I sat for eight hours on the floor with Loki, trying to make him comfortable enough for him to sleep and diligently watching his IV lines. By the end of the day, the vet said that Loki had had a sufficient amount of the IV antibiotics and pain meds that he could leave the clinic. But before we could go, the vet put a pain patch on Loki’s front leg that needed to stay on for three days and that meant that the cone-of-shame needed to stay on as well. Evidently, we weren’t out of the woods yet in many ways. First, it was going to take a small miracle to stop Loki from getting to that pain patch and consuming it. Second, we still didn’t know if his intestines would heal well enough to hold. We had to wait for him to successfully defecate to know he was okay. And so began the Great Poop Watch of 2012.
The day before, Loki had undergone surgery for an obstruction. Apparently when they say the red fox is an opportunistic hunter and will eat anything, they weren’t kidding! Loki had swallowed a piece of one of his plush toys. After a scary surgery and a stressful 24 hours, Loki was now ready to go home. Not having a hospital facility at work to care for him, Loki and I headed to my house; he was going to need round-the-clock care and observation for the next five days.
I set Loki up in his old den: my spare bathroom. I figured he would be most comfortable in familiar territory, as he had slept in there for over two months as a kit. Having no way to monitor him in there I set myself up on the counter top with my laptop, a phone, and a comfy pillow on which to sit and settled in. At first it wasn’t too bad as Loki drifted off to sleep, but as soon as he woke up he tried to get to the pain patch. If he were to get that patch off and swallow it, we would be right back where we started, so I spent the next few hours on the floor in the bathroom sitting right next to him. Every so often, I would give him a syringe with some water to keep him hydrated, but he was still not allowed any solid food for the next 24 hours. Every few hours I would open his mouth and shove some medicine down, but besides that, he was listless and slept most of the day.
Later in the evening Loki was becoming more alert so I let him out of the bathroom. He stumbled around the house, eventually finding comfort in some of his old hang outs–under the kitchen table and on his favorite chair. I can’t believe I saved that chair; I had a feeling that I might need it again. Red foxes have a tendency to create a latrine. Unfortunately, Loki decided early on as a kit that this comfy soft floor chair would make a perfect latrine. I feared that if I threw it away, he would just pick another spot in my home and ruin more things. As gross as it was, at least he had only destroyed one piece of furniture. After Loki moved to Turtle Bay full time, I kept it in the garage just in case we needed it again. Apparently Loki was glad we kept it too.
I slept very little that night, but Loki was fine as he slept in his bathroom den. At this point I knew he still wasn’t feeling well because he managed to stay out of trouble. We continued to follow the vet’s instructions the next day, spending the day watching over him, but he was able to come to work in his kennel. It was now time for the big test: introducing food. If his intestines were healing well they would pass the food properly. If not, he would not defecate at all, the feces would be discolored and malformed, or worse, he would vomit, not being able to keep the food down at all. I am reluctant to call what we gave him his first “meal” as it was a measly 10g of his favorite food. He would have to keep that down for two hours before he could get another 10g. This continued throughout the day for a total of 50g. Then we just had to wait.
That evening Loki had had enough of the cone-of-shame and was determined to get it off. Although still resting a lot, he was clearly feeling better as he relentlessly worked at freeing himself from the cone. To give him a little relief for a while, I removed the cone and stayed very close to him to keep from harming himself. That lasted about two minutes as he immediately started licking and disturbing his incision. He just wasn’t going to make any of this process easy for me. With the cone back on, Loki spent another night in the bathroom den.
On the third morning I woke to the most amazing thing I had seen in a long time. There it was on the floor of the bathroom. It was small, but it was the right color and perfectly formed: poop! I had never been so happy to have an animal go to the bathroom on my floor. It was a beautiful thing to see. I called to my husband to come quickly and look and I texted everyone at work “POOP!!!!!” We were finally out of the woods. We had gotten him through it and Loki was going to be okay.
Over the next few days, Loki’s recovery progressed so well he no longer needed his pain patch or the cone-of-shame. He spent his days in a kennel at work and his evenings romping around the house, pouncing, playing and sleeping on the couch. He got to visit with Inali back at Turtle Bay and completed his recuperation. It was a scary time for all of us, but with the love and dedication of his caretakers, Loki was as good as new.
Sharon Clay, Curator of Animal Programs
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”