook and a little to clean so I guess I'm off for now.