He was found in his dead mother's pouch. She had been shot and left. A wildlife enthusiast, knowing I would care, brought him to me in a wheat bag. He was only about seven months old so he had nearly two months to go before his first pouch exits, and had to be milk-fed until he could learn to eat grass. I made a cloth pouch which I wore like an apron with straps over my shoulders and carried him in it day and night as his mother would until he was old enough to stop using it. Even then I still had to wear it for him, because young kangaroos need to put their heads into their mother's pouches until they're quite big - long after they're weaned.
I called him Nathaniel because he looked like a Nathaniel
, Truebrother because my main dreaming is western grey kangaroo and that makes him my spiritual brother, Boomerang because that was the trajectory of his first serious hops, Stench because he was, as all male western greys are, a master of Stench, generating a whole array of perfumes and stinks from his scent glands (mainly situated around his head and neck) depending on how happy or aggro he felt - sump oil when scared, hot curry when angry, milk chocolate when cosy and warm, chicken noodle soup when excited and happy. One of their common names is 'the stinker' because most people only ever experience their fear or fight pheromones, which are powerful curry/sump oil odours. Most of the time, they don't smell much - it's a communication thing, and it's only if they love you that you get the joyful chicken noodle soup and the blissed out milk chocolate.
Even long after he was weaned and well out of the pouch he stilled loved jumping into bed with me at night. Whenever it rained, he became very playful, and would hop about crazily in the pouring rain and then dripping wet, somersault over my head into the bed with me - just the thing on a cold winters night! I think he thought I was a kangaroo too, because I know he thought I should go out and hop around in the rain too.
He was incredibly affectionate and surprisingly intelligent. After all they are dependent on their mothers for two and a half years, which is a long infancy, and they are given a real solid up-bringing - mother kangaroos are very firm with their joeys. They are very respectful and learn very good social skills and manners. Their special ability is peace-making, which they practice a lot because they love play fighting. He loved travelling in the car with me and was very well-behaved, responding respectfully to my efforts to be firm. He loved music, especially the Fureys, and would demand it by dancing around me to the rhythms of their songs until I recognised them and put them on. I've only got a small caravan, and my dog at that time was Luke, a German Shepherd / Doberman who slept on my feet and who fortunately had not a jealous bone in his body, but entered into whatever I was doing. I loved this joey, so Luke did too. I also had a big old tabby cat who slept on my pillow. She mostly ignored Nathy, but objected to him coming in wet.
The wild kangaroos that come in to drink at the water we supply for them loved him. Most animals will show aggression to some unknown young, but these were very tolerant and he was able to play with their joeys, so it wasn't as unnatural for him as it might have been. The first time I saw him go out excitedly to meet his first wild kangaroo - a big male in his prime whom we called Big Ed - I was afraid that at the very least he'd have an ear ripped off or an eye knocked out, but to my amazement Nathy trembled, clicked respectfully, bowed low and the dear old dad bent down so gently and gave him a really nice hug, caressing him very gently and kindly. After that, he got an occasional whack from a snitchy mama, but so did all the others, so he was a happy little lad. If I ever needed to discipline him I had a handy household water spray, and used to give him a squirt with that. But he seldom needed it. Usually he would respond to the kangaroo peace-making gesture, which is to turn side-on to the aggressor and put both paws on the ground in an exaggerated charade of grazing - like saying "let's just graze side by side, and not fight".
When he was two and a half years old he reached the age of independence, and for a week he was super-affectionate to everyone he knew, hugging us and - I can only call it giggling (kangaroos do it too each other and it always makes me laugh so I guess it's what he's doing) and then one day he was gone - just gone. That was the ideal of course, that he should do just what a wild kangaroo of his age would do - hop off into the scrub well away from his moother's territory (to avoid incest) to join a band of young males which would be his friends for a couple of years until puberty at which stage he will be an independent male. I was worried at first that I would not be able to give him a natural life, but he was so undeniably happy (you could tell by the stench) that I don't doubt now that rearing him was one of the best things I ever did.
Here's my pet kangaroo (western grey), Nathaniel Truebrother Boomerang Stench.