Goodbye August

9-8-22 – I’m not sure where August went. First it was my sister’s birthday, then a program on the 10th with Max, Smudge Hedgehog and Burt Parrot. The program went well but everything went downhill from there. Smudge started leaving her fruit untouched but would still come out for mealworms but that stopped on the 13th. I got her into the vets on the 15th because I had scheduled the chinchillas for an initial exam. So, I was able to bring her instead of them. Thank goodness I did or perhaps she would not have had a good last week. Seemed she caught a cold. I don’t believe from anyone because she was held with gloves and people only touched her spikes. I could have missed her slight behavioral changes before the 13th but she was always greeting me, so maybe not. She could have caught a chill when I started leaving the windows open at night for the fresh, cool air. It had been wicked hot for weeks and when we finally got a cool front, I was delighted. I took her outside on the 14th for sunshine and took photos. She seemed slow, wobbly but interested. Anyways, she first sneezed at the vets. Okay, we can give her fluids and antibiotics. She was a trouper. However, the vet noticed her heart was beating irregularly and surmised that she had heart disease and was missing teeth too. How could that be? She was only maybe 2.5 years old. I got Smudge in January of 2021 and was told she was “about a year old.” Hum, evidently that was wrong. Smudge’s cold got better but her heart seemed to be overworking. I thought she was taking a turn for the better when I caught her drinking water on the 19th. I guess not. On the 20th in the evening when I tried to medicate her, she refused. So, I held her and was talking to her asking why she didn’t want to take her medicine. She looked at me and took a breath. It was her last. I just stood there looking dumbfounded and kept calling her name. My head could not wrap around the fact that she was gone. Being the curious person that I am, I looked at her teeth and yes, many were missing or worn down. Smudge was an old hedgehog. Had I known she had heart disease from the beginning, perhaps, I would have prevented educating with her due to the stress and always have a warm pad for her to help with circulating. But darn if she didn’t move off that pad when I put it in that week. So, what the heck? Little prey animals mask their illnesses so not to look weak. I created a video of all my beloved animal ambassadors over the years and posted it on YouTube – Loved and Lost. It was sad and wonderful remembering all my little pals.

I got to meet a 1st cousin on the 22nd for the first time. However, she gave me Covid, and I came down with it on the 24th. I had to find coverage for me at the museum and had little interaction with the animals including Max. I was fearful one of them would get sick from me. I handled the cold part of it but the fatigue and muscle weakness wreaked havoc. However, since I had animals to care for, there was no lying around feeling sorry for myself. I continued to do my animal care as best as I could and took multiple breaks. I did catch up on my sleep which was a good thing! I lost my taste and smell 4 days into it, but it slowly came back a week later. As of this writing, I’m still coughing and have sinus issues but am negative. Heck, I was having those issues before Covid.

Let’s see. While I was out mowing the lawn on the 27th, I noticed my car in the garage leaking. Called for a tow that Monday and it went to the shop without me. Seems my power steering sprung a leak. It was probably a mouse! I hadn’t driven it since the 10th. I’ve been using mom’s car since it has less mileage. Well, that got fixed and I picked it up once I was out of quarantine.

On the 30th, we had a major rainstorm, and my house was hit by lightning. I don’t think it was a spike but more of an electrical flash. It sent the cable out which also works the phone line and three of my outlets went dead. Lucky, I flipped the breaker, and that took care of the dead outlets. It was a couple days for Spectrum to get to me to replace the fried DVR and Wifi router. My new phone/answering machine arrived on Friday but what I didn’t know was that the lightening killed the old phone, not just the power cord. I was listening to a message yesterday and it was all static. So, I’m thankful I didn’t send the new phone back when I purchased a new power cord. Though I now have an extra power cord! It also fried the power cord to LED lights in the kitchen. I know it could have been worse and for that I’m truly grateful. Imagine the cost of replacing Max’s meat freezers? Phew.

At times like this, I tend to forget that there have been good times, too.

I look back at some of my messages & photos to my sisters and friends. The 19th was a beautiful day when I sat on a bench at the nature preserve where I work and watched the bees pollinate. I watched a butterfly make it’s rounds to the plants and then stop for a drink of water in the bird bath. I remember thinking how lovely and wonderful nature is.

The morning of the 20th, I gave Lil Bun new flooring. Yep, I don’t get new flooring, but the rabbits do! This will make it much easier to clean up after them. I still need to do Poppy’s flooring which I will get to this weekend. It’s a bit time consuming with the cleaning the wood, cutting, and placing the vinyl squares and kneeling! I love the results. It will help preserve the wood base too. What you don’t know is this is my 2nd upgrade on their living quarters. Lil Bun would run and scatter poo, hay and litter outside his bars. So, I created a baseboard around the cage to keep in the mess. Poppy is not as messy. Lil Bun is a joy. Sometimes in the evening he runs circles in his cage. I usually put him on the porch to help him with his energy. I would put Poppy as well but he was neutered at the beginning of August and will still try to hump her. No, I’ll wait another month before I combine their cages into a larger one. Though I might have to get rid of the couch and rocker!

Max…last photos I took of him were on August 1st. On the 21st, I got a photo of him carrying around his purple puff ball like a baby and mewing. He then tried to hump it. OMG, that cat is so funny!

Good news, Ruby will sit on my shoulders and be okay if I don’t touch her much! Progress! The photo is from August 31st.

See, not all of August was a bust!

15% Discount

Our book printer, Lulu.com is having a 15% discount off their printed products. This is a perfect time to order our Max book titled I am MAX. When you reach their Bookstore search for either my name Bernadette Hoffman or the book title which will bring you to a list. You can’t miss us! Don’t forget to use the code EARTH15 at checkout. This ends April 22nd.

Yes, you can watch our videos on YouTube and see stories & photos on Max’s website at Max Canada Lynx but should anything happen to me, the websites disappear. This is a beautiful book with over 400 photos and tons of information about Max’s life.

I am max cover

2022

I have been hesitating to give you an update in the life and times of Max and Bernie as it’s been a roller coaster of a ride since the new year. I was excited to start this year because I felt it had to be better than 2021. Smudge Hedgehog went into torpor on the 1st. What this means is that she got cold and stopped eating and drinking. This is not serious unless it lasts for more than one day. When torpor happens, I usually put the hog in the tub which forces them to wake up and run around because it’s a new and strange environment. It helps to get their blood circulating. This time, Skipper, jumped in the tub with Smudge. He loves all the animals not realizing if they are friend or foe. Smudge was not at all bothered. After warming up with exercise, I put her back in the cage and she began eating. Going a day without food and water is okay but I don’t want her to go more than that.

IMG_2510(Copy)Trouble began when mom, who lives with me, fell at 1am on Thursday, Jan. 13. Since I’m at the other end of the house, I never heard her call for help. She got herself up and to bed but by 3am she was in a lot of pain. This time I heard her calling me. I got her to the bathroom and I got dressed to take her to the hospital but then she couldn’t walk at all. I called for the ambulance. Medics came and then they came and finally by 5am she was transported out of the house in the freezing cold weather. Due to Covid, the hospital was not allowing visitors so I had to wait at home. Around 8am they called and said they did xrays but would need to do better scans. I received a call from the nurse late afternoon and was informed that she had a fractured hip and the scans picked up masses on her ovaries meaning metastatic ovarian cancer. They allowed me to go and visit her while she was in the ER before going up into a room. She received a partial hip replacement on Saturday as the surgeon didn’t think her bones would support pins. I guess they didn’t tell him she was riddled with cancer. That alleviated the hip pain but the cancer pain went out of control and she had a very rough weekend trying to manage her pain. Mom didn’t want to take any opioids for fear of becoming addictive but she had a high pain tolerance and regular pain meds didn’t touch it.

Mom and I 1-23-22I was allowed to visit on the 18th to discuss a plan of a short rehab at a facility and then to home with Hospice care. By the 23rd it was apparent that she would not be able to rehab as walking was very painful. I think the fall sent the cancer into overdrive. She also stopped eating due to a sore throat which was finally diagnosed as thrush from some of her meds. By time it was caught, she had already gone several days without eating. My last photo with mama was on the 23rd. I believe she put on a brave face for me. I’m crying as I write this.

I got her home on Tuesday 1/25 and she was in a lot of pain. She also had not been sleeping well at the hospital with noisy roommates. The first night being rough for both of us. I decided the next morning to put her on a regular regime of pain meds and late that night she grabbed my hand and said that she felt so much better, that she slept thru the night. I said, no, you slept the whole day. I felt better. But she wasn’t moving except her hands and head. Theo kitty visited her. The other cats were afraid of the hospital bed. Sam stood on her legs and I had to shoo him off. Tigger got up there to say hello but didn’t stay. Theo was the only one that settled down but mom was in and out of lucidity and sometimes she knew he was there but most times not. I was not alone as mom’s first cousin, Jo, came and sat for several hours each day. Mom loved Joanne like a sister. Their mothers were sisters whom both died of cancer. My best friend, Deb, came in the mornings for several hours to help and then again in the evening to help me attend to her. The nurse came a few times the first week. My sisters were not able to travel here to help me and so I had to keep them updated. The Hospice social worker was a gem and mom saw the chaplain on the 28th.

I surrounded mom with tons of photos and a stuffed black kitty named Tipper which resembled the old girl she lost the other year. The wall in front of her had cards and a cross. I wanted her to feel comfortable, warm and welcomed. I left all the Christmas decor up because we love the lights. As the days progressed she left us little by little and it got harder for her to talk but not before I asked her if she was in pain on the 29th and she said she wasn’t. I exclaimed that I was happy because it was my job to keep her pain free. She said I had a crappy job. She was dying and still had a sense of humor. I burst into laughter and tears. We got a couple inches of snow, so Jo was not able to visit. Then came Sunday and I really thought she would pass on the 30th as she was worsening but no, she hung in there. Monday rolled around and response was minimal. The nurse said it could be any moment, any day and would be back on Tuesday. She stopped totally responding after Jo left that afternoon. Theo visited her and stared at her at 9:06pm. He knew. In my heart, I knew.

February 1st arrived and two nurses showed up (1 in training) and cared for her with a cleansing bath. The Chaplain called and I welcomed his visit. Then Jo showed for hours but mom didn’t respond. That morning a friend from work asked if she could come and pray and that we had been on her mind. I welcomed her to visit around 5:30. Deb stopped by and we saw a cardinal in the tree outside the kitchen window. I hadn’t seen one all winter long. The Hospice social worker thought to pop in to comfort me and mom. They left and Joann from work arrived ten minutes later. As we were standing beside mom talking, I thought I saw her stop breathing and gasped. Joann immediately began praying over her and at 5:47pm on February 1st I watched my beloved mother take her last breath on this earth. Oh my God, the pain! I held her hand, stroked her cheek siting the Lord’s Prayer. She was finally free. I called Deb and Joann left. We made all the calls. Calling my older sister was rough and I asked her to call our little sis as I couldn’t handle it. Deb and I sat there with mom and talked. Theo looking up 2-1-22Theo jumped up on her bed and settled down. He then began staring at the ceiling with wide eyes and mewing. He either saw her spirit or the spirit of all our beloved cats coming to greet her. There’s a photo. By 9pm I was alone with the Hospice nurse and funeral home coming and going along with Deb. It was hard. I felt like a zombie. The whole day was surreal.

Cardinal visit 2-27-22Tomorrow is March 1 marking a long sorrowful month. However, I saw a cardinal yesterday (2/27) and I hadn’t seen one since the 1st. I loved the visit. All the Christmas decorations are down. I left the tree up but decorated it with roses and Victorian hearts for Valentine’s Day. She would have loved it. In April, I’ll change it to spring flowers. We love the lights. My heart is still heavy but the days are getting better. You are probably wondering why I’m sharing this most personal time and that’s because you, Max’s followers, our friends have been so kind to us with positive comments. You welcomed Max into your home through our videos. You care for Max and I. It’s only fitting for me to share my story with you. Yes, there are new YouTube videos – Jan 2022 and Valentines 2022.

I haven’t taken many photos of Max in January or February but here are several for you to enjoy. We have had crazy weather of ice, rain, thaw, snow, thaw, snow, and low temps. I can’t keep track of it. Here you’ll see a few photos of the flooding on the 12th and 18th. I’ve also had a visitor to my front yard bird feeder… a big turkey! He also stopped at the perimeter fence to stare at Max on Feb. 7th and returned on the 18th. It is never a dull moment around here! Two more videos – Max Ice Baby and Max Chicken or Fish?

I will try to keep my website/blog with up to date posts from here on out but no promises!

The Book

I am max coverThe book is done! Yes, I finished Max’s book two days ago and have ordered my proof copy which will probably arrive in a few weeks. You know how it goes with printing and shipping. Once I give it a look over, then I will hit the “publish” button and it will be available to everyone via print on demand! Please pray I don’t need to do any edits. It is a bear.

It has taken me 8 months to compile stories about Max’s life over the last 10 years. Then I had thousands of photos to go through to match to the stories. I have had to purchase two new software programs in order to get it done correctly and still I was told by the printer that my photos were not 300ppi. But dpi’s and ppi’s are so confusing. I made sure that every photo was 300dpi and finding the correct answer on line is difficult. I also had to add additional gutter space because of nine pages over their guidelines. So, did I add too much space or just enough? I have my fingers crossed that it will be okay. If not, well I will just cry…a lot…but will get back to it and figure out the whys and how’s and just fix the darn thing and re-upload.  Be patient.

Wildlife Festival

12-25-15 3356 cover copy (1)If you live in New York state or any of the neighboring states, Max and I will be at this Wildlife Festival on Saturday, September 18 from 10-4. Burt Parrot and Smudge Hedgehog will be with us. There will be lots of North American animal artifacts for touching and learning. Come one, come all. Here’s the link to their Facebook event – Blenheim-Gilboa Wildlife Festival

New Freezer

8/16/21 – Well, I guess it was going to happen sooner or later. Max’s upright freezer for his package meals is on the fritz. It is old…manufactured in 2008 and I got it in 2011 for him. I looked online everywhere for a replacement 5.1 cu. ft. upright freezer and nothing. So, I just ordered a 5 cu ft chest freezer from Amazon and it will be here in a week. I wasn’t expecting this but luckily I haven’t gone to get 200 pounds of meat yet and therefore I can switch the meat I processed last week to the chest freezer which is currently pretty empty except for his chicken. Fingers crossed that the new one will last as long as this one!

Great News!

5-30-2021 – Great news, I received my Dangerous Animal License for Max from the State yesterday. So, Max is safe with me for another year. I jumped through every hoop appropriately. We also have four programs scheduled this summer which will pay for the insurance. I’m happy! Here in this photo you’ll see Max in stalk mode. Deb helped me remove the plastic sheeting which we had installed on the outside of his loft to make it more cozy in the winter. We also raked the straw from the corner cubby and what had fallen out of the loft into a large pile. When I let Max back into this space he was not at all interested in our housekeeping but was keeping a watchful eye on Deb who was twelve feet away. I used her camera to snap a shot. So, this is another version of “Pounce.” When we turned to walk away, he charged the fence. When she turned around, Max flopped down as if nothing interesting was happening. I would have loved to have video that.