— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — I took Shota, my sensitive, gentle German Shepherd pup to Sun Valley, Idaho, for an examination by a specialist. He has had a limp for a couple of months now. Our local vet, examining him, had referred us to the Sun Valley vet. She said she could feel something in his shoulder but it needed an expert diagnosis with an advanced CAT scan machine and probable surgery. Speaking on a video call with wildlife vet Linda Bender about a program we were planning, I mentioned that I would be leaving the next day for Shota’s possible surgery. We continued talking and suddenly she blurted out, “He doesn’t want surgery.” A little confused because we had been...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Foffy the Mustang, Garrett the Farrier, and Bluebell the Displeased Bison Bluebell was not pleased. It is not good when Bluebell is not pleased. She is a massive, powerful, assertive matriarch with very large horns and a bit of an attitude. The horse-shoer pulled his truck up to the paddock where Foffy, our gorgeous blonde mustang girl was held in preparation for trimming her hooves. But the horse-shoer and his truck were interlopers--especially when the truck made noises as he prepared his tools. We led Foffy out and tied her to the fence as Bluebell came galloping over and put on a full displeased-bison display, grunting, tossing her massive head, pawing...

Humble Bumble the Grizzly Bear

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — I offered Teton a slice of fresh pineapple. He looked at it with disdain. Didn’t bother to even sniff it, just walked away. Stately. He is a mango and pear sort of bear. Humble Bumble, on the other hand, got that special look in his eye as he saw his favorite treat and gently laid his bulk down to thoroughly enjoy it. Juice dripped out of his jaws as he bit into the tender yellow flesh. Usually, everything he does is somewhat chaotic and messy. Humble Bumble's destroyed pie plate (and Major Bear's intact one) vs. Humble Bumble's pineapple plate | Earthfire But pineapple? Somehow he managed to control his ADHD tendencies and trim it right down to the...

Bramble the Bear

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — Ravenous bears… 21 September. The bears declared that they’re starving today. It is a few hours before the fall solstice and they are complaining loudly. Food! They will have to be fed first before anyone else now---and three times a day---or we will hear about it. Have you ever heard a bear roar in protest? It is not a pretty sound. Poor sweet things. They sound ferocious, and because of their size we take it very seriously. But really, they are feeling like desperate infants crying their need out to the world. The physiological pressures and urges are huge. If they don't get enough food, they won't make it through their winter hibernation. Here, they...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — 11 September 2018 It seems we keep getting them younger and younger. This time it is a baby squirrel, 2-3 days old, lying quietly in my hand, tiny, soft, still. He had to be in shock---he was found on the ground, dehydrated and cold. His mother and siblings were dead, most likely from a cat. A rough introduction to the world. He has gradually been accepting the eyedropper full of milk, tiny paws waving and grasping at the hard glass, instinctively trying to knead his mother’s belly to stimulate the flow of milk in a perfectly choreographed dance. What a poor substitute we can offer! Nutrition. Safety. Warmth. Cleaning. But not a loving mother’s...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — I learned something: Wolves are not convenient. Dogs are. So I finally decided to be practical, at least in this one instance. After having wolves, wolf-hybrids, and a malamute (nearest dog to wolf hybrids, who also didn’t listen and ran away every chance she got), I broke down and got a dog-dog, a German Shepherd. People had been telling me for years to get one, but I loved my wild ones. Then, partly for Jean, who was in need of an excellent canine assistant trainer, and partly because I wanted something that might listen and not run away at the first opportunity into a blizzard in the middle of the night and risk being shot (wolf hybrid). Or run away...

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