Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Christmas Feast

Occasionally we give the gliders something special for dinner, like a boiled chicken drumette. They usually clean the whole bone and then some during the course of the night. For their Christmas dinner this year they each had their own large turkey leg bone. Included in the dinner guest list was Molly, our son's glider. Since he was going to be here for two days he brought Molly along, and she stayed in an extra cage,  M made a large quantity of turkey broth using turkey drumsticks. Once she removed most of the meat she set the bones aside for their dinner.

Molly went right to work on her bone. In addition to cleaning her turkey bone during the night, she also finished all of her other food (the standard diet we feed our gliders).  Our gliders didn't touch much of their other food, which was somewhat surprising since there was not much meat on the turkey bones. I guess between gnawing on the bones, playing, and the occasional nap they didn't have the inclination or time to eat their regular food.

Molly enjoying her Christmas turkey leg bone.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deck the Halls

M puts a lot of time and effort into decorating the house for Christmas, and since we've had the gliders their cage is decorated too. M made all of the accessories with the exception of the sugar comb, which we purchased.

"The stockings were hung on the cage with care..."
We still need to get stockings up for Virga and Cirrus.

This is the Christmas Tree sleeping pouch, their favorite to sleep in.
The entrance to the pouch is between the two red hang tabs

This is their "Santa Pants" sleeping pouch. Each leg is somewhat of a
separate space by itself. When they use this pouch all four gliders
will usually be in one side or the other.
This is a Christmas tree "sugar comb"  A sugar comb is a
multi-level hammock for the gliders to climb on and in.
In the foreground is one of the braided fleece ropes
we have in the cage for them to climb on.
This is a candy cane climbing post.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Manic Mornings

With approach of the winter solstice and sunrise a little later each day, mornings are dark until around 7:00 a.m. or so, especially the cloudy mornings,  Lately the gliders have been far more active in the morning than at night. Our night sessions have consisted of us giving them their mealworms, then usually Foehn, CB, and sometimes Cirrus climbing into M's sweatshirt until she goes to get ready for bed. Virga is usually the only one who stays out and spends most of her time in the wheel, occasionally taking a break to come visit M or I before getting back to her exercise. So, nights for me have been, well, boring. The mornings usually begin with M bringing them into the office for yogurt between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m.  Virga and Cirrus are typically waiting for her, although Cirrus sometimes stays in the cage to snack in the kitchens for a bit. CB and Foehn are in the sleeping pouch, so they are an easy transport into the office. Once they are in the office, all of them will usually come out for their lick of yogurt, and then are off to the races. CB and Foehn run circuits around the room, climbing the tree, jumping to M's shoulder or lap, jumping to the floor. taking a few spins on the wheel, and doing it all over again. This can go on for 20 or 30 minutes or more. We've talked about possibly switching "official" play time from evenings to mornings, but in general the night sessions work better for us.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Bear, the Pig, and the Tiger

Gliders are nocturnal animals, and without actually staying up all night of video recording them you really don't know what they are up to.  We know they eat, because their food is gone in the morning, and we know they sleep a lot even at night. They also play, and recent mornings has left evidence of their nighttime activities. Almost every morning for the last couple of weeks we have found this on the floor in front of the cage:

It's a bear, a pig, and a tiger. These are three small stuffed animals that we have on the top of the cage. Occasionally we have found the bear on the floor, but in the last week or two all three have been on the floor in the morning. And, I think it's becoming a game with them. We place the animals on top of the cage, and during the night they manage to work them across the top until they fall onto the floor - every morning. Early this year Cirrus and Virga managed to work a plastic bowl of toys across the top and onto the floor. We're not sure if it's just one or all of them working on this, but someone is having a good time at night. The next thing is to get the video camera set up again to catch them in the act.

The bear, the pig, and the tiger atop the cage.

Monday, November 21, 2011

C'mon You Guys...

Since the weather has turned colder M has been wearing a sweatshirt jacket during playtime in the office. Unfortunately, that  happens to be a very nice warm place for the gliders to curl up in, and it has meant a decrease in their activity.  All four of them are usually pretty lively when the mealworms are being handed out. Once that's over, however, CB, for one, usually makes his way over to M and climbs in her sweatshirt.  Foehn often decides to join him, and occasionally Cirrus. Virga usually spends her time in the wheel, stopping once in a while and climbing up M's leg to check on what the others are up to. In the meantime, I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs in the dark until M has to leave to put their food in the cage. Then I scoop them out of her sweatshirt and once out they will usually run and climb for a time. I can usually tell when they are ready to go back in the cage as they start slowing down.  I take one of their bonding pouched and shake it so the zipper rattles, then drop it to the floor.  Four gliders scurry from wherever they have been at and climb into the pouch, waiting for me to take them back to the cage and to dinner.

Monday, November 14, 2011

You Can Never Have Too Many Blankets

Foehn has long been the "Susie homemaker" of the group. She has been the one to enforce pouch cleanliness (or take issue with those that don't share her view), and of the three females she has been the one to exhibit nesting behavior consistently. One of the things that always cracks us up is when she pulls the fleece blankets into the pouch so she can make things comfy for all of them. You just see the blankets disappear as they are  pulled into the pouch. Last night Foehn, CB, and Cirrus remained in the pouch for much of play time. I had set the pouch down on a chair and watched as she came out and pulled a small blanket into the pouch. I called M to come and watch  (they have a lot of blankets now that the weather is getting colder). She dropped blankets one by one at the opening of the pouch, and one by one Foehn came and pulled them inside. I had the camera ready this time and took video of Foehn's efforts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Catch-Up Time

The last few weeks have been pretty busy and I haven't much time (nor inclination) to blog. While nothing really significant has happened with the gliders, there have been a few interesting things to note.

First there was what I call "The Week of Consternation". One of the gliders was in heat (I forget who) and there was no lack of "tsk" ing and hissing in the pouch over the course of three or four days. There was even a minor ball-up or two during play time that had us a little concerned. However, once the hormones subsided things turned to normal.

As fall progressed all the gliders were gradually losing weight, with Virga going from around 103 grams this summer to 92 grams in early October. None of them seemed to lack any energy and were in good health. Interestingly, for the last ten days they have completely cleaned their dishes overnight and are eating well. There was no weighing the last two weekends because we were gone. They traveled with us both weekends and did very well. They were, however, very glad to be home Sunday night and able to run around the office instead of in the travel cage.

With the sun not rising until after 7:00 a.m. the last few weeks (until this past Sunday), the gang has been very active in the mornings, especially those that are cloudy and even more dark. M said they were running, climbing, and jumping all over the place once they were in the office. One morning a week or so ago when it was raining I came in to get my stuff for work and was greeted by gliders climbing up my leg, not the usual. Since we have gone off Daylight Saving Time the sun is up earlier and they are a little more settled in by the time we get up to give them their morning yogurt.

Well, they are getting hungry and it's time to get them back to the cage. I'm on yogurt duty in the morning so it's time for me to turn in as well.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Years

Friday the 14th was the second anniversary of Foehn's and CB's arrival here. As I sit here writing this Virga and CB are spinning in their wheel, Foehn is climbing up my leg, and Cirrus is relaxing under the desk. Foehn and CB have matured in the two years we've had them, but the personalities they exhibited in the long trip here two years ago haven't changed much. Neither of them are as tolerant of being handled as are Virga and Cirrus. However, they are comfortable with us and we haven't had the escapes and scares that we had in the first year or so.. Foehn is certainly calmer than she used to be, but of the two she is the more skittish. She will nip you if she doesn't want your finger near her, but on the other hand she will sit there and let you rub her between the ears for several minutes.  CB, of course, is still a pretty mellow little guy who likes to crawl into your shirt for a nap.

Well, time to go round them up for their trip back to the cage and dinner.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"There's a Bathroom on the Right"

It was a few years ago when I started hearing a radio commercial for some new smoothie type drink. I heard that commercial numerous times, and I thought they called the product "lightweight keefer".  A year or so later when we were picking up Virga and Cirrus from their previous owner, she told us that they liked kefir (didn't  know the correct spelling at the time), a yogurt-like drink. So, we went to the store to find some, and there it was on the shelf -" Lifeway Kefir".  I told M that I head been hearing this commercial for this stuff and what I thought it had been called. It was much like the stories you hear about people who totally misunderstand song lyrics, such as Creedence Clearwater's "Bad Moon Rising". The correct lyric is "there's a bad moon on the rise" (just in case you forgot).

It turned out that all four of our gliders like kefir, and M has resumed giving them some a couple of times a week in the afternoon.  Cirrus really likes her kefir, and is usually the first nose to appear when it's time. M dips her finger in it and lets them lick it off, but for Cirrus that's not always fast enough, and there are three others competing with her for licks! So, she often helps herself while M takes care of the other three.

Cirrus helping herself to some kefir.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Everyone, to the Shirt!

The disadvantage to having playtime in the office is that the gliders can avoid us if they want as there are many places for them to curl up in. On some nights they run, climb, and jump all over the place, and other times they try and find a place to nap, especially CB and Foehn. When we are in the tent it's a more confined space and there are fewer places to hide.  Last fall and winter CB made a habit of climbing into my shirt and curling up for a 20 to 30 minute nap before he would come out and play. That's hard for him to do in the summer when I'm wearing t-shirt most of the time. With the recent cooler weather M has been wearing a sweatshirt in the office during playtime.  CB has found that is the perfect place for a nap, and now dives right in after meal worms have been served. Foehn sometimes joins him. Typically Virga and Cirrus spend their time being active - running in the wheel, chasing around the office, and like tonight, climbing on the window screen trying to get at a fly trapped on the other side. Last night we were both in here with the gliders.  M was browsing on the computer, and after a few minutes I noticed that it was very quiet - no wheel noise, no climbing on the screen, and no rapid patter of glider feet on the floor.  "How many do you have in your shirt?", I asked.  "Three.", said M. I grabbed the flashlight (red light) to look for the missing glider. I checked the climbing tree, behind the desk, in the extra pouches, and no glider.  "It's time for a head count", I said to M. She pulled down the zipper of the sweatshirt and we looked in where at first, there was just a ball of grey fur. Within a few seconds four pairs of dark eyes were looking up at us with that "What??" look. All gliders present and accounted for!

Only three are visible here - Foehn in the back, Virga middle, and Cirrus front.
CB is tucked in behind Foehn and probably still asleep.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Well, baseball season and the summer are over, so it was time to make the seasonal change in cage decor. M removed the artificial ivy and the Cubs cage accessories last weekend, and autumn leaves and Halloween have taken their place. This cage decor includes a witches hat sleep pouch which the gliders really like. It hangs in the middle of the cage and has a smallish opening (at least compared to a standard pouch), and the bottom is big enough for them to spread out, and secure enough for them to snuggle together. It's probably more like a tree nest, which they would likely have in the wild. When they begin to stir and start grooming at night, the whole hat sort of vibrates as it hangs from the top of the cage. Usually not long after a head will peek out the opening, and Virga or Cirrus will climb out and head for the wheel until it's time to go to the office. CB and Foehn wait until we have brought them into the office for play time before poking their heads out. They know meal worms are waiting for them.

The witches hat sleeping pouch
Cirrus peeking out before climbing out tonight.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Welcome to the Colony

For the last week or so the gliders have been giving M a lot of attention during their play time. Virga and Cirrus, and usually CB, have been spending  good amount of time grooming M's arm. In the past maybe one of the gliders would groom us, but to have three going at it was unusual. This wasn't just for a few seconds, either - they were very persistent and thorough. Most of the time they are licking her arm, but sometimes Virga gets a little too enthusiastic and starts using her teeth. M has to take her off and tell her "no". Her arm ended up with tiny bruises from Virga's nips.

 M is the Queen of Treats, the Mistress of Mealworms, so their attention to give M isn't hard to understand.  Virga and Cirrus, in particular, head to the door when she enters the room. Their grooming her is a sign of acceptance and trust. (Either that, or her arm tastes like yogurt or mealworms).

Virga (top), Cirrus, and CB (bottom) at work grooming M

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

M's Special Time

While we were away on vacation up north the gliders seemed to sense it was a time for relaxing as well. Most nights they slept until 10:00 p.m. or later, and I often had to take them into the tent and encourage them to come out so they could get some play time in. Since we have been home they have returned to their normal routine, especially Virga.  She is almost always the first one up at night, usually sometime around 9:30 or so.  Often our first sign that she is up is when we hear her in the wheel. As soon as Virga sees us she usually leaves the wheel and comes to the front of the cage waiting for her "ride" into the office. M is often the first to the cage, and Virga climbs on to her arm and stays on her arm or shoulder for the short trip to the office.  I think they both look forward to their little ritual.  Virga and M seem to have quite the bond between morning yogurt, the trip to playtime, and their meal worm snack. Lately Virga has been spending time grooming M's arm, essentially giving her arm a bath. Cirrus sometimes joins in as well, and as M says, it's hard to believe two little tongues can get you so wet.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Vacation Escapade

This has been a crazy six weeks.  Since the middle of July I have been gone two full weeks, and then last week M and I headed to northern Wisconsin to enjoy a week in the Northwoods with good friends of ours. I have had little time to blog about the gliders until now. As was the case last year, the gliders accompanied us on the trip up north. We were much better prepared this year and departure and travel went without out a hitch. We spent one night in a hotel, a La Quinta Inn, which are pet-friendly. It was clean, comfortable, and we all got a good night's rest, or play, in the case of the furry four.

During our week up north I tried to spend some time in the tent each night with them. They all were "sleeping in" during our week up north, and frequently were still asleep at 10:00 or 10:30 p.m.  Normally at home they are up and around sometime around 9:30 p.m. On Wednesday night we wrapped up play time and they all climbed into the pouch for the trip back to the cage. Their travel cage is a portable "pet playpen" with a top that zips on. I opened up the top an placed them on the floor. They all came out of the pouch, but Cirrus climbed back up my arm and didn't seem to want to get off. Finally, I coaxed her down and zipped the top closed.

Sometime around 4:00 a.m. M got up to use the restroom and on the way out the bedroom door heard barking coming from the tent. I left the tent up in a loft area in the cabin. It was out of the way and I didn't have to fold it up each night. Anyway, at first M didn't quite comprehend what she was hearing, as she was still sleepy and not expecting to hear barking from the tent. She checked it, and sure enough it turns out Foehn was in the tent. After a few minutes of coaxing she as finally able to gather Foehn up and bring her back to the cage. In the meantime I had awakened to M talking to Foehn, shocked that she was out. We thoroughly checked the cage to make sure that someone had not chewed through the screening or tunneled through the floor. Everything as intact as far as we could tell. What likely happened was that Foehn climbed out while I was dealing with Cirrus and I never noticed her leaving. They move so fast that she was probably out of sight before I finished with Cirrus. Fortunately, she chose to head at some point to the tent which was familiar to her. M thinks Foehn was barking to attract her attention. I couldn't believe I didn't see her leave.  There are a dozen other places she could have ended up in the cabin where we would have had a difficult time finding her, and possibly with a tragic outcome. Needless to say, from that point on I made sure to do a head count after things were all zipped up for the night. Other than that little incident, all of us had a relaxing time, and they are all back to their regular routine at home.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's All in the Presentation

Sugar gliders are still relatively new in the pet world, in the last 10 years or so. Since they are an exotic and relatively new as pets, you can't go to your local pet superstore and buy a bag of glider chow.  Diets have been developed over the years to try and meet the nutritional needs of gliders. There must be a good balance of protein, vitamins and minerals. In particular there should be a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus in their diet. Too little calcium or poor calcium uptake can result in several health issues, most notably Hind Leg Paralysis, of HLP. Most of the diets developed are a variation of the Leadbeaters Mix as a staple, and then additional fruits and vegetables. We use one called the Blended Diet, and our gliders have done very well on it. I wrote in an earlier post about how we started to see significant weight gain in the gliders when we had a feeding station for each of them. So, each night, M usually is the one who "plates" their dinner and places the glider kitchens in the cage while they are playing in the office or tent. Some owners just place the food, especially the fruits and vegetables, on the floor of the kitchen. The staple diet is liquid (about 1.5 teaspoons) and has to be in some sort of dish. Well, we found some nice "tasting plates" on clearance at a local Pier One Imports, and that's what we use for their fruits and vegetables.

Four dishes of Blended Mix Diet (top),
and the fruit (melon) and vegetable (bok choy) servings.

One dish of each is placed in a glider kitchen, and the kitchens are placed in the cage. Each kitchen (plastic storage containers we purchased)  has two 2.5 inch holes cut in the side for access.  Gliders like to play with their food, and they also tend to flick it around, so the kitchens contain the mess. They sure have made my life easier when it comes to cleaning the cage every week.

The kitchens are loaded and ready to be placed in the cage.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ivy Covered Walls - A New Cage Set

If you have followed this blog you know that M has made a number of pouches and cage sets for the gliders. The cage sets are usually seasonal, such as on for autumn, the holidays, winter, etc.  Recently she completed a cage set for the summer, a Cubs baseball cage set. We bleed Cubbie blue here and M has been planning this for some time. I thought this would be a good time to introduce it, a day after the Cubs won their first three-game series of the season. (Sad, I know.)  The cage set consists of three sleeping pouches, the "diamond", a "press box", and a vine covered wall. There is also a baseball ball pit, and M is working on an idea for a hanging baseball themed toy for the cage.

There is also a large lightweight sleeping pouch (not shown), which they have been using a lot in the recent hot weather.
Top:  the diamond, small lightweight sleeping pouch.
Bottom: Small sleeping pouch, the press box
Baseballs in the ivy covered wall.

The "press box" and the sleeping pouch.

A baseball on the diamond.

Foehn enjoying the friendly confines of the press box!

I'll post updated photos when the baseball toy is complete

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Checkup for the Youngsters

Yesterday was a scheduled wellness checkup for Foehn and CB. This was our second visit with Dr. Whitington at the U of I Small Animal Clinic - she saw Virga and Cirrus in February. The bottom line is that both gliders are healthy and doing well. Foehn behaved herself for the most part during the examination, which was a little surprising since she is the skittish one. CB was less than happy about the whole thing, probably because it was interfering with his sleep (and he does like his sleep). When his exam was finished and I tried to put him back in the pouch, he wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else apparently. He sunk his teeth into my thumb, and not one of those gentle "don't bother me" bites. He did go into the pouch with some coaxing, and it took about 20 minutes for both of them to settle down. M took them home while I stopped up to pick up some fresh vegetables for their dinner. They joined Cirrus and Virga in their pouch once back in the cage.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Big Snack Attack

M has cut back on the gliders' afternoon snack time for a number of reasons, including her schedule. Mostly, though, they tend to wake up earlier in the evening because they have had a full day of uninterrupted sleep. So, we have taken to giving them their mealworm snack after they are up and have been active for a bit. M usually brings in the mealworms, and Virga and Cirrus run to the door to greet her because they know she has their snack! When it's time to hand them out, all four gliders are beside themselves with excitement, especially Virga and Cirrus. It's a challenge sometimes to make sure they all get their fair allotment. The first round is always the toughest because they all want one at the same time. Most of the time they are good about waiting their turn. The last couple of nights we have split handout duties, each of us taking two gliders. That  works a little better for them. Once in a while one glider will grab another's mealworm if they don't get theirs fast enough. They all relish their mealworms, holding the big ones in their hand eating it like a french fry.

Here are the four of them on my leg waiting for the next round of mealworms.

M passing out their mealworm snack. CB was on the tree waiting for his.

CB stretches from his post on the tree to get his mealworm.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Early Riser

Recently there was a little change in our evening routine initiated by the gliders. Normally I take the gliders into the office for their play time around 9:30 p.m., usually when they started to stir in the pouch. It was a bit before 9:00 p.m. and were watching TV when we heard a noise from the cage.  It was Virga running in the wheel.  She stopped running when we came up to the cage, looked at us as if to say "What are you waiting for?" and resumed running in the wheel. A few minutes later, Cirrus joined her sister in the cage We figured at that point it was time for the office. Virga readily climbs on our arms for the short trip to the office. Cirrus does sometimes, but usually we have to gather her up to bring her in. CB and Foehn like the old fashioned (and more comfortable) mode of transport - the pouch. Since that night, Virga is usually out of the pouch and ready for playtime any time between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. Once in a while Cirrus is out first, but if not, she is not too far behind Virga. For a number of reasons M hasn't been giving them their afternoon snack, so uninterrupted sleep may have something to do with their earlier waking. One they are up and out I take a few minutes to get the room ready and get them some water. By that time they are all ready for 60 to 90 minutes of fun in the office.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weighing in on the Weigh-In

We weigh each of the gliders every week to monitor their overall health. Drastic changes in weight can mean onset of a health problem, just like in humans. Cirrus was a wisp of a glider when she came to us, just 59 grams. Her small size, for a 7-year old glider, was a bit of concern. This past October she reached 70 grams, a milestone for her. This weekend, Cirrus was 85 grams for the second week in a row! Despite her weight, she still feels small when you pick her up.

All of the gliders have been slowly gaining weight. Virga actually was dropping weight early this winter, and was down to about 82 grams in January. She weighed in at 105 grams this week. CB is 97 grams, up from around 89 grams in January. Foehn is the only one who's weight has remained fairly steady, 82 grams at this week's weighing. In looking at their weight data, it appears the weight gain began about the time we started using four "glider kitchens" in the cage rather than two. That gives each glider an opportunity to claim their own feeding spot and lessens the chance that any of them get shut out of eating. Prior to that we had just put in two kitchens, but with enough food for four. We're not quite sure why Foehn isn't gaining much, but on the other hand she isn't losing weight, either.

This a graph of the 4-week moving average of Cirrus' weight. The 4-week average smooths out the week to week weight fluctuations and makes it easier to see a trend in the data.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Sunday is weigh day, when we weigh each of the gliders and chart their weight.  So, today after breakfast I went to get things set up. Usually M coaxes them out of the pouch with some yogurt, and when they venture out I take them one by one in separate pouch to weigh them and then bring them back. When they all have been weighed, they get some mealworms and then head back to sleep.

The last step in prep is to get them from the cage.  Usually it's a matter of just unhooking the pouch they are sleeping in and bringing it in the office. There are currently three pouches in the cage, one large one and two smaller ones. I first checked the large pouch, and no gliders. OK, no problem...sometimes they split up and go in different pouches. I check the first of the two smaller pouches, and no gliders. I check the second, and it's empty. In a bit of panic I quickly check all the doors on the cage and thankfully they are closed. The only other place they could be is the boat on the bottom of the cage.  I reached in to check the boat and as soon as I touched it there was some crabbing. Sure enough, all four gliders were tucked back in the boat. This was a first for them - they always have slept in their pouch, or at least in a blanket on the floor of the cage.  So, I picked up the boat and brought it into the office. M called to them, and  four little heads peeked out to see what all the fuss was about.

The toy boat in the cage where I found them sleeping
Cirrus gets a few licks of yogurt while Foehn and CB peek out. Virga was hanging back.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cheap Fun

A week on the road and a week battling the flu has kept me away from the blog lately. There are a few new things going on with the gliders. Two weeks ago M was at one of her favorite stores, Big Lots, and picked up a strange but cheap cat toy.  It consists of a 12" plastic "fishing pole", on which is tied an elastic string.  At the end of the string is something that looks like a rabbit's foot with a couple of ribbons hanging out the back.  We used to have a feather thing that the gliders liked to play with but they pulled the feathers out of it.

This inexpensive cat toy turns out to be way more fun.The three girls chase "it" around and wrestle it, but CB is the fun one to watch. He is the hunter. He doesn't chase it, he pounces on it from his "hidden" position! He grabs with his teeth and front paws and hangs on. When I pull pack he tries to dig his rear legs in and hold on.  He eventually lets go, I toss it back in his direction and we do it all over again. All four gliders enjoy this and it gives them more interaction  with us and something more to do than just climb and jump in the room.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Our Glider Enigma

It's hard describe Foehn's personality, and one reason it has taken me so long to write this last "personality profile".

When we picked up Foehn and CB, Foehn sat in the pouch and crabbed and lunged at the sides of the pouch most of the way home, while CB snoozed away the whole trip. She was obviously scared,  Foehn has always been a little skittish, and we're pretty sure part of that has to do with their living conditions at the breeder's. If she wants to climb on you or be handled it's on her terms, not yours.  Yet, she readily bonded with Virga and Cirrus. Of course, she and CB get along very well.

Foehn is the "housekeeper". Sugar gliders don't normally relieve themselves where they sleep (i.e. their pouch).  When we first got Foehn and CB, CB would occasionally relieve himself in the pouch in the morning, mostly because they were still a little scared and uncertain and didn't want to leave the security of the pouch. Boy, would Foehn get on his case about that, hissing and "tsking" at him.  Virga and Cirrus also had the same problem the first month or two they were here, mostly because they were in an unfamiliar place, scared, and didn't want to leave the pouch.  When all four of them finally got together as a colony, Foehn was none to happy with a messy pouch. Fortunately, everyone got along well and Virga's and Cirrus' stress levels went down. So did Foehn's.

Foehn likes the security of her pouch. During play time she is content to sit at the opening of the pouch watching me or letting me pet her. If and when she's had enough petting she will give me a gentle bite on the finger to let me know. Foehn is very gentle and careful taking treats from our hand - she's almost dainty about it. She doesn't particularly like to be held, although once in a great while she will sleep in my hand. Sometimes, when she does come out with the others she will run to a dark corner and groom herself and stays out of the action.  Yet, when she does decide to join the the others running around she has no qualms about jumping on us and climbing up to our shoulder.

All four of our gliders have distinctly different personalities, and if we could not tell them apart by their physical appearance we certainly can by their behavior and personalities. Thar part of what makes them so interesting, and loveable.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More Fun

The gliders have continued to be rather active during "office" time, which has made it a lot more fun for me. I think part of their activity is because they were sleeping through the day without their afternoon snack. They were rested, more more importantly, they knew that they were getting mealworms once they were out and around. That always gets their attention!

One of their discoveries this week was the screens on the office window. Periodically one of them, usually CB,  has crawled up and down the screen n the past. CB likes to climb to the top and then (sometimes) jump off to me. This week, however, they were all on it at the same time climbing up to the top, then down to the bottom, and then back to the top. Part of the attractive might be that the window was open and a breeze was blowing.They had a pretty good time on it for awhile. Unfortunately, Foehn, in one of her more neurotic moments, managed to chew a hole in the nylon screen. The last thing we want is for one of them to open it up some more and decide to go on an adventure, so we'll need to keep that window closed when they are in here until I can fix or replace the screen.

The gliders' new climbing venue

Today was the warmest day of the spring so far (89°F) and humid, too. Tonight Virga was the first one on the screen. Several times I saw her stretched out, her legs and patagium extended, apparently enjoying the nice breeze the was coming in the window!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Playful Night

The last several nights with the gliders during office playtime have been very low key. OK, almost boring. Tonight, however, was a refreshing change.  All the gliders have been having a great time running and climbing tonight, even Foehn.  Lately she has spent much of playtime in a corner grooming herself, or crawling into a blanket and resting. As I write this three gliders are in the wheel, and one is on my knee - can't tell who it is at the moment - getting ready to jump off to the tree. I can't quite explain all of energy and activity tonight, but they have been going full tilt for over an hour now. This week they have not been getting their afternoon snack because M has been occupied with our 1 1/2 year old grandson who is visiting and she hasn't had the time. So, they have been getting long days of uninterrupted sleep. That's been the case for the past four days, but this is the first night where they have been this playful. In fact, it has been a long time since they have all been this way.  I wish I knew why, but for now I'm just going to enjoy it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Back to Normal

M said I missed a good photo op yesterday.  She had finished giving them their afternoon snack, and was sitting at the computer with the gliders in their bonding pouch hanging from around her neck. They were all settled in, and M was enjoying a cup of yogurt herself at the time. At one point she got caught up with what she was looking at on the computer and paused eating the yogurt with the spoon suspended above the pouch. A few seconds late she felt something and looked down. There was Virga with her head out of the pouch licking the spoon! 

After our little period of weirdness last week everything seems back to normal. The four gliders have been pretty active during their "office time", and they seem to have their appetites back.  All of them showed a small weight gain on Sunday's weighing which is encouraging.  Cirrus is now consistently holding her weight above 70 grams and has been a high as 76 grams.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Strange Days

We're not sure if it's the changeable weather, the full moon, or what, but there have been some unusual behaviors with the gliders the last couple of days. On Sunday night I had the gliders in the tent instead of the office for a change of pace. It has been some time since they were in the tent  instead of the office. Depending on their mood, I don't get the same interaction with them in the office as I do in the tent where there aren't many places to hide and they have to be near me. So, the first tent time in a while was a little new to them, but they seemed to figure things out in short order. They certainly remembered what the tent zipper sound meant, and they were on my arm in a flash when they heard it! (It means I am getting the pouch to take them to their cage, for dinner).

On Monday when M came out for their morning time together, she found two of them in one pouch, another in a second pouch, and another in a third pouch. We have had two and two, and three and one, but never "two and one and one" sleeping arrangements.

Tuesday morning when M came out, she found three in one pouch, and Cirrus actually sleeping in the wheel. M had forgotten to hang one of the pouches in the cage, but there was still a second small pouch. So, it was still a little strange that Cirrus was sleeping in the wheel. When M tried to offer her the pouch so that she could take them in for their morning yogurt treat, Cirrus refused to go inside. She climbed up M's arm and rode into my office on her shoulder. Once in the office, Cirrus ate her fill, but the others refused to come out until she was finished. Then they each came out, one at a time, ate a little and quickly jumped up M's sleeve, sticking their heads out two at a time to finish up. Cirrus did not go into the sleeve until the others had finished settling down. On Wednesday, while M was carrying them around in their bonding pouch, Cirrus actually was making what sounded like soft little crying sounds. They were all asleep when she checked, but they were definitely little crying noises.  Although they were sleeping together, Cirrus seemed to be on the outs with the other three gliders to some extent. When I went to gather them up at the end of playtime, she approached the pouch, saw that the other three were already in it, and then run off to play some more. I thought it first just might be that she wanted more time to play, but after the third time this happened it seemed more apparent that she was avoiding the others. So, I took the other three to their cage and came back and got her.
Another unusual occurrence is the fact that they do not seem to be eating all their food the last few days. There is much of their blended mix leftover in the morning and at least two of the four kitchens have fruit and/or vegetables left in them, barely  touched.Other than the eating, things seemed to be back to normal the last two mornings, so we are at a loss to explain it. M believes it's because I had them in the tent on Sunday, but I don't think so as they seemed to get back into the swing of things after just a few minutes in the tent..

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Big Snack Attack

M has a great story about afternoon snack time the other day.  I'll let her tell it.

Snack time (when they get some kefir and mealworms) was done for the day.  I went to put the rest of the meal worms we had bought the day before in the larger container we keep them in with some oatmeal for food. The gang had settled in their pouch and I was wearing it inside my shirt.  Suddenly, a little pink nose on a very black face sticks up out of the pouch. Virga waited patiently for me to give her a taste, but I just ignored her, sort of. Finally, she climbed to the top of the pouch, so I gave her one and she went inside the pouch.

A minute later, she popped back up.  I started to laugh and kept saying "Nooo, go back to bed." Well, she hung out on top of the pouch watching me, then crawled back into my shirt, behind the pouch, which I didn't want her to do The next thing I know, a little pink nose and very black face is coming out of my shirt, onto the table where I am sorting meal worms! Now, tell me they aren't smart! She knew just where to come out to be level wih the counter at the same place the meal worms were!  Yes, she got another one. I was laughing so hard and trying to get her back in my shirt. Only problem is, my finger tasted like meal worm so she kept trying to bite it! Too bad I couldn't get pictures of Virga coming out of my shirt to sneak another worm.

Earlier during snack time, Cirrus went for a walk around the office, which she does from time to time.  When it was meal worm time, she was over on the computer desk, so, I shook the scoop to let her know it was meal worm time and she jumped to the chair at the computer desk.  I held a meal worm out for her to come get, and she took a flying leap from the chair to my finger (about 3-4 feet), knocking off the meal worm in the process.  But, she must have figured my finger was still the meal worm because she latched onto it and would not let go until I got her to Berg's desk and could get her another meal worm!

Meal worms after this morning's weigh-in. Cirrus, CB, Virga, and Foehn (in the corner)

"Can I have another meal worm, please?"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Little Bundle of Energy

Cirrus is the smallest of our four gliders, and Virga's sister. She was only 59 grams when she came to us. However, it was Cirrus who rushed in to make sure all was well when Virga would crab, and, Cirrus is the first to explore new spaces and things. She really surprised M when she taught Virga how to climb up the pedestal sink when we first started taking them out for play time. She is completely fearless. Cirrus was the first to climb up to the shower rod during introductions last July and glide off and to the floor (although I always caught her before she hit). Cirrus is pretty easygoing, and she was the one that came around the fastest.  Until they "agreed" to live with Foehn and CB, Cirrus was the one who did all the socializing. Generally, Cirrus is the first one to stick her head up or out and see what is going on when we take the pouch out. She needs to see where she is going or who is talking to her. It is also obvious when she is sizing up her next attempted jump or glide.  Even though she seems to be constantly on the move when she is awake, occasionally Cirrus likes to curl up in the crook of my leg when I'm sitting on the floor. Once she is done grooming and settled she will let me pick her up and hold her in my hand, where she will usually sleep for awhile.

One of Cirrus' first feats was to climb up this porcelain pedestal

Her favorite activity is running in the wheel. She is usually the first to jump in the wheel at play time, and the last to leave the wheel in the morning. I didn't realize how much fun she had in the wheel until the other night. She was in the wheel by herself, and was running at full speed. When the wheel was going as fast as she could get it spinning, she stopped and rode the wheel around and around until it slowed down. She then started running to get the wheel spinning, then stopped and rode it. Cirrus did this several times, only stopping when one of the other gliders hopped into the wheel. It was a hoot to watch!

Cirrus is not as dark as Virga, and in fact may even have a little tinge of cinnamon color in her coat. Her dorsal stripe is not as defined as that of Foehn and CB, so she is relatively easy to pick her out in the crowd.  It used to be easy to tell her apart because of her size, but that has become a little harder. Her weight has increased a little over 20 percent in the past year, and she is consistently weighing in at or above 70 grams.She eats well as far as we can tell, and loves her yogurt and mealworms. As active as she is, she just probably burns off most of the calories she takes in.

Cirrus (r) is getting her licks of yogurt from M's finger.
Virga (l) is getting her licks in as well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Short Trip to G-town

While I was out of town on an overnight trip this week, M was on a little trip of her own - a guilt trip.  I did not get home until late Monday night, so M supervised the gliders' playtime.  Last night, however, she was pretty tired and decided to skip taking them into the office. Around 9:30 p.m. or so Virga climbed out of their sleeping pouch and was getting some exercise on the wheel. She heard M walk by the cage, and crawled back into the pouch. A few minutes later, Virga was back out on the wheel. When she heard M walking through the room, she ran back into the pouch. After this happened again a third time, M realized what was going on. When Virga heard her walking by the cage, she thought M was coming to take them out  for playtime and went back to the pouch for the normal trip to the office. M felt guilty, but the gliders did fine and they were very glad to have their playtime tonight

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Full Moon Fever

The full moon, this year the so-called "super full moon", occurred yesterday. There have been lots of observations and speculation on possible effects of the full moon on animal behavior. Yesterday morning I was up early to make my daily weather observation, and as it turns out, an animal behavior observation as well. Since I was up I let M sleep in and gave the gliders their morning yogurt. I brought them into the office in their pouch, and true to form Virga and Cirrus were first out to get their licks. A few minutes later I decided to fish Foehn and CB out of the pouch since they were fussing. Within a minute or so both Foehn and CB were running around the office like kids on a sugar rush! Foehn continually ran around the room, jumping from me to their tree to the floor and back again. Even when she landed on my leg she hardly broke stride. The two of them continued on like this for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Virga and Cirrus were having a good time in the wheel.  I have never seen Foehn and CB this "hyper" before. All four them wound down after about 20 minutes or so, and one by one they climbed back into their sleeping pouch that was sitting on a chair next to me. Even after I got them back to the cage, two of them were out again in the cage, one on the wheel. It was a while before they all settled down to sleep for the day, well past their normal "bedtime". At the time I was at a loss to explain the unusual morning behavior. It was only later that I realized there was a full moon, and that perhaps the morning activity was a case of "full moon fever".

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Year with the Ladies

One year ago today we brought Virga and Cirrus home with us. They had spent their first seven years with another family, and when the family could no longer give them the attention they needed they decided it would be best to rehome the gliders. We were fortunate to be the ones to adopt them.

It took four months before we were able to successfully introduce them to Foehn and CB, but it was worth the work and wait. All four gliders have been living together since then, and other than a few spats from time to time get along well. The "merger" was good for all four, but I think Virga and Cirrus benefited the most. They became more relaxed and definitely more sociable with us. They are two pretty happy gliders.

Virga (l) and Cirrus (r) having fun in the wheel

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Creature of Habit

Virga and Cirrus were rehomed with us after seven years with another family. The "ladies" as we call them, are sisters. We didn't quite know what to expect with them. They had come from a home that had over time acquired four cats, so they were pretty wary and skittish. Virga,  the largest of the two gliders, seemed to be the more scared of things than Cirrus. She would crab the loudest and assume a defensive position at times in their pouch. She would crab at the slightest noise, and we wondered if and when she would come around.

It is just about a year since they joined us, and the change in Virga has been remarkable. She is somewhat of a character but is a sweetheart of a glider. Virga likes to be around us. She is the only one of our four gliders who will readily climb on to your arm if you offer it.  When Virga is running around the office or the tent with the others, she is the one who regularly will climb up to your shoulder to make sure you know she is still there. She also enjoys being petted and doesn't mind being picked up. Virga is also more prone to be grooming us, letting us know we are accepted.  M has a bunch of "Virga hickies" on her arm as a result of Virga grooming her when the four of them climb into the sleeve of M's robe in the morning.

Virga absolutely loves her meal worms, and is almost always the first one out when M shakes the container to get their attention.  She is also very persistent when it comes to opening one of the plastic containers we put meal worms in. She will stick with it while the others run off to play. I think they have realized she will get it open eventually and will come and share in the reward when she does finally open it. She seems to have become a little more patient when it's snack time. It can get pretty crazy when four gliders want their meal worms and you are trying to make sure they all get their fair share! Virga does like her food, vegetables in particular. When I place them in their cage after tent/office time each night, Virga is almost always the first and only one to head for the food bowl. The others usually head for their sleeping pouch for a nap first.

She knows there are meal worms in there!

Virga has become my favorite of the three females. In the year she has been with us it has been amazing to see how far she has come and become the friendly, and I would even say affectionate, glider she has become. Of the four gliders, she is also the easiest to distinguish physically. We think she is what is called a black beauty, with much darker markings on her face and on her legs. However, it is her personality that really stands out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Buddy

While the markings on our sugar glider are often the most direct way to tell who is who, it is also easy for us to tell them apart by their personalities. They are all very distinctive. This is the first of four posts in which I'll take a look at the personalities of each of our gliders.

I think CB and I had a bond from the moment we left for home after picking them up from the breeder. I'm sure he didn't feel that way toward me at that time, but I knew he and I would hit it off. The day we picked CB and his sister Foehn up was an unsettling time for them. Foehn crabbed off and on during the long ride home. CB couldn't care less, and he slept almost the whole trip.  His name "CB" is the abbreviation for a cumulonimbus cloud, or thunderstorm.  He isn't the "stormy" type, though. I liked CB's laid back personality.

CB hanging out in my pant leg during tent time
He likes his sleep, and he will go to lengths to find a comfortable place to curl up.  Usually that is in my shirt (or M's). After only several months with us, when they had becoming more trusting, CB would crawl into my shirt during tent time for a nap. He obviously wasn't quite ready to play. While Foehn (and later Virga and Cirrus) were running around the tent, CB was curled up in my shirt just above the belt getting some more rest. After 20 or 30 minutes  he would usually find his way out and play with the others.  Sometimes, I think he does this to get a break from the three females he lives with. 

CB climbing out of my shirt after a 30 minute nap
While CB has an easy personality, he doesn't just sit back and watch the world go by. He will be two years old in May, not quite an adolescent in glider years. When he isn't sleeping he is usually pretty active. On three occasions he has gotten away from us and gone exploring. These little adventures might have been fun for him, at least for awhile, but they were stressful on us. One of these in particular was scary for us, and probably for him as well by the time it ended after a couple of hours. He hasn't gone exploring since this summer, when I inadvertently left the cage door open. Part of that is we are more careful and part is that he is comfortable with us and isn't afraid of our hands. Given the opportunity, though, he will take off.  He, like Foehn, doesn't particularly like to be held, but during those times when he doesn't mind he will sit quietly and let you pet him between the ears. Eventually, though, he gets restless and is off looking for something to get into.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Early Morning Antics

I was just becoming conscious of the news on the radio when it went on shortly after 6:00 a.m. this morning and was in that fuzzy zone between being asleep and being awake. I heard a noise like something hitting the floor in the kitchen, but at that point wasn't sure if I was dreaming it or heard it for real. When I was finally awake a few moments later, I figured I had better go check just to be sure. As I stepped out of the bedroom a single bark came from the gliders' cage. I flipped on the red light near their cage to see what was going on. Cirrus heard me and jumped to the front of the cage. At my feet was an assortment of plastic toys and doodads that had been in a plastic bowl atop their cage. I then realized what I had heard - it was the bowl falling off of the top of the 5 ft high cage. Cirrus had managed to work the bowl along the top of the cage to the edge where it eventually fell off. All of the gliders love to play with stuff sitting on top of the cage - it's a challenge for them.  The openings in the wire are one inch by one half inch, so they have to work at getting at what is ever there. So, I picked up the mess, and in the meantime Cirrus retreated to their sleeping pouch.  M was due to give them their morning yogurt licks, so I headed back into the bedroom to get ready for work. M was up and getting ready to head out to them and I told her what I had found. We were both amused about what Cirrus manged to do.

After getting dressed I headed to my office to get my stuff for work. When I got to the cage the same bowl that I had picked up 30 minutes earlier was on the floor with its contact scattered all over. I figured maybe M had dropped it. When I asked her about it, she said "I thought you had left it on the floor."  "No," said I, " I picked it all up and put it back on the cage."  Well, it didn't take us long to figure that Cirrus, and apparently also Virga, had managed to work it to the edge and knock it off again. M said when she came out they were both on the front of the cage looking at her like "What? We didn't do anything..."  They had to have worked fast, because there wasn't more than about 10 minutes between the time I left them and the time M came out.  Unfortunately I didn't have the video camera set up, but I wish I had.  They were certainly enjoying themselves!

This is what greeted me when I came out the second time
this morning. The smaller items were in the plastic bowl,
and the bowl was on top of the cage.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Checking Out the Ladies

M contacted me at work this morning after she had returned the gliders to their cage after their morning time together. She noticed that both Virga and Cirrus, our 8-year old gliders, both seemed to have something wrong with their pouches. The color was not the pink healthy color they should have been, and seemed to have some dried discharge. We were concerned that their pouches might be infected, and called the university small animal clinic for an appointment.

There was nothing else to  indicate that something might be wrong. Virga has had some loose poops at times, but otherwise seemed OK. All four gliders have been really active, and in fact last night as one of their most active nights. However, sugar gliders often try and hide their illnesses or injuries as a matter of self-preservation. In the wild a sick or injured glider is more susceptible to predators. Sometimes by the time you notice a glider is in distress it is too late. So, with all of this in mind, and the fact that the ladies were due for their annual checkup in a month, off to the vet we went.

Cirrus and Virga did very well during the exam, considering they were being handled by a stranger and their normal sleep time was being disrupted. The vet, who we had not been to before, was very thorough with the exam. She swabbed their pouches to check for infection or other problems. They also ran tests to check for parasites or other digestive issues (giardia can be a serious problem in gliders). After about 30 minutes the vet came in to give us the news.  There was no sign of infection in their pouches and the coloration and small secretion was normal. The tests and exam for parasites were negative. We were relieved that there were no problems and both Virga and Cirrus were healthy.

We really liked this vet, and we'll be making an appointment to take Foehn and CB in for their annual exam in the near future.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fun with Hearts

I didn't mean to go this long between blog posts, but what can I say?  Night playtime the last two weeks, with the exception of one night, has been in my office and not in the tent. All four gliders have a good time running and climbing. They can go an hour an a half like that on most nights. We also have a wheel in the room and it gets a good workout- three of them are spinning around in it right now.

This week they have enjoyed the challenge of playing "hearts", so to speak. M picked up some small heart-shaped plastic containers used for candy. She made a few small holes in the container lids. She has been filling them with about 6 meal worms each, and we put them out for the gang to try and open. It usually takes a while, but they eventually get them open for their reward. It is a hoot watching them try to get the containers open, wrestling it and pushing it around (as if that is going to get it open). When one glider is working on one, a second will often come over to help out.  When they do get it open, well, then often the others show up to enjoy the reward.

Tonight Virga was the persistent one. She stayed with it and eventually opened two of the containers. CB is usually the more adept one at opening them, but he wasn't very interested tonight. I did manage to get some video of Virga and Cirrus working hard to get one of the containers open. They eventually do, and either CB or Foehn (not sure which) joined them for a meal worm. We keep the light at a low level in the room, so the video is a little dark.

Virga works at getting a heart open for the meal worms inside

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shirt Tales

Now that the holidays are over and things have settled down again the gliders are back into their routine. M still gets up in the morning and brings them into the office for some yogurt and some exercise, and then gives them a kefir and meal worm snack in the afternoon. We really haven't done much time in the tent the last week because I've been letting them have the run of my office.  We put sheet on the floor and set up some of their toys. Once they get their evening treat, off they go. Well, at least three of them.  The last couple nights CB has crawled into my shirt for a nap, and seems to come out to play only when I'm ready to wind things up. 

They have also been spending time in M's shirt after their afternoon snack - all four of them. M usually wears a long sleeve cotton shirt over a long sleeve pullover and they are finding it very comfortable between the shirts. I'd take a photo but I don't think M really wants a photo of her looking like she is wearing an inner tube. Well, it's not that bad, but she does look pretty lumpy. The problem is that they don't always settle in one place, and move around her shirt finding a more comfortable place to settle down.  They seemed to be especially active today. There were a couple of exclamations for M this evening when she felt small areas of "warmth", shall we say, spreading on her shirt. So, we decided to start "office time" a little earlier. Right now CB is currently in my shirt starting think about coming out, Foehn is taking a nap in their soft-sided boat, and Cirrus and Virga are running in the wheel.. They have been going for well over an hour now, so it's about time for me to gather them up and get them back to the cage for their dinner and yet another nap. Ahh, the life.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Bridge in the Distance

I recently learned that my sister, who raises and trains horses, had suffered a second unexpected loss of one of her horses in a matter of less than two months.  The first was a horse she had raised, trained, and rode for more than 12 years, a horse she had a special bond with. This horse succumbed to a sudden infection. A few days ago she lost Snickers, a 9-month old filly, in a freak accident. I had a chance to give Snickers a scratch between the ears when I was there on a visit last summer when she was a little over a month old. She had a good temperament, was friendly, and a good looking horse. A twinge of sadness came over me when I learned of the accident, not just for Snickers, but especially for my sister because I know how much she cares for her horses.

Occasionally I read through the Real Stories forum on Glider Central. This is where members post stories about medical and other challenges with their gliders, or memorials for gliders that have passed away, euphemistically called "crossing the rainbow bridge". Many of the stories are poignant, and it's clear that the glider owners feel a real sense of loss. When I read these I sometimes wonder how I will feel when one of our gliders passes away - not that I am looking for that to happen anytime soon. We have only been at this a little over a year, but in that time these four energetic marsupials have definitely captured our hearts. We know their personalities and they pretty much know what to expect from us. They have bonded with us and us with them.  It will be a little difficult to deal with when they are gone. 

There was a time when I did not quite get why some people got as upset as they did over the loss of a pet. I had pets as a child, mostly what I call "look at" pets - turtles, chameleons, goldfish, etc.  We did get a dog when I began high school and she was terrific. However, after I left for college I spent little time with her and what attachment I had faded away as the years passed.  To that point I never had suffered the loss of a pet that I was really attached to. In the many years since, through the experiences of family and friends, I came to realize how pets can become part of the fabric one's life and family. That's where we're at now. I hope the bridge remains just a speck on the horizon for a long time.