Stanley is a bashful, young, and energetic hedgehog with only one eye. Yet despite his newfound disability, he is determined to win the Hedgehog Olympics one day. Stanley prepares for his victory by running vigorously on his exercise wheel all night long and bolting around his new home at lightning speed. He is, by all means, a hedgehog with one eye on the prize. But this doesn’t mean his disability hasn’t come with some challenges and setbacks.
Stanley’s Eye Needed Help
When Stanley came to our Pet Resource Center in Murray, his eye was horribly infected. A cat had attacked him, and his guardians couldn’t afford to take him to the vet. After an urgent assessment, our medical team discovered that Stanley’s eye needed to be removed immediately. So, we rushed him to our partner, Mountain West Veterinary Specialists, an organization specializing in exotic pets, for emergency surgery.
Fortunately, Stanley’s surgery went well, but he had a tough road ahead. He required antibiotics, a quiet and safe place to heal, and careful oversight of his sutures. Because of this, our staff was overly cautious about his adoption process. Our team wanted to ensure Stanley fully recovered and didn’t go to another home with pets where he could potentially be injured again. So, he went into our Foster Program under the care of our Humane Education Director, Caitlin Lisle, who is skilled with hedgehogs and could appropriately screen adopters to ensure he went to the best home possible.
Fostering a Hedgehog
Caitlin fostered Stanley for eight weeks, and during that time, he retreated from human contact and acted like he was in pain. Caitlin shared, “He seemed to not only be in pain from his injury but traumatized, too. I wanted to help him feel safe around humans, so I spent a lot of time holding him and hanging out with him. I went slow with this process, so he wasn’t overwhelmed.”
With Caitlin’s support, Stanley recovered quickly. She continued to screen potential adopters for him but still hadn’t found the right person who could meet all of his needs. “A lot of people want to adopt a hedgehog because they think they’re cool or unique. But we have to make sure potential adopters have done their research and know what type of care they require. Hedgehogs have a lot of special needs and require a lot of patience because it takes time for them to warm up to you,” Caitlin informed.
Finding the Perfect Match
Then, Samantha, a woman from Idaho, reached out to adopt Stanley. Samantha had lost her hedgehog one year previously due to old age and was ready to rescue another. She’d seen Stanley’s too-cute photo and bio on our social media and was head over heels for this one-eyed, shy guy who needed a safe home and loved running, snacking, and burrowing. Since Samantha had extensive experience with hedgehogs and no other pets in her home, she knew they were meant to be. After successfully going through our adoption process, Samantha made the six-hour trek from Idaho to bring Stanley home.
Those first few days with Samantha were difficult for Stanley. He spent most of his time hiding fearfully in the corner of his cage and refusing treats. Finally, Samantha explained, “He wouldn’t even eat a worm from my hand. But over time, he started to become curious and open up.” Fast forward several months, and Stanley is now thriving. He no longer hesitates to munch on a worm from Samantha’s hand or falls asleep in her arms. And his fearful behaviors are practically non-existent.
“He’s the best boy, just perfect!” Samantha shared. “I am so proud of him; he’s come so far and is getting more curious and adventurous with each passing day. He seems very happy and comfortable with us and is full of sweet little chirps when exploring the house or climbing all over us. He’s quite the runner and determined climber, hah! My little Olympian who is forever determined to take home the gold.”
Samantha continues to update Caitlin on Stanley’s progress, and these updates bring tears to Caitlin’s eyes. “I love hearing that Stanley is finally coming out of his shell. And it makes me so happy to know that I helped bring the two of them together.”