Shugie is striking sealpoint Siamese second-hand doe. There are rescues and then there are rescues. Shugie has been granted full refugee status here at Dovetail, and she earned it the hard way, believe me. When Shugie came to us, she was suffering from festering fang marks over much of her body, a slew of broken ribs, acute dehydration and (not surprisingly) a rip-roaring case of PTSD.
Shugie spent over a week in a tank with a full-grown ball python. She survived by “pulling a full-blown Ripley on its serpentine ass,” as her rescuer, a budding rat fan, so eloquently put it. Sigourney Weaver would be proud. Every time the python grabbed her, Shugie punched its face and eyes and sank her own impressive teeth into whatever snakey morsel came within reach. Apparently the battle resolved into stalemate, and upon finally noticing the damage Shugie was doling out, the snake’s owner decided to rethink her policy on live feeder rodents, altogether. Why it took a week is beyond me. As a snake lover, myself, I understand that reptiles have to eat. But other creatures no longer need die in pain and terror for them to do so. It is unconscionable that Shugie went a week without food or clear access to water and in constant fear and agony while this python formulated its next move. Additionally, her rescuer reports that Shugie gave as good as she got, or better: I found out later that victim and perp ended up at the same veterinary practice after the battle.
Shugie’s rehabilitation has been a long row to hoe. Beyond her significant injuries, she presented with all of the classic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder: depression, isolation, rage, alienation, anxiety, and intrusive thoughts—from no provocation I could fathom, she would suddenly jump one of her cage mates and do her damnedest to tear her limb from limb. To this day, I must be very careful about waking Shugie suddenly or thrusting my hand (which, understandably, looks a great deal like a python to an animal with poor eyesight!) into her nest box. But Shugie is always visibly embarrassed afterward about her ‘Nam Flashback. My parents’ fox terrier behaved in just this way after he had been attacked by a pack of coyotes: for the rest of his life he would come up out of his sleep fighting for his life if he was disturbed in the dark before he knew fully where he was.
Beyond the need for a little extra caution, I find Shugie to be simply marvelous. Perhaps it is a result of the joie de vivre of the combat survivor, but Shugie exhibits a self-determination that makes her unique and engaging. She now adores being held. Her very favorite game is to burrow into a laundry basket full of warm towels. And I can hear her trotting away on the wheel well into the night as I drop off to sleep. The girl must trot a marathon each and every night, for I still hear her at it if I wake in the early hours. I rest easier, too: a group of girls can do worse than having a bona fide woman warrior ever alert for trouble. The cat, and even the dogs, stay well away from shugie!
*Note to reptile owners: Shugie would want you to know that every time you feed live rodents, the terrorists win.
Addendum: several readers have asked where Shugie got her name. Actually, it would more properly be spelled “Sugie,” since it is an endearment of “Sugar.” Shugie’s intrepid rescuer apparently muttered “we’re going to get you out of here, sugar” when he lifted her from the python tank by dark of night and just kept calling her that for the time he kept her hidden in his dorm room.Yes, that’s right, there was a bit of cloak and dagger involved in Shugie’s delivery from the Python’s lair–I believe our hero smuggled her out of the snake’s terrarium in his gym bag after a particularly rousing session of personal intimacy designed to stupefy the snake’s owner (his girlfriend) into a sleep state while he snatched the rat and made his getaway. I know, how very 007, right? He got one hell of a bite and a piddled-on basketball jersey for his pains–but as they say, no good deed goes unpunished. I kept the name “Sugar,” since her coat is the color of white sugar and her points the color of brown…which morphed into “Shugie” because one of my aunts is called that by her grandchildren. The joke between Shugie’s secret deliverer and me is that, had she been a boy, we’d have called her “Roger” to honor his choice of, ahem, diversion. ;->