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Mo Meets a Cougar

And Survives

by Linda First

Larry and Linda First
Mo Being Treated After Cougar Attack
Larry and Linda First
Mo Snuggling After Cougar Attack
Larry and Linda First
Mo Being Comforted by Dwaddy

Mo has continued to be such a blessing to us since we last wrote about him. He is now four years old and, to us, just a youngster that we love dearly.

Mo likes to wander out to his favorite cypress tree where he enjoys dust bathing. He often goes out by himself when my husband or I are inside our house in the northeastern woods of Alabama. We go to a window every few minutes to check on Mo when we aren't out walking with him. If Mo is outside, he normally is in his little cedar coop or fenced and covered pen. But the pen is on slab cement and doesn't let him get dirty and dust bathe. Because Mo loves this, we had the habit of allowing him outside without company.

All this changed Friday morning June 13. I had been inside doing a little housework while Mo went out for his dust bath. He was out a good hour when I got ready to take a shower. I knew Mo liked to come in and preen outside the shower door, as if he was doing the equivalent of cleaning up while I was! I checked on him often but he was so happy that I decided to go on to shower without him.

As I opened the shower door, I heard our precious pet crying out for help and knew without even seeing Mo was in big trouble. I tore out of the bathroom, banged on walls and furniture, and yelled at the top of my lungs as I ran.

As I got out the door, I saw the tan shorthaired back end of a cougar heading up the mountain. It was only a few feet off our driveway; the leaves of the woods closed quickly behind as he ran. I could hear Mo so I knew the cougar didn't still have him.

Mo came running in a split second up the driveway toward his coop. There he knew he would be safe. As Mo ran past me he acted as if he didn't see me. I scooped him up, held him, spoke comforting words, and I ran inside the house.

He was in shock, his back was featherless, and there was a huge gash down to the muscle. I was shaking with horror but managed to get the alcohol out of the cabinet and literally poured it into the wound. I repeated this several times and then called my sister to come take us to the animal hospital.

The first animal hospital turned us away, saying they did not treat chickens. The second hospital said they did not either, but they were willing to call to help us find someone who would help. No one would see Mo except one vet who was in surgery and could not see him until after 4:00 p.m., six hours later!

I was desperate for help and then one of the vets came into the Reception area and saw Mo across the counter. This compassionate vet examined Mo closely. The receptionist asked if she should continue to search for other vets. The vet said, "No. I am going to help him." \

The vet prepared a solution of Butadiene and distilled water, thoroughly cleansed the wound and surrounding tissue, and lifted Mo's skin as much as two inches away from the wound and irrigated it. When he was sure the contamination from the cougar's mouth was thoroughly cleansed, the vet applied an antibiotic cream meant for infected lactating cows. Mo got an oral antibiotic and we got cleansing solution, cream, and pills to treat Mo twice a day until the wound healed. We were to keep Mo in a cool place away from insects (preferably in our home!).

If this compassionate vet had not been willing to help Mo, I know infection would have killed Mo. When we were able to, we went to see an avian vet who had only commendation for this country vet and the treatment he gave Mo.

The first few days at home were the roughest -- Mo was so sick he wouldn't eat and I had to gently open his beak and make him swallow food and the pill. He drank fine from the beginning; that was good because I don't know how we would have gotten fluids down him.

But, as we treated him with the cleanser and the cream, he would lower his little head and close his eyes, only crying out if the pain was beyond bearing. Even then, he patiently lay back down, seeming to know we only wanted to help him. Do you think he did?

Mo will take a long time to completely heal -- the huge gash in his back from the cat's mouth made us wonder would he survive. Stitching up the wound would have made an opportunity for infection. But keeping the wound open made Mo vulnerable to bacteria and insects. My husband and I took ten days of vacation from work and church to keep Mo inside the air-conditioned house and away from insects. At night, my husband slept downstairs with Mo so he could be near Mo sleeping in "Mo's" recliner.

After keeping Mo in our home those ten days, we returned to work but wished we could stay longer. Last night we returned Mo to his coop and pen. In a week or two more, we are in great hopes Mo will be look back on this and say, "I licked it!"

What a little trooper Mo has been!

God gives us little blessings like a special pet rooster, Mo, to enjoy as long as He intends. I believe with all my heart that God healed this little rooster through a loving sister willing to drive to the nearest animal hospital and through two compassionate men like the vets. But it is His hand in Mo's life that saw him through. God cares about the little creatures.

Will Mo be allowed to go out alone to make his "rounds" of the house and his favorite dust bath? Not on your life! We'll be right there walking with him, pausing for him to dust bathe...or he simply will not go out!

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