Archive for April, 2011

Goodbye Kiwi

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Sadly, I put my 8.5 year old budgie to sleep this week­end. He was a won­der­ful bird and will be missed dearly. I adopted him approx­i­mately 8 years ago. I was prac­tic­ing in in Vir­ginia for a few months when Kiwi (not his name at the time) was brought to the clinic with a bro­ken leg. His vet dis­cussed options with the owner but they could not pro­vide the care he needed so they opted to release him to the clinic. The vet splinted his leg and I offered to adopt him. I always have a soft spot for bud­gies, espe­cially green ones, since that was my first pet as a child. So I excit­edly took him home in an aquar­ium, his leg splinted and was excited about my new friend. I didn’t tell my boyfriend (this was before we were mar­ried) that I adopted the bird. I enjoy sur­pris­ing him with things like this and he took it very well. The name Kiwi was his idea as I have a ter­ri­ble inabil­ity to come up with great names. Since Kiwi was still a juve­nile, his leg healed very quickly and I was able to remove the splint after four or five weeks. He was a per­fect pet. Although he didn’t say words, he made a mean wolf call and could mimic my tele­phone ring per­fectly.  He chat­tered all day long and he had a very inti­mate rela­tion­ship with some favorite bells and toys. Since mov­ing into our house a few years ago, Kiw’s per­ma­nent res­i­dence was in our bed­room. My hus­band hung a shelf for him that was fairly cat proof and Kiwi enjoyed com­pet­ing in vol­ume with the TV. But he alwas knew when it was bed time and would stop play­ing and chirp­ing once the lights went out. His favorite thing was bath time. I would run the water in the sink of the bath­room on a light stream and he would hop in my cupped hand and rub him­self in the water and under the stream. Then he would hop on to the edge of the mir­ror and talk to him­self, admir­ing his wet feath­ers. He was a real looker.

I was always amazed at how he stayed in such good health. I had got­ten into the habit the past few years of exam­in­ing him every few weeks. Bud­gies have a propen­sity for tumors and I would pal­pate his abdomen on a reg­u­lar basis, espe­cially as he got older. Well Last Fri­day, I noticed he was breath­ing heav­ier than nor­mal and seemed a lit­tle fluffed. I had been away vis­it­ing fam­ily for 10 days so was wor­ried I missed him get­ting sick. When I took him out of the cage and pal­pated him, I noticed he felt thin and his abdomen was dis­tended and firm. After a few moments of shock, I real­ized that this was the begin­ning of the end. I passed from denial to guilt, to grief to accep­tance in a mat­ter of min­utes.  I coun­sel clients all of the time regard­ing deci­sions of when is the right time to put to sleep. Do you wait until you see signs of dis­com­fort? Do you wait until they stop eat­ing? Are there any med­ica­tions we can try first? Know­ing that this was not going to be oper­a­ble and he was breath­ing so heavy, I opted to make an appoint­ment at my pre­vi­ous clinic with one of my friends and col­leagues for this week­end. I have never been able to put my own pet to sleep, nor did I have the facil­ity to do it while I am in the process of job tran­si­tion. I knew the longer I waited, the harder it would be on Kiwi. I loved him too much to wait this out. So my hus­band drove me to the office and I stayed with him through the anes­the­sia and gave him a final kiss good­bye, and left.

Today, I finally went ahead and dis­man­tled his cage. Up until that point, every­time I walked into my room I could almost imag­ine hear­ing him play­ing with his bells and chirp­ing and I would catch myself about to whis­tle a hello. So it was time to put every­thing away. I know in the future I will need to get another budgie. Life is too quiet with­out one. But for now I will appre­ci­ate how spe­cial Kiwi was and count my bless­ings that we had eight good years together.

Start Date

Monday, April 4th, 2011

As of April 25th I will be start­ing to see appoint­ments at Car­ing Hands Ani­mal Hos­pi­tal in Ashburn.