Pet ownership is not for everyone. For one, they are an investment of both time and money. If you have thoughts of acquiring a pet for snuggles and companionship…think again and instead, realize that sometimes snuggles come at their schedule, not yours…like 2 am when your Rottie decides that they feel lonely and need a tummy scratch…not that I would know personally.
The other reason that many people decline the unconditional love of a pet is that unless you are purchasing a tortoise or a parrot, you are taking on a sentient being whose life span is guaranteed to be less than your own. And we all know, losing something we love is the hardest part of the journey. Taking that on intentionally for many is a clear no thank you.
Our family though seems to revel in chaos, appreciate financial ruin, and subscribe to the delusion that our animals will live forever.
Our first inkling that something was wrong came from my daughter. She is attuned to the behavior of birds in a way that I will never be. Initially skeptical and thinking privately that she may suffer from some histrionic tendencies regarding bird care, I have learned never to question her intuition when it comes to birds. Now, the question has gone from “Is it really necessary?” to “Where do we take them and when?” The latter was my question when she came to me indicating that Pie, her lovebird, had a case of tail bobbing which had her quite worried. Vet visit made and attended, and we came home with the requisite antibiotics.
For a week, antibiotics were administered faithfully with myself acting as a veterinary assistant. If you never administered antibiotics to an unwilling patient, you are missing out. I have had the opportunity to develop a sense of finesse and timing. Successful dosing would result in Pie rubbing his beak on the bars of his cage trying to get that taste out of his mouth. Unsuccessful dosing would lead to us having to gently wipe his head with a soft cloth. After a week of medication though with my daughter educating me on bird behavior, I noticed that he was not doing so well one day while she was at work.
We are fortunate here in the Fraser Valley to have a world-renown avian vet in Vancouver, an hour and a half’s drive from our home. An appointment was made, and Monday found my daughter, myself, and Pie heading towards the big city for a visit. After a thorough examination, the verdict was made that Pie had been exposed to a toxin. He needed to stay for treatment.
Now birds as I have been educated have very sensitive respiratory systems. Our household has been banned from purchasing many a product based on my daughter’s birds. My son and I had to research heavily to find an acceptable frying pan…no Teflon allowed. Scented candles are quickly snuffed out or my daughter barricades herself and pets in the bedroom if I light them. Cleaners in her room are comprised mostly of Dawn dish soap. My daughter recently ordered wall paint from the States as it was guaranteed to be non-toxic to birds. We are acutely aware that if we do anything that creates a possible respiratory issue for the birds or guinea pigs, doors need to be closed, and the house ventilated.
Hence, we were shocked to have that come back as the diagnosis…and the prognosis was guarded. Sitting in the car while my daughter paid the bill, I suddenly remembered something and dashed from the car to my daughter. “It’s mold,” I said.
We have old windows in our home. They need to be replaced, but our house requires much TLC so this wasn’t one of our priorities. As a result, every winter our windowsills become water collectors for condensation. This winter has been exceptionally bad with my son coming to tell me that he had water dripping on his head while he was sleeping…inadvertent water torture (his bed is against the window). We try and stay on top of it by making sure there are towels in the sills or we wipe them down often. We have never had an issue with mold though.
The birdcage resides close to the window of my daughter’s room so her birds could have a view of the feeder and enjoy the other birds…which they did. The cage is just high enough to cover the windowsill, and the temperature of the room is warm due to the birds being tropical...a breeding ground for mold. There was a towel across the window so we assumed all was fine. Until I spotted the patch of mold right where the towel ended through the bars of Pie’s cage. Making a mental note to get my daughter to deal with it, I didn’t think anything else about it until a day later when the discussion turned to toxin exposure.
Four days later, we were called in to see Pie. We assumed that he was doing better, and we would be taking him home. My daughter had called several times to get an idea of how he was doing, but due to understaffing and busier than usual vet office, she only received a cryptic call back asking her to come in. We were both concerned.
Entering the examination room waiting to see the doctor, we saw an incubator cage with Pie inside. He was sitting close-eyed at the back, barely acknowledged my daughter’s presence, and seemed to be shivering slightly. Our hearts sunk. He was worse.
My daughter started to cry, realizing that she was being called in to make a life decision. For 20 minutes, we both mourned little Pie, and my husband was included when he called to ask how Pie was doing.
After about 20 minutes, the vet entered and said seriously…”What do you think?”
My daughter with tears rolling into her mask said “He’s worse.”
The vet looked confused, turned the cage towards herself, and said, “No, he’s better. He must not like the fluorescent lights.”
My daughter went from despair to joy in a nanosecond.
The vet went to explain that the treatment was working and that Pie would have to stay longer, but that she felt it was good for their recovery to have visits from their owners. She encouraged my daughter to take Pie from his cage and just spend some time with him. An ecstatic young lady opened the cage, extended her hand and a closed-eyed lovebird stepped into her palm.
You have never seen a happier bird or girl. For the next 20 minutes, I watched the pair of them just be together. Pie would not leave the palm of her hand and just gazed around, and my daughter just gazed at Pie and happily held him. When the vet returned, she looked pleased with the pair of them, especially when Pie put up some resistance to being put back into his incubator by jumping back on my daughter’s hand every time she tried to put him on the blanket.
I am all about seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. It’s what my whole blog is about. But there are exceptions to every rule. And for this moment in time, I was ever so grateful to see an extraordinary moment return to ordinary…from heart-rending despair to a girl and her bird hanging together.
I am glad they don’t happen very often though…my heart just can’t take too many of those.
It has taken awhile but I certainly do know it now - the most wonderful gift I had, the gift I finally learned to cherish above all else, was the gift of all those perfectly ordinary days.
- Katrina Kenison