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.