Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dogs dying, "FDA clueless"


Jerky Treats Recall: FDA Issues Alerts After 600 Dogs And Cats Mysteriously Dead, Full List Of Pet Treat Recalls

on October 23 2013 12:16 PM
If your dog or cat has gotten sick after eating jerky treats, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to hear your story. While a formal recall has yet to be issued, the FDA is aware of thousands of pet illnesses and deaths tied to jerky treats made in China, and it's asking vets and pet owners to help find the cause.

On Tuesday, the FDA issued a warning -- not a recall -- about alerts it has received over several years concerning Chinese-made jerky treats in tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit. Since 2007, 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. have fallen ill after eating jerky. Of these pets, 580 died. (This number is now 600) (gr)

After six years of research, the FDA is still clueless as to what is causing this long outbreak.

"This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine Director Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D, said. "Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it."

The CVM said it has conducted more than 1,200 tests and visited jerky pet-treat manufacturers in China but cannot determine the cause of illness. The biggest problem is that many of the treats were made in China, where manufacturers of pet foods and treats are “not required by U.S. law to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products.”

As such, the FDA is asking pet owners and veterinarians for help to find the elusive cause. A fact sheet is available for vets to know the exact lab tests needed in order to help as well as how consumers can help report illnesses or deaths.

"Our fervent hope as animal lovers is that we will soon find the cause of—and put a stop to—these illnesses,” Dunham said.

The FDA said the treats in tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit have caused illnesses within hours of consumption. The treats have caused symptoms including decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination. The fatal cases have come from kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder.

The agency said pet owners should be cautious or completely stop feeding their dogs and cats jerky treats. The FDA also recommends seeing a veterinarian if a pet becomes sick after eating jerky treats and asks owners to save the remaining treats and packaging to help solve the mystery.

Short of a formal recall, the FDA said it removed some jerky treats from store shelves in New York in January after a lab found “evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China.” Almost a year ago, some companies issued recalls for their products, according to The Examiner, including:

Nestle Purina PetCare Co.:
Waggin’ Train
Canyon Creek Ranch brand dog treats

Del Monte Corp.:
Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky
Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats

Publix Stores:
Chicken Tenders Dog Chew Treats

IMS Pet Industries Inc.:
Cadet Brand Chicken Jerky Treats sold in the U.S.

  Here's the Huffington Post story


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Touretts is Back

Dolphin burgers for park visitors

WHEN it comes to walking both sides of a macabre street, it's hard to imagine a more audacious example than that of the Japanese town of Taiji.

Already infamous for the annual slaughter of dolphins that was brought to light in the documentary The Cove, Taiji has now announced plans for a marine mammal park.
Visitors can see dolphins and whales in a fenced-off section of a local bay. They can kayak and even swim with them and then snack on a dolphin burger from those slaughtered nearby.

In a project that has won the backing of figures from Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research - the overseer of the country's Antarctic whaling program - Taiji wants to partition more than 28ha of the local Moriura Bay for the park.

"The planned site faces the state road, and I think it will give a great visual effect if the tourists can see the whales swimming in the bay," Taiji town official Masaki Wada told The Australian.
He said black whales and bottlenose dolphins captured off Taiji - some of which are sold to aquariums each year - would be released into the area, creating a whale amusement park. But Mr Wada made it clear that the controversial and bloody dolphin slaughter in nearby Hatakejiri Bay - carried out by stabbing the mammals with sharp stakes - would continue as usual.

"Both of the concepts can coexist," he said.

"The town of Taiji is close to the Pacific Ocean and we can harvest various types of fruits of the sea including whales. We would like to display our cuisine culture.

"Now we have Kujira Katsu Burger (whale cutlet burger) sold at our swimming beach and it sells well.

"Of course there are some people who do not eat it, but it's about individual freedom.

"Our town will proceed with the concept that there is food culture, as well as tourism, when it comes to whales.

"We are not doing anything wrong, and we do not aim to cease our legitimate business because of criticism from outside."

The Cove, released in 2009, brought Taiji, 500km southwest of Tokyo, to worldwide attention, winning an Oscar the following year, after graphically showing the killing of the dolphins, thanks in part to hidden underwater cameras.

Activists continue to visit the town to protest the hunt and have already signalled (sic) they will oppose the marine park plan.

Taiji fishermen, and many Japanese across the country, are surprised by the strength of foreign criticism of whaling, arguing there is no distinction between the practice and that of killing and eating other species.

Training dolphins for people’s entertainment is no longer a tourist attraction in India. The country will instead close the many dolphin parks built across the country and ban any other commercial entertainment, which captures and confines orcas and bottlenose dolphins.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Schlepping Sully, the End

Through rain and sleet. . . kidding. Actually, as much as I'm not fond of a high desert landscape, the rain and the black clouds made it kind of beautiful. Sully and I dipped into Nevada, then back up into Oregon. As we neared the California state line, a single thought occupied my mind: will the fruit and veggie border patrol let me bring a gull into the State. I was hopeful. I brought my parrot in 22 years ago. I needn't have worried. They are still only looking for produce.

That day we made it to Burney Falls. I found a motel easily enough, but the less expensive queen rooms did not have tubs. For $20 extra, I could get the last king, and did I have a pet?

I was getting better at lying. "A bird, but he can stay in the car."

Though the motel looked like something out of the 1940s, it had the best bathroom of the trip. (As you can see.) I let Sully out and he flapped his wings, lifting off the tile floor, like a dancer. While I filled his bath, he bounced around the room, tapping the floor with his webbed-feet, and flapping his wings to lift himself inches off the ground--a ballet of sorts.

This was our third night in a motel, and Sully knew the drill. He flew over landed on the towel on the side of the tub and dove in. I had to close the curtain to keep him from flinging the contents of the tub out on the floor.   

The remaining fish was looking a little gummy, so I left him to enjoy his bath, and drove to Safeway, where I found two Tilapia fillets for four dollars.

The next morning, my tire pressure light was on. (And of course the Maintenance Required light still burned brightly.) I passed Mike's Automotive Repair on the edge of town, did a U-turn, and pulled in to have them check the oil and add air to the tires.

I think the worst part of the drive for Sully, and for me, was listening to him being pitched from side to side in the cage for the entire the length of Hwy. 20--the last leg of our journey.. (For unfamiliar readers, Hwy. 20 from Willits to Fort Bragg, is 33 miles of unrelenting twists and turns.) (Our roads, from inland to the Coast, are what keep us from looking like Disneyland in the summer.)

Sully and I had driven 1600 miles and I still hadn't decided what I was going to do with him. I'd whittled the choices down to Noyo Harbor, where the gulls trail after the incoming fishing boats, or Lake Cleone, which is north of town. It's a fresh water lake, and since Sully had been born on a freshwater lake, I was leaning toward it. At that moment, I was too tired to decide anything. It was 3 p.m.; I drove home.

There is an 8 X 8 foot flight cage in my backyard from my animal rehab days. I let Sully bathe in my tub, then took him out and put him in the flight cage. I decided to decide in the morning. 

Sully was not used to flying, so I wasn't sure how strong a flier he was. He was also used to being fed by humans, and foraging for himself on the ground. Noyo Harbor was ideal for gulls used to following boats, and diving for fish scraps on the wing. That was not Sully. I thought the competition in the harbor would overwhelm him, so before dawn the next morning, I got up, stuffed Sully in his cage and drove to Lake Cleone. No more thinking about it, or weighing my options. I opened the cage door, and dumped him out. He ran straight through the crowd of ducks, launched himself into the lake and took a bath. That's Sully in the picture below, one minute into his new life.

The other advantage to Lake Cleone is it's full of minnows, and insects, and just on the other side of an old road, is the ocean. There are hundreds of gulls over there, and they come to Cleone to bathe. My hope was he'd join them. Until he did, I would drive out every day to feed him.
Lake Cleone at sunrise

My heart nearly broke the next day when I went out with fresh fish and a scrambled egg and couldn't find him. 

The day after that, he was sitting on the grass with the ducks. He saw me wave to him through the windshield, blinked like he couldn't believe his eyes and ran to meet me. Fending off a young herring gull, I fed him a bowl of fish and an egg. He headed straight to the lake for a bath. 

For the next two days, he wasn't there when I was, then, last Thursday, I think I saw him for the last time. There are other 1st winter Ring-bills out there, but once the boo-boo on Sully's bill healed, I couldn't tell him from the others. I think it was him. He was near the picnic table, and he took what I tossed him, but he didn't come any nearer than the other three gulls. 
Lagoon Point looking west.


It's what I hoped for, of course, but I also miss him. I keep telling myself that I did all I possibly could. That's the hardest thing, isn't it? The not knowing for sure.
Just on the other side of the road from Lake Cleone looking north
P.S. I've been out 4 more times since the last time I saw a Ring-bill and knew it was him. If he's there, and I can't imagine why he wouldn't be, he's been absorbed and is back to being a wild gull.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Schlepping Sully Part VI

Oregon is huge.

I've been to Malheur a number of times. When I moved to Fort Bragg, I stopped there on the way and pulled the RV up under some cottonwoods. I was sitting at the table eating a sandwich when a young deer appeared in the doorway and tried to climb the steps. He'd obviously been hand raised, and then released in the Refuge. I scratched his ears, and fed him an apple. The heartbreak came when I drove away and he ran along side until I reached the highway.   

The town of Burns. OR, is the gateway to Malheur. The refuge itself it about 30 miles south of town, but it's a full 50 miles to French Glen at the southernmost point. To get out of Malheur, one has to either return to Burns, or drive over a hundred miles into Nevada on Hwy. 205, a very lonely, two lane road. From there, I'd have to turn west on Hwy. 140 for another long drive to Lakeview, OR, the next town of any size. I reasoned that if I didn't find a gull population, I'd have to come back to Burns. If I did find one and released Sully, I could camp at French Glen. However, by the time I reached Burns, about 3 p.m., I'd driven another 350 miles and was tired. It may have been the wrong decision, but I decided to spend the night in Burns and do the entire drive in the morning.

I drove the length of Burns looking for a motel with a 'pet friendly' sign. No luck. I stopped at the nicest looking one, and got as far as filling out the registration card when the girl asked if I had a pet. I said a bird. She had to check with the manager, who say a dog was okay, but not a bird. Go figure. I drove to the Motel 6. When the woman there asked if I had any pets, I again said a bird, but that I would leave him in the car. Like hell. Motel 6 was do or die. The only other motel looked too scary to contemplate.

I carried all my stuff in, put Sully's fish in the little refrigerator, and filled the tub. There was a window in the office that looked out on the parking lot. I kept watching, waiting for someone else to come check in. Then I'd know where that woman was, and would sneak Sully in while she was busy. It didn't take long. I carried his cage in, put him in the tub, took the cage back to the car, and covered it with the blanket.

I'm not a good liar, and I didn't sleep well for worrying about whether I'd get caught in the morning. It was still dark when I woke at 6. The parking lot was lit up like Times Square, but it was still the best chance I had to get him in the car before morning. I unlocked the car, came back and wrapped Sully in my sweater. He squawked loud enough to wake the dead until I covered his head. I slipped outside, stuffed him in his cage, and went back to bed.

Storm over Malheur
By morning, it was pouring rain. Long story short, I did not find a single bird in Malheur. I'm sure they were somewhere, but not in any of the bodies of water I passed. I took detours down gravel roads. Nothing. 

I sat in the car with the rain beating down and looked at the map for options. Klamath was hundreds of miles away. Then I remembered my last visit to Klamath. Bald eagles winter there. Lots of them. Did I snatch Sully from the talons of a Holland Lake eagle only to deliver him to an eagle smorgasbord?  Bald eagles at Klamath NWR

Eagles at Klamath by

Hwy 205, the long, lonely road out of Malheur

I decide that home where, this time of year, we have at least seven species of gulls, was my last, best option. 

This is an adult Ring-billed gull in breeding plumage.
 These birds forage in flight or pick up objects while swimming, walking or wading. They also steal food from other birds and frequently scavenge. They are omnivorous; their diet may include insects, fish, grain, eggs, earthworms and rodents. These birds are opportunistic and have adapted well to taking food discarded or even left unattended by people. It is regarded as a pest by many beach-goers because of its willingness to steal unguarded food on highly crowded beaches. The gull's natural enemies are rats, foxes, dogs, cats, raccoons, coyotes, eagles, hawks, and owls 

A birder I know said the true limiting factor for Ring-billed Gulls is the lack of parking lots. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Schlepping Sully Part V

Flathead Lake by

Flathead Lake in Winter by

Assured that there were gulls at Flathead Lake all year long, I left Holland Lake for the 50-plus mile drive north, where I expected to off-load my cargo, then return to Holland Lake Lodge with their pet carrier. The four mile drive over the washboard road from the Lodge to the highway was the longest of the entire trip. Poor, trusting Sully had been slapped into a cage, covered with a blanket, and was now being rattled about like a bean in a can. He flapped and paced for the entire drive. On the upside, I figured he'd never put his survival in the hands of another human being.  

Malheur NWR

An hour after leaving the Lodge, I arrived at the north end of Flathead Lake. I drove from point to point along the lake, scanning it with binoculars for gulls. There were none. I turned around and headed south on Hwy. 35, which paralleled the east side of the lake, pulling over at every opportunity to scope out the shoreline. I began to feel like an idiot for not trusting my instincts. Of course, there were no gulls. What would they eat over winter even if the lake didn't freeze, which I was told it never did. At the southern tip of the lake, I turned south toward Missoula. The next best option was Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in southeast Oregon--a day and a half away.

About this time the Maintenance Required light that had been flashing each time I started the Prius, came on permanently.

I was south of Missoula on some back road, when I found a nice pull off and decided to see if feeding Sully would relive his unrelenting anxiety. The writers group had pitched in fish from our last meal at the Lodge. I had a Ziploc full of halibut, a couple of scallops, a lovely chunk of Panko-crusted trout, and some scrambled eggs. 

You may recall from Part I that I'd planned to camp both coming and going to Montana, so the entire length of the rear of the passenger side of the car was filled with a feather comforter folded in half. Behind my seat was a folding chair on top of which I'd placed Sully's pet carrier. A small cooler was behind the passenger seat with the head of the comforter covering it. My laptop and all associated paraphernalia were in a backpack, on top of the comforter, as was my suitcase. There was another bag containing a cook-stove, plate, cutting board, and utensils jammed in next to the cooler. Oh, and a bag of groceries, whittled down to crackers, a can of Wasabi peas, peanut butter, toilet paper and paper towels.

I failed to mention that I'd lined the bottom of Sully's cage with a couple sheets of newspaper for the drive to Flathead Lake. Not nearly enough, but like most smells you get used to them, and frankly, I kind of grew to like it. Anyway, I got some fish and eggs from the Ziploc in the cooler, then traipsed around to Sully's side of the car, open the cage door wide enough to get my arm in, and fed him. After that, he settled down.

I'd been up since before dawn and, with Sully quiet, I started to get sleepy myself. I was on Hwy. 93, which paralleled the lovely Salmon River. I found a wayside park, pulled in, climbed onto that down bed, put my legs on top of my suitcase, and fell asleep until Sully fluffed his feathers about 10 minutes later.

We're by then about 350 miles into the trip and the first night on the road to Malheur was looming. There were campgrounds along the river, but what were the chances I'd get a wink of sleep? I looked at the map and decided the next town I came to large enough to have a motel would be it for the day. What exactly I was going to do with Sully, I wasn't sure, but as we became fond of saying at the writers workshop. "I'll burn that bridge when I come to it." (This story is long enough without explaining how funny we thought that was.)
I owe them 4 stars. Northgate Inn, Challis.

 The Northgate Inn, Challis, ID. Their sign said, WiFi and pets welcome. It was family owned and the nice lady asked me, when I checked in, if I had a pet. I was honest. I said a bird.

"I won't charge you for it."

I'm pretty sure her mind went to a parakeet, or maybe a canary, but she didn't ask and I didn't tell her. Though my room was near the front, I parked at the rear entrance to the motel, checked that the coast was clear, and rushed down the hall with Sully's cage. 

When I checked in, I specifically asked if the rooms had bathtubs. I'm sure you can see my thinking here. They did and that's where Sully spent the night. I ran a little water in tub, and opened the cage door. He wasn't too eager to come out until I splashed water like a bird bathing. He couldn't resist then. I put the cage on the floor, and started filling the tub. It scared him at first, but with the shower curtain pulled, he couldn't get out. I filled it more slowly, and pretty soon, he was all in. He bathed with wing-slapping joy, not once but three times. I fed him, made sure the shower curtain had no gaps, and turned out the light. Night, night, bird.

I won't go into what the tub looked like in the morning. I drained it, fed Sully, refilled it so he could bathe again, then put him in his cage, and took a shower myself to rinse away any further evidence.
Sunrise in Challis, ID

I carry a Fort Bragg phone book in my car. I looked up my mechanic's home phone number and called to ask if I should worry about the Maintenance Required light. He said it meant I needed an oil change, and not to worry.

"I'm about 1000 miles from home."  

"You'll make it."

My second call was to Ron LeValley, an authority on birds. He said Malheur would be a perfect place for Sully, and if not there, try Klamath NWR in south central Oregon.
There was a little restaurant a block or two down the street. For breakfast, I ordered one egg over easy and one egg scrambled to go.

Hwy 93 out of Challis

In memory of Oscar "Bud" Owre
       on this his birthday

Monday, October 7, 2013

Schlepping Sully Part IV

I think this is Glacier NP from the Lodge
I was set to depart for home on Sunday morning the 22nd. On Thursday, I mentioned to the staff person who'd been feeding Sully (bread) for 6 weeks that, with any luck, I'd be taking him with me.
        "Oh no, she said. "I'd miss him. I'll take him to Flat Head Lake when I leave."

This played into all my trepidations about taking him. Was it the right thing to do? Would he fly out of here on his own when the time came? Had that time come and gone? What if there weren't any birds at Flat Head Lake? The only other birds on Holland Lake were a pair of mergansers, and a Western grebe. (Or so I thought.) And if there were no gulls at Flat Head Lake, what was I going to do with a gull in the car for the 4-day drive home?

If I leave him, I told her, will you stop feeding him bread? He needs protein--left over fish, scrambled eggs.

         "Gulls are scavengers," she said. "He'll be fine."

If she hadn't said that, I might have left him, but she was blowing me off. She'd been taking care of Sully for 6 weeks and here's some squat little old lady about to abscond with their mascot--her buddy. She couldn't have cared less about my credentials or whatever it was I thought I knew about birds.

To be fair, all the staff at Holland Lake Lodge is amazing. Every person knows your name by day two, and you are treated like family. It was one of the most pleasant experiences I've ever had--with the single exception of worrying about the damn bird.

There was a baby shower on the lawn the same day I revealed the plan to Sully's other mother. I totally understood that they didn't want the pet carrier in the view shed, but it went from being placed out of sight to disappearing completely.

At night I would sleep for a few hours, then wake and run all the scenarios on a loop in my head. If I was a normal person (and I mean that in every sense of the word) I would have let this go, deciding that it was their bird, so to speak, and that I should let nature take it's course. But then I'm not normal.

Those of you who have read Lost in the River of Grass may see reality playing out where only a fiction existed. I didn't see that link between me, and my struggle to do the right thing by Sully, and Sarah and Teapot, the baby mallard in Lost . . . until I was on the road home. Or for that matter, now that I think about it, Joey and Sukari, Hannah and Rega, and Buddy and Annie. It's who I am, and what I do, and the theme of every bloody book I write. Duh!

I went to Liz for advice. After all she and this group of writers were regulars; they'd already booked next year's dates. I didn't want to turn the whole place on its ear over practically the most common species of GULL on the planet. Bless her and them. To a person, they were in my corner and suggested I email the owner who'd left--poor guy--for a vacation of his own. I asked yea or nay, did he want me to back off and leave Sully there?

I spent another sleepless night waiting for his answer, not at all sure, he'd even check his email. The next morning I decided to ask the owner's mother. She said absolutely I should take him, and promised I'd get the cage back to me on Sunday morning. Of course, that meant no more training him to eat on the inside, but there was nothing more I could do. I knew for sure that I'd get one shot at him. During breakfast, she whispered that the owner had called her. They both wanted me to take him.

That night, I borrowed a sleeping pill from one of the other writers.

I packed up Saturday night and put most of my stuff in the car. I also moved it out of sight of the apartment where this staff person lives. The gull-napping plan was afoot. It was still dark when I woke Sunday morning. I looked out the window, saw the cage but the gate, and Sully standing in the yard looking at it. I grabbed my bowl of leftover fish, scallops, and scrambled eggs, and tiptoed down stairs. No one else was awake, so I crept outside, and moved the cage over by the door where I'd fed him before. Sully came running, but would have no part of going in after the tidbits I placed in the rear of the cage. I spent 30 minutes alone working on getting him in, then the yellow jackets showed up, and the first guests started trouping out to watch the sunrise.

Sully wasn't bothered by people walking in and out, but he'd have no part of trying to take something away from a yellow jacket. I removed the food, and went in to take the chill off by the fire. Breakfast was starting and the place would soon be swarming with guests. I wanted to cry. Instead, I defrosted my feet and hands and went back out to try again.

I placed a tiny bite at a time--afraid he'd get full and lose interest--first in front of the cage, then just inside. He snatched them in the blink of an eye. If he didn't get at least the front half of himself in the cage, I wouldn't be fast enough to get the door closed. My stomach churned, and my back was killing me.

The sun was up and people were headed back in for breakfast. I'd been at it for well over an hour. Scallops were is favorite. I gave him a tiny taste, then put another bite in the center of the cage. I heard the lodge door start to open, but didn't dare look up. I heard it close. Sully charged in, I smacked him in the butt, and slammed the door. I grabbed the blanket I'd brought from my car, covered the cage to keep him from squawking, and took off down the trail through the woods to my car.

At breakfast, one of the other writers asked if I'd seen the eagle.circling off shore yesterday morning? I had not, but now was pretty sure Sully's life expectancy had been that day or the next.

This is how clear Holland Lake is.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Schlepping Sully Part III

 I heard that. 
"I'm taking the time to read this and it's about a sea gull? Give me a break."
By the second day at Holland Lake, when it was becoming clear what Sully's situation was, I was telling myself the same thing. It's a gull!

Some time in early August, a storm came through Holland Lake and the next morning there was Sully. (No one seemed to know who named him, but we can assume he's named after Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed his disabled jet in the Hudson River.)(For a time, he was also known as Little Dude.)

The staff at Holland Lake began feeding him (bread, mostly) and so did the guests. By the time I arrived in mid-September, Sully was a well-established mascot of the Lodge though no one was sure what he was. They thought he was a gull, but a guest had told them he was a tern. I was the first person in the five or six weeks he'd been there who recognized that he was an immature Ring-billed gull--specifically a 1st winter bird. (Many gulls go through a number of plumage changes before reaching maturity and their full adult plumage.)

For readers who don't know my background, I have an undergraduate degree in biology, all my electives were ornithology classes, and my senior paper was on the territoriality of Great White herons in the Florida Keys. I've done animal rehab for 30 some odd years, and am past president of our local Audubon Society. I not only recognized what he was, but also his fate if he stayed much longer at Holland Lake Lodge.

Everyone agreed that he'd probably been blown in from Flat Head Lake about 50 miles north northwest of Holland Lake. That's where they'd seen lots of gulls in the past. Their plan was to capture him when the Lodge closed for the season (October 14th) and take him to Flat Head Lake. 

The only person in this workshop I knew, and not that well, was Elizabeth Rosner, our leader. Liz taught a well-received workshop at the Mendocino Coast Writers conference a year earlier. I'd met her, but as a frenzied board member, never spent more than a moment or two chatting. Then, this spring I ran into her at Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. She told me about the workshop in Montana and I signed up--admittedly because it was in Montana. So, while I started worrying about Sully right away, I was uncomfortable being too out there with my dire predictions for his chances of survival in a crowd of strangers, all of whom were friends, and this their third or fourth writing workshop with Liz at Holland Lake Lodge.
Me and Sully by Liz Rosner

I started my campaign by asking about an animal rehab facility in the area. There had been someone, but he'd died recently. Then I suggested that catching a wild bird, even one as tame as Sully, was going to be a challenge. They'd only get one chance, and it was likely that he would bite whoever grabbed him and, even though that wouldn't really hurt, the knee-jerk reaction would be to drop him, and that would be that. They'd close down, and he'd be left on a lake surrounded by deep forest and high mountains to perish with the first snow. (Actually, as it turns out, he probably wouldn't have lasted another day or two.)

By day three, Liz, bless her insightful heart, suggested I take him when I left. I could drive him to Flat Head Lake. I asked the owner of the Lodge, who was immediately on-board and gave me a pet carrier to put him in. The next step was to change his diet. Yes gulls are scavengers and will eat just about anything, but a steady diet of bread wasn't doing him any good. The writers started tithing fish from their dinners. In the mornings, I'd order two eggs scrambled--one for me & one for Sully. I also discovered there were lots of small grasshoppers in areas where the lakeside grasses were long. I got very good and catching them, trying to ignore the image I was presenting to the other guests. Though a couple of the Lodge staff continued to bring him bread, Sully stopped eating it. 

Sully & Christina
There was a lot of concern about whether Sully could fly. When he saw me, he'd run across the yard. It wasn't until Day 5 that I saw him fly, but only for a few yards. If a dog came into the yard, he'd run to the lake and float away. He also slept on the lake at night. 

One thing I wanted to do was get him familiar with the pet carrier. I put it outside on the south side of the front entrance, door open and started feeding him in it. As I said, Sully was no fool, but he also trusted me--totally. I figured if I fed him in it for a few days and the door never slammed, when it was time to leave, he'd have lost his suspicion of it.After a couple of tries starting with bits of egg or fish in front of the cages, and each subsequent bite placed further and further into the cage, he got more daring--zipping in and out to snatch the meal. Success was at head until the day of the baby shower.

Holland Lake north (I think) by Liz Rosner

Me kayaking by Liz

Sully video
Familiar acrobats of the air, Ring-billed Gulls nimbly pluck tossed tidbits from on high. Comfortable around humans, they frequent parking lots, garbage dumps, beaches, and fields, sometimes by the hundreds. These are the gulls you're most likely to see far away from coastal areas—in fact, most Ring-billed Gulls nest in the interior of the continent, near freshwater. A black band encircling the yellow bill helps distinguish adults from other gulls—but look closely, as some other species have black or red spots on the bill.