Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dogs, Skunks and Bats, Oh My!


We have had a difficult week here in LanganLand. One of our dogs, Molly has been quite ill. I've gotten little sleep this week as she needs to be let out every 45 minutes, even through the night. And she is still peeing in the house about 5x a day. The poor thing. She is nearly 13 and has been having kidney troubles for quite a while. Her condition has been undiagnosed but getting worse. So I finally took her for a doggie ultrasound ($325!) and found out that she has Cushing's Disease. She is at the vet now for further evaluation so I will know more about treatment options by this evening, but apparently it is treatable. So the bladder control should return and she should be feeling much better soon. A huge relief, because I really thought she was nearing the end of her life: pacing, panting, crying all night, etc.

I realized yesterday that I needed a Halloween costume for my youngest by today because the Halloween Parade is tonight. I have come to resent Halloween because by the time it is over, I will have spent over $100 on costumes and candy (we usually have 180+ Trick-or-Treaters). $100 would feed my whole extended family for Thanksgiving or would be 1/4 of my kid budget for Christmas. So to spend this on Halloween, well it just annoys me. It is not even a real holiday. Anyway, the reason I needed a costume (I usually try to hand-down costumes as much as possible) is because my 4 year old son will be a dragon for the 3rd year in a row so I have no costume to hand-down to his younger brother. I put out the 411 to my friends and Linda came through for me with a hand-me-down skunk costume. I remember when her son wore it and it is SO DARN CUTE! I was thrilled: a cute costume, that I don't have to buy, that is also warm. Perfect. Except that my 2 year old son heard me say "skunk" and started to cry, saying, "I no wanna be a skunk! I wanna be a doggie!" So I told him he can be a stinky doggie and I plan to dress him in the skunk costume anyway. He has seen the costume and thinks it's a dog, so he's going to wear it and he'll think he's a dog but we'll all know he is a skunk. I will post some pics of all the kids in costume at the parade (unless it is rained-out, which is likely).

Let me start by saying that we live in an old house. You should also know that in the past 10 years, we have spent around $5,000 trying to eradicate bats from our attics and basement. I have seen many, many bats in my house. I know more about bat behavior than I ever hoped to know. Some day I may post The Bat Chronicles, detailing all (or at least many) of my Bat Incidences. But I could write a book on that so I will start with last night's incident and leave it at that for now.

Very timely to have a bat show up in our house so close to Halloween. Usually we get bats in our house in the late summer, most specifically during the first week of August. (I have no idea why they show up at this time, maybe they are over-crowded or its too hot in the attic or something.) We had only only 1 minor bat incidence this summer (early summer) so I held my breath through early August and when we didn't see any bats, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Last night I was sitting at the computer in the playroom and I heard a sound that was like a cricket but louder, sort of a squeaky sound. I looked up because the sound was coming from the curtain, right in front of the computer. Just then, I see this shiny-ish, black wing slip out of the curtain. I jumped up and started making my bat noises (the panicked sound that I make every time there is a bat sighting) and ran into the family room (adjacent to the playroom). My husband said, "What? You didn't see a bat, did you?" So explained what happened and immediately my daughters and my 2 year old son started screaming and running for the mudroom. My 4 year old son said, "Cool. A bat. Let me see it." So my husband, not believing me, went into the playroom to investigate. He wasn't sure it was a bat but couldn't really figure out what it was so he went to get some supplies: a rubber glove, a plastic grocery bag, a placement, a badminton racquet, a baseball cap and a flashlight. He tried to dislodge the critter (using the glove and bag) but it kept moving deeper into the folds of the curtain so he assumed it was a bat and went into bat mode. At this point I too went to the mudroom while my 4 year old kept saying, "Dad! Hey Dad! Can I help? Can I help you with the bat? I'm not scared of the bat! I'm a big boy, I'm not scared!" But I wouldn't let him stay so we went to the mudroom while my husband worked on getting rid of the bat.

If you ever have a bat in your house, the easiest way to get rid of it is to turn off all the lights, open the front door and guide it out of the house with a flashlight. As my husband was preparing to do this, I was in the mudroom with the kids, who were saying, "I'm scared!!!!" Except for my 4 year old. He was saying, "Hey, girls. Did you know that bats in America bite you and suck your blood? Because they do. Yes, they really do." I was trying to keep calm in the mudroom, telling the kids that bats do NOT suck your blood. They wanted to know how the bat got in and why it was in our house. I really didn't know. I've never seen one in the house at this time of year. Since my kids have Bat Fears for years, I have told them that once the weather gets cold, the bats fly to Texas or Mexico for the winter (I read this on the internet and have no idea if it is true but it works for me) so that they don't obsess about bats all year long. I explained that maybe the bat came in the house because all of his friends already went south and he had no one to "hang out" with (ha, ha) so he came in because he was sad that he had been left behind. They seemed to buy this explanation.

As I was talking to the kids, I was watching from the mudroom and I saw the bat fly out the front door, and boy did it have a large wing span! Like I said, I've seen lots of bats flying around my house and this one was larger than most. My husband said that it must have been near death because when he knocked it out of the curtain, it laid on the floor and didn't move. He scopped it up (placemat) and sort of tossed it towards the door and it took flight. (It's not unusual for a bat to die once it gets in the house. It doesn't have access to food or water so it gets really weak and eventually dies or we manage to get it outside just in time. It's much easier to get rid of a near-death bat as they have no fight in them.) Anyway, needless to say, I will be calling the Bat Removal Experts ASAP!

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