Blossom

I got Blossom on the 6th of August 2007 because I was afraid Tyler was dying and wanted a companion for Peppy as he is such a social skunk. The only time to get a skunk baby is summer so it was either now or next year. There are not many adult unwanted skunks... And obviously I don't mind the idea of having 3 skunks. ;-) Tyler is not keen on skunk companionship anyway so a friend for Peppy was a good idea regardless of what was going to happen or not happen with Tyler. I advertised online to look for another skunk and a girl from one of my skunk lists actually replied. She deals with exotics, sells them for the breeders. I'd wanted another boy but she only had a girl left. She comes from the south of England, sort of near Bournemouth, but was taking 2 skunks to Bristol so said she could meet us there at a service station. She had 2 girl skunks and one boy skunk with her, the other people were having the boy and a girl so we could choose between the 2 girls. One looked like Tyler, the other had white spots on her legs like Peppy and was more white like Peppy. Pete chose the one who looked like Tyler. I was going to call her Skye or Taylor but before we left, Pete came out with Blossom. He was only reading the honey jar I had left out. So of course I shouted "did you just say Blossom?" and he said yes and I thought that's a nice name, too. Do you remember the 90's TV series called Blossom? Anyway, so the name stuck. She's a very clever girl, within a week she was toilet trained , she learnt her name and came when I called her, figured out the cat flap and managed the stairs. She is sooo active but also so greedy. She spends *hours* looking for food. She's up at least 10-12 hours running around, looking for food. She gets 2 main meals and 2-3 smaller snacks. She looks like a tub on legs when she's eaten. She's just right regarding her weight, not thin but also not fat. We used to have loads of snails and slugs in the garden before she came, they all came out at night and you could see snails everywhere. But within a fortnight Blossom ate all the snails and the slugs soon followed. We don't have any now... She eats *anything*, any meat, any veg, any fruit. I had some ox heart for the ferrets and dogs and Peppy and Tyler would never touch that. She ate it. One evening I had a meat/ organ meat/ tripe/ veg mix for the dogs and I thought surely Blossom won't touch that. Wrong.

She bit a lot during the first month, if fingers smelled even a little bit of food, she would nip. When I cleaned toilets or did anything on the floor, she'd nip in case my hands were edible. When I held her, she got frustrated because she wanted food and would nip. But then she became much better. Stopped nipping when I did the toilets and I could hold her without her biting. She drew blood every time so getting nipped by a skunk is not a pleasant thing.

Greedy Blossom

Stompy Blossom :-)

Peppy and Blossom sleep together, have done so almost since we got Blossom. At first I caged her at night but then she acted up because she wanted to be with Peppy so after 4 or 5 nights I left her out. I'd also caged her because she piddled all over the floor but once she was free range, she soon became toilet trained. She only piddles on the floor a bit when she wants breakfast or dinner. ;-) But mostly uses the toilet. ;-)

Blossom in carrier with Peppy, looking into camera

Blossom and Peppy

Update 19/11/07

I think skunks imprint on food but Blossom is just plain greedy, I mean there's no way she would have got green tripe from her breeder and yet she eats it... A few times she came in from the garden and was throwing up some weird stuff so God knows what she'd eaten... Once Stripey brought in a dead bird and it wasn't his for very long because Blossom snatched it and ate it. And that after her big breakfast! I wouldn't be surprised if she became more picky with age, seems once they've stopped growing, they're not greedy to the point where they'll eat anything edible.



Update 21/11/07

Blossom was spayed yesterday. I watched it and took pictures. I was scared something would go wrong because Blossom has finally become a friendly, sweet skunky girl. She used to bite a lot, when she was hungry or when I was holding her and she didn't want to be held. When I did the toilets, she used to jump on my hands and bite them in case it was something edible. Whenever she wanted to get her own way, she bit. And then from one day to another she started coming for cuddles! At the vets I was cuddling her for an hour before the spay. Michaela just masked her, the spay took about 12 minutes and the stitching 12 minutes or so. Michaela now does inside stitches when she closes them up so it's all neat and tidy. It is such a small incision. Blossom is spending some time in an empty ferret cage, I'm surprised she's being so good and not tearing everything apart. I let her out for a few hours though but not when Peppy is up because he's quite rough with her, as in trying to mate, and he'll hold her tight... Blossom is only 1 kg! She is so tiny, I wonder whether she'll grow any more...

Still stomping ;-)

Update 04/01/09

Blossom has become a very cuddly girl and usually comes for cuddles morning and night like Tyler used to. It's wonderful to have a skunk do that.

Update 31/07/12

There is not really much to update on Blossom- except pictures. She is still my cuddly girl, she will come to me when I sit in front of the computer and put her front legs against my leg and ask to be picked up and if I don't pick her up immediately, she will bite my trousers and pull them. ;-) She is a skunk with attitude, when she wants her own way (like protesting against nail trimming ;-) ), she will still sometimes nip but very lightly. She will also at times stomp at me and I'm sure she would occasionally spray if she could. But all in all she is very sweet and lovely and cuddly. A perfect skunk! So I will add some recent pictures:

















What follows now is Blossom's last 3 months and a detailed report of her struggle with (end stage) "degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD) with congestive heart failure, tachycardia and myocardial failure".

01 May 2013

Update Friday 14/03/14

I don't know if Blossom is ill but I feel there is something quite wrong with her. I've just not come across symptoms like this before.

The early signs were that she became a bit quieter but they do change activity levels during the seasons so I thought it was still winter laziness. Not interested in going out into the garden or running around.

Then she became slightly picky with her food. They usually get some chicken that contains bone, gristle and meat. She always loved it but then just wouldn't touch it anymore. Instead she wanted chicken ribs. Or dry food. She started to eat more slowly so I even cut her veg up small even though her teeth are perfect, shiny white, all fine. Today she left some frozen veg when frozen veg has always been the absolute favourite. My skunks are greedy, they never leave any food, so this is a bad sign.

Then this evening I decided to pick her up to check her teeth *again* and the first thing I noticed was that her heart was thumping (when putting my hand under her chest). It was beating so fast and hard. Her breathing was also fast and hard with all her body/ abdomen moving. I picked up Sparky and I can barely feel his heart and when I hold him for a minute his breathing is barely noticeable.

I took some short videos of Blossom, the first one shows her breathing very fast when I first picked her up. The second video is a mix of fast breathing and the slowed down but breathing more deeply or harder version. The third video is not too good or maybe our Internet was acting up. Videos 4, 5 and 6 are all of her in a relaxed state, I tried to capture how deep and hard she breathes in, still quite fast but it's strange, like clockwork, mechanical, her whole body moves so much, don't know how to explain it. The videos are here.

So of course one thought is that she may have some sort of heart disease but my ferrets have always had different symptoms and the first symptom would be coughing due to fluid build-up in the lungs. Blossom does not cough and her lungs sound clear (I have a stethoscope). But maybe skunks have different symptoms with heart disease. I also thought of anaemia but her gums look pink. I will compare them to Sparky tomorrow though.

Blossom is just under 7 and my absolute favourite, just the other day I thought I cannot imagine life without my Blossom in it...

09 July 2013

Update Wednesday 26/03/14

Saturday 15th March I took Blossom to the vets, I don't like to make a fuss on a Saturday but was worried so phoned up and was told to come down. The vet was very worried about the fast heart and respiratory rate, could hear a heart murmur and some crackling (fluid) in the lungs. So Blossom was put on Benazepril/ Spironolactone combo and Furosemide. The vet wanted her to stabilise before she had any tests done.

Monday 17th she had an xray and heart ultrasound done and my vet didn't see evidence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which seems to often afflict skunks but instead thought she had dilative cardiomyopathy due to mitral valve disease. So Blossom was put on Vetmedin, too. I had been talking to people on the skunk list and one lady put me in touch with her vet and the vet said that the heart was *huge*. :( (I had taken a photo of the xray.) So far the heart and respiratory rate have not come down much, just slightly plus she does not breathe as hard. The skunk vet said I need to monitor the heart and respiratory rate so I used the stethoscope and counted her heart rate, it's supposed to be around 150 beats per minute, that first Saturday it was at 220 and when I listened to her heart it was around 180-200.

12 July 2013

Update Saturday 29/03/14

I saw the exotics vet, Mr. Jepson, in Haverfordwest yesterday (1 hour drive), he could not hear a murmur this time. He also did not want to do a heart ultrasound, he said he is an exotics vet, he is a skunk vet, but he is not a cardiologist. But as it happens, a cardiologist visits the practice on a Wednesday and they could book me in for the 9th of April at 10:00.

Blossom's heart rate was 240 yesterday, she was so scared. :( Part of me hates it that I have to put her through that again but it is the best I can do for her. I wonder how she acts completely normal when her heart is so huge and beating so fast...

13 July 2013

Update Sunday 06/04/14

I had a scare with Blossom last night, all of a sudden I heard her making a funny noise, it was half coughing, half gasping for air. I SO panicked. Her eyes were wide and you could see she couldn't breathe but no warning signs like coughing beforehand. No, she was in distress from one minute to the next. I managed to get some Furosemide into her, skunks are sooo hard to medicate, with ferrets you take the tablet, put a dollop of paste on it and they swallow it, no questions asked. Skunks? Clench their teeth together, then you manage to get the tablet inside the mouth, add some paste maybe, a drop of water, and they don't swallow at all. She was okay this morning, cuddling and eager to have breakfast. :)

Update Monday 07/04/14

Blossom is not eating, last night (Sunday) she was picky, this morning she would not eat. She was swaying from side to side as she was walking and every now and again her hind legs gave way. I don't know if this is from a low blood glucose or from the heart. I was crying all morning. My vet prescribed a small dose aspirin in case she is in danger of developing a blood clot. I bought a lot of liquid veterinary diets but my feeling is she won't touch those. I got eggs because she usually loves raw egg yolk, I got cheese, cottage cheese, even cream. Just hoping I can get her to eat. This morning she did not want her veg, not her meat, not even ground dog food with water and not even ferret and cat kibbles. Greedy skunk not wanting to eat is making me feel very sad and scared.
:(

Tonight Blossom got a plate full of delicacies, egg yolk, walnuts, blueberries. I put her meds into the egg yolk and thank God she ate it all! She also ate the walnuts but not keen on the blueberries. Not interested in kibble either. But it is a start and I am glad she had her meds.

15 July 2013

Update Sunday 13/04/14

I've had such a bad time with Blossom. She was finally doing better by Wednesday morning and then we saw the cardiologist and the whole thing stressed her out so much that she went back to not eating. It was a nightmare. She wouldn't even have egg yolk, I had to force some food into her to get her to take her meds. Thursday night she surprised me by going out into the garden for almost an hour, acting like everything was fine, and Friday and Saturday she's had a good appetite again. I had been doing huge portions for her so she would eat at least *something* and she ended up wanting to eat *all*. ;)

The cardiologist did an echocardiogram and showed me the result, pictures and videos, I think it was the left ventricle that was enlarged and one valve (mitral valve?) was leaking badly. So she is back on the Vetmedin and doing better. She also had a blood test, they took blood from the jugular vein while she was conscious. With anaesthetic skin gel and all. The vet explained that with heart disease the kidneys are not getting enough blood or circulation and that is what causes renal failure. I really thought Blossom was in renal failure with her not wanting to eat. But fingers crossed she's okay. The cardiologist upped her Furosemide to 2 mg/kg to try and get the heart rate down. I listened to everything so carefully so I would understand and remember but when you are worried and nervous you end up remembering bits of it only. I will get a report from the cardiologist so that will be good.

15 July 2013

Update Monday 28/04/14

I had a really really bad time with Blossom again. She stopped eating again and was staggering and falling over. I really thought this is it now and in a desperate attempt I increased her Vetmedin. She was on a low dose, same dose as Franklin who is almost half her weight. So I increased Blossom's dose and next thing I knew she was actually getting up by herself when it was feeding time and she had an appetite again. I don't know how long this effect will last but better than having her put to sleep during the next few days. :) I put videos of her on Google+ in case anybody wants to have a look. I'm just so glad she is eating again although she only wants egg yolk, nuts and veg, no meat, not even ferret, cat or dog kibble...

16 August 2013

Update Saturday 10/05/14

Blossom had a check-up with the cardiologist Wednesday and has been put on Digoxin. It is a syrup and she hates it. It is so easy to give meds to ferrets but skunks just *do not swallow* if they don't like something. At least this way it is very unlikely that she will ever overdose and have side effects due to toxicity... But obviously I want it to work...

20 November 2013

Update Monday 09/06/14

Blossom is bad. Last Tuesday 03 June she came down with an abscess in her mouth. :( Wednesday the vet got puss out with a cotton wool bud and I cringed at the pain it must have caused Blossom and I had to keep doing it to her. :(The tooth can't be taken out and she hated the first antibiotic (Antirobe/ Clindamycin) so Thursday I started with amoxicillin / clavulanic acid and Friday the abscess had reduced in size but I hate to think of the pain she has been/ is in. :( Thursday evening she was so weak, did not eat, she just lied down by her food. So I thought I'd take her to be put to sleep Friday but then Friday morning she picked up a little and ate some. Thing is I had mixed her Antirobe with her ground up heart tablets and sweet paste and she just foamed at the mouth and did not really swallow much of it so she didn't have her heart tablets for a day so I thought maybe she'll be better once she gets her heart tablets again- all of them, not just traces.

Saturday 07 June I upped Blossom's Furosemide from 2.35 mg/kg to 2.8 mg/kg and it seems to be helping. She gets this 3 times a day. At this moment I don't care about side effects of the drugs, I just want her to be as comfortable as possible. She has not got long anyway and at least she is eating again.

Over the weekend she has been much better, in the morning she eats, at night she does not. : ( Sunday 08 June I thought maybe the Digoxin is making her nauseous, it can happen when it builds up to toxic levels, I had already halved her starting dose and today I am skipping it altogether to see if she will eat tonight. I don't think she will be with us for much longer, I can't imagine her not being around...

I find skunks sooo hard to read and keep wondering whether to have her put to sleep. She often has bad fluid in her lungs where you can hear it with each breath. Even when you can't hear any fluid, she always has a fast respiratory rate. In my heart I think I should have her put to sleep- but she is eating? She is strong enough to walk okay?

25 March 2014

Update Friday 13/06/14

I had Blossom put to sleep today. Pretty much 3 months after I first noticed she was sick... The last weeks and months with Blossom were horrible at times. And the last week it was impossible to control the fluid in her lungs (has been for a long time really), it was audible and you could hear it with every breath and she was barely eating because breathing and eating could barely be done at the same time. The last week she was on 3 mg/kg Furosemide 3 times a day, did not help much at all. And every day I would ask myself if I should have her pts. Coming down with a root abscess just over a week before she was pts made her worse, too.

When I was at the vets (which was supposed to be just a check-up but then we decided she was in a bad way) all I thought about was her having trouble breathing and trouble eating with the breathing difficulties. And this way I at least did not break down at the vets although my eyes did leak, the tears just ran down my cheeks although I was not crying or anything...

I was still wondering whether I was doing the right thing having her put to sleep but when she was dead and I took her out of the cage, the fluid from her lungs came running out of her nose. :( And quite a lot...

Some animals, like Blossom, are very special because they chose to form a strong bond to me. I will never forget how she would come up to me, put her front legs against my leg to be picked up, and if I didn't react quickly enough she would bite into my trousers and tug at them to make known her wish to be picked up. ;) My Tyler would do that, too, when he was pts I was a total mess, crying until my nose was so swollen up that I could not breathe and I thought my heart was being torn apart. And both Tyler and Blossom would snuggle real close with their heads on my shoulder by my neck and then they would keep sighing and smacking their lips which means contentment...

Update Friday 10/08/14

Now that I have finished this page and Blossom's story, I look over the web page and see some of the very first photos of her and I can't believe it is all over, almost 7 years with her and it's over so quickly... My little Blossom girl, a skunk with attitude...

Happier times 24 December 2013