George came into our lives on a sunny day. He was a sad soul in the beginning, probably due to his first few weeks in human care. What happened to George's mother is not clear, but he had been picked up by a family who knew nothing about wildlife care. I suspect he had been in care for quite some time and had probably just out worn his welcome.
He came to us lying flat in a cardboard box. I was told by the lady who dropped him off that she thought that was far more comfortable than being bent up in a pouch. I am gobsmacked that so many people think they know better than nature. Anyone who has seen a joey in a pouch knows this is the way they were designed to be. They don't lie flat on the ground until they leave their mother's pouch. I suspect George had been made to do this for quite some time and that had caused him to become quite subdued.
Clearly George was distressed and hungry. He was 3kg in weight. He was also gorgeous!
He reminded me of Buster when he first arrived here and I hoped he'd settle in as well. (Merrilyn Part 4 - Buster Arrives). He did settle in and loved his pouch, took to the bottle well and soon his personality and love of life shone through.
He and Blossom became great pals. (Merrilyn Part 23 - Blossom).
Of course, as you've heard in Parts 23 and 24, where Blossom was found, Merrilyn was too, and so a new "three musketeers" developed.
I was pleased with George's growth, he was nearing 4kg, but one morning, when he hopped out to go to the toilet, he started to hiss. I knew this meant pain. He came back to me and seemed fine but I watched and waited and when he next went to empty his bladder his distress was clear.
I had heard of male kangaroos getting crystals in the bladder, but had never experienced it before. There had been no warning signs such as the strong smell of urine and I'd seen no colour. I rang a couple of carers and they suggested the vet was the best option. Taking a joey to the vet is a traumatic experience for the joey, so isn't taken lightly. I didn't feel I had a choice though as a total blockage could mean a burst bladder and death.
By this time I had a favoured vet for kangaroos. I'm not going to name him, but he is an excellent vet. Vets in Australia very often give of their time freely to help with wildlife rescues, but they have no formal training in wildlife care so they learn with you about what may or may not work. The vet took a look and questioned me about the symptoms and decided that yes, crystals were probably the issue. He tried to pop a tube through using just local anaesthetic, but it seemed things were almost totally blocked. The only option to clear the problem was surgery.
Putting a joey through an operation is also not lightly done and I wondered if I should subject George to it. I couldn't leave him in pain and at risk of death, so my only other alternative was to have him humanely euthanased. The vet gave me some time alone to think. As I stroked George's soft grey fur I knew I simply had to give him the chance to live. Had it been a badly broken back leg I would have euthansed him without hesitation. A male kangaroo with any kind of weakness is liable to suffer a horrible death, but George was young, this was internal, the vet assured me it was a simply operation and that he should recover quickly.
The vet was happy for me to be in the room as he operated and he explained what he was doing. I really couldn't see George as he was covered in the light green sheets they use for operations, with only the section the vet was working on exposed. Opening things up was easy but still the vet didn't seem able to clear the blockage. Things were taking time and I was beginning to worry, especially when the vet stopped explaining what was happening. He asked the nurse to bring him warm blankets as George was losing heat, but it was all too late.
He looked up at me with sad eyes and told me George was dead.
Whether it was the bladder blockage, or the time it was taking and George losing his body heat, I don't know what the cause was and I don't think the vet did either. What had caused the blockage? What had the original carers fed him? Had it been quite weak and the proper animal milk been too rich? It was pointless speculating.
Something in me had to touch George and so I put my hands under the green sheets to stroke his body and say goodbye. I accidentally put my hands where some of his bodily fluid had leaked out and reluctantly withdrew them as I knew I should wash them straight away. The vet gently wrapped him in a blanket and offered to look after the body. I thanked him but said I'd take him home.
I cried the whole way. Holding and stroking the blanketed body. Merrilyn and Blossom were not far away and came over to greet us. They must have missed George, but the blanket seemed so foreign and they didn't know what to make of it. Merrilyn reared back and hopped away. We buried George under a tree that he had taken to lying under for the past week and I cannot pass the spot without whispering hello.
Rest in peace George. Your life was short, but you are not forgotten.