Today I pay tribute, far too soon, to my bonded glider, my rider, my friend, my comforter, my little love, Ren. This is one of the most difficult posts I've ever written because Ren was very special.
|Ren Snuggling Grandma Pear...Astrid below|
If you have seen me over the last 3 years and asked to see a glider, there is a 99.8% chance, I pulled out Ren. Ren is the one you took pictures of, or ran up and down your arm, she is the one that dove in your shirt, or sat quietly in your hand, usually squirming to jump to me and crawl back into my shirt to nestle down in her home.
|Ren riding on me...as she did every day.|
As many of you know, I have a damaged central nervous system that has caused a severe nerve condition. When I go out in public, it is harder than most people realize for me. I stress over having brain fog that prevents me from putting my words together easily, I quickly get nervous in my surroundings and am always dealing with a level of pain that makes it difficult to move on most days. Josh and my family are always there for me but often, I felt so alone sitting in my chair, but then Josh found gliders. All gliders are wonderful in their own way but sometimes, once in a while, you find a special glider that steals your heart. I have a few of those, even now, but the one that was mine, the one I spent nearly every single day with since October 2016, was Ren. When Ren was nestled in my shirt, feeling her breathe and move, signaling me when she needed to go potty or wanted a chip, I felt strong enough to handle the world I had to be a part of each day.
Ren getting Belly Rubs from Victoria.
When I was sick, Ren would lay with me in bed, never needing a pouch, she just stayed nestled beside me with her head laying on my hand or arm. When I would look down, she would always be looking at up at me, checking on me. When I moved, she would balance on me while I got settled and then nestled back into me. We were bonded, she was bonded to me and I was bonded to her.
When we got Ren, she had been weaned at 4 weeks, far too early. They had put her on regular food so they could profit from her quickly which was too hard on her system. Ren was dirty, had an odd color to her coat and was very skinny when we first rescued her. We had rescued Ren for a friend, but it quickly became obvious Ren needed more care than a new owner was able to give. And, so it was destined, Ren was to become a part of me.
|Ren was tiny and very rough when we got her.|
|She was precious but tiny and weak.|
When we got Ren back, she had to dropper fed every few hours to keep her going in the first few weeks with us. She would only take food from Josh at first. He was her Daddy. She cried so much as a joey. I would hold her all night, then Josh had to wake to feed her in between sleep. She needed a lot of care up front and there were times we weren't sure she would make it, but we never gave up.
|Ren was a Daddy's Girl as well...|
As she got stronger and was ready for solid food, we moved her to Josh’s Glider diet which has proven over and over again to give our gliders everything they need and has been approved by multiple Exotic and Zoo-Centric Vets, including the Vet School at CSU who has used our gliders in their classes as healthy specimens. We have seen miraculous recoveries with our special need’s gliders, but when damage has been done in gestation, it is like trying to hold back a typhoon, you can hold back the waters for a while, but rarely can you completely stop the storm.
|Ren getting stronger.|
Ren had a rough start, but after working hard on her recovery and diet, she seemed to be thriving, she had gained good weight and the color fading on her coat began to correct to its proper gray…that is, until early this year. We noticed her coat began fading again so we took her in for exams and bloodwork but nothing was found. Her coat continued to look off and she began having a little weight loss, so we started her on an enhanced diet and she seemed to be holding her own. We felt it was just a dip in immunity for some reason as the tests kept coming back negative. In the end, Ren saw 3 trained and experience Exotic Vets we trust, but still, nothing was diagnosed. During the last couple of days, Ren began having an intense climbing response, she wouldn’t stay in my shirt and was moving almost non-stop. This is was not normal for Ren and is in indicator something is very wrong internally. The Vet was monitoring her but very early in the morning on February 28th, she fell in her cage, injuring her tail, we think from a seizure. We rushed her to the ER at CSU Vet but the tail wasn't the real issue. In the end, Ren passed quietly, on my lap, covered with my blanket, like we sat many an evening, safe and secure and filled with love. As for me, I have yet to stop crying.
|Ren loved Chips.|
We believe Ren had Nutritional Dystrophy. Due to her parents being part of a backyard breeding program and having a nutrient deficient diet, and Ren being weaned at 4 weeks, far too early to be taken from her Mama. Ren had been put on a soften kibble when she should have been on mother which caused damage to her internal organs that were still forming. Just because a joey can come out of the pouch, does not mean they are fully developed. Joey’s need to be on mother until mother decides it is time for them to come off. Pulling them too soon risks their health in the future. To see this done for money is so upsetting.
|The joy of climbing on Dad's work phone.. Ren.|
In the end, we had 2 ½ years with Ren. I was hoping to have 15 years, but I am so grateful I had her for whatever time she could give me. Keeping Ren on a solidly nutritious diet with proper supplements especially for marsupials, gave her a good life for the time her internal organs could keep up, unfortunately, Nutritional Dystrophy can lay silent for a few years before suddenly taking life.
|Acia Yoggie Chips were the best!|
I have other bonded gliders, gliders I love and who love me but Ren will always be special. She knew my moods, she would kiss away my tears when I hurt so badly I would cry myself to sleep. When I lay in the dentist chair, she would kiss my hand as I held her there, I felt comfort. I never feared her making noise when we were out, she was stealth, she never came out of my shirt or went on walkabouts. She was the perfect rider. She was my rider.
Gliders bond with you but to truly have a relationship with your glider, you have to be willing to truly bond with them. As rescuers, we don’t go and find lineage lines. We don’t ask for family history and vet reports, we take them at face value, knowing there will be some that will not be long in this world. It is difficult for me to write this memorial to my baby because I haven’t stopped crying since March 1st, close to midnight when Ren passed. She came to us with issues but we gave her hope, and she gave us love.
Ren eating her Acacia Treat on Mama. Precious girl.
So many of you knew Ren. She was your first introduction to gliders. She is the one I would hand you with no fear of a nip or escape. If you were at Estes Park Wool Festival or Yarn Fest, you probably saw Ren, you may have even held her or posted a picture of her, some of you tucked her in your shirt in a taco pouch and held her at meetings. That was my baby girl. She gave you love and showed you just how wonderful a Glider could be…that was Ren.
Now she is with our other babies who have gone on ahead. When Ren was strong enough we gave her to Grandma and Grandpa Pear who were rescued from a breeder facility and had every joey they ever bore taken from them. They were depressed and we weren’t sure they would make it but when we gave them Ren, it gave them a new purpose in life, they felt like they got one of their babies back and the 3 of them formed a clan who then took in all of our special need’s gliders. The Pears are our calmest and most loving clan. Grandma went on to Glider Heaven last year from old age, so now, Grandma has her baby back. Ren and Grandma are together again.
|Grandpa Pear and Ren...she was a Daddy's Girl.|
Every time I feel this pain from losing a glider, I never imagine how I could go through this again. This time is especially bad as Ren and I were so close, but then I remember, if we didn’t rescue, what would their little lives be like? If we didn’t take Fensilar, with his tail broken in 3 places and his broken foot, what would his last days have been? He probably wouldn’t have lived those last few months waiting excitedly at the bottom of his little home for the delights of all the fresh organic food our gliders are fed each evening. He wouldn’t have had other gliders to talk to and play with and wouldn’t have felt warmth and safety, and he probably wouldn’t have passed quietly, nestled on my tummy, warm and loved with me signing to him and stroking his fur. That is why we as rescuers are willing to take this pain of loss.
|Ren was Papa's Shadow. She followed him everywhere and he taught her like good Sugar Glider Daddy's do...to glide, to run in the wheel, how to eat worms, to scent their home...and how to love.|
If we don’t do this, take on the injured, the elders, the special needs, the rejected, the ignored and hopeless…then what kind of life would they have? Ren’s legacy is love. All the love she gave me and my family, and all the love she gave all of you! For a little life taken far too soon, she gave more than enough love for a lifetime! As I laid her to rest, all I could say was thank you. Thank you for all you gave me and for being my support. Rescuing can be devasting and painful but in the end, it is we that benefit. We are the ones that receive the love. They become our support. That is what rescuing does to your heart.
|Sleepy Day.... Ren while on Daddy.|
Rest for now, Ren. One day we will be together again. You touched so many lives and will be remembered by so many. You were an ambassador of love and will never be forgotten!
I love you, baby Ren…..Mama