Monday, March 31, 2008

Fancy Fliers Part Two: Larry's Story


In part one of the continuing story, "Meet Linda's Birds" I promised to share more about Linda's experiences with her feathered friends. Linda has one of the biggest hearts when it comes to both animals and people. When I am around her, I always feel more light in spirit, so I know she has this magical personality that attracts and comforts furry and feathered beings.

While I have not often been around birds, whenever I visit Florida Wild Veterinary Hospital and have a chance to be with Linda who works as Office Manager at the clinic and have the opportunity to watch how she interacts with their avian clients, it touches my heart to see how she interacts with them with the boundless love and affection that she offers them.

So without further ado, here is the story about Linda's "angel" bird, Larry, a cockatiel who now resides at the Rainbow Bridge.

"I had not planned on bringing Larry home with me but I had grown accustomed to him sitting on my shoulder and putting that little head down for a scratch.  He had been at the office for about 2 months and it seemed only natural that he join my flock.

"As cockatiels usually are, he was feisty, but never really mean or biting.  It was more of a tease to let me know he had a mind of his own.  He made the transition easily and seemed to enjoy his new cage and toys.

"Larry’s story began when his previous owner brought him to our office because he wasn’t doing well and because “he” was a chronic egg layer.  Larry had always been in a cage with other cockatiels so Dr.Holder,DVM, thought the owner was mistaken about just who the egg layer was.  Larry had the male cockatiel features, i.e., bright orange cheeks and the absence of feather barring under the tail.  To satisfy her own mind, the Dr.Holder drew blood for a DNA sexing and it did indeed come back MALE.

"Larry was a very sick little boy and his previous owner surrendered him due to finances.  Once he was well and off medication he was completely back to normal, or so we thought.

"Larry lived happily at my house for about 12 months before I began to notice that things again were not right with him.  I noticed he wasn’t eating or playing as much and he appeared to be losing weight.  He started “swelling” in the lower abdomen just above his vent (anus).   I took him to work with me the next day and the Dr.Holder drew off a very large amount of yellowish fluid from his abdominal area.  He was hospitalized for a couple of days and came home with medication and instructions to keep a close eye on him.

"It wasn’t long before the swelling started again.  Dr. Holder suggested exploratory surgery because she was concerned it might be cancer.  I was reluctant at first but I trusted her explicitly and knew that without the surgery he didn’t have a chance…with it he might. 

"Larry survived the surgery quite well…BUT imagine my surprise when  Dr.Holder told me Larry had cancer of the ovary!  It seems he had both male and female “parts” and that’s why the DNA came back male but “he” actually was capable of laying eggs, although he never laid one while living with me.  The ovary and tumor were removed along with a strange looking growth on the other side of “his” insides.

"The next hurdle was waiting for the pathology report.  Unfortunately it came back malignant with no clear margins, meaning Dr.Holder was unable to get it all.  My heart sank as she told me the results.  This poor sweet creature was doomed and I could do nothing about it.   Dr. Holder advised that I let him be happy as long as I could and I would know “when it’s time”.  So that’s what I decided to do…give him as good a life as I could as long as he had a quality of life. 

"It was just a few short weeks later that the time did indeed come.  Fluid had to be drawn off twice after the surgical procedure was performed and the third incident of swelling was when I decided it just wasn’t fair to keep him hanging on.  He had grown weary and tired and no longer played and enjoyed looking out the window at the outside birds.  He didn’t enjoy hopping up on my finger for a head scratch anymore.  The build up of fluid made him miserable.  Gouging him with needles just to keep him in my life was wrong.

"It was with a heavy heart I made the decision that morning to have him euthanized.  Anyone who has agonized over this decision knows what I’m talking about.  Is it too soon?  Have I waited too long?  Am I playing God?

"I wanted to be with Larry when Dr.Holder performed this final gift of love I could offer Larry, so I opened the incubator and he jumped up to my shoulder and put his head down for one last scratch, something he had not done in weeks.  Was this his way of thanking me for not making him endure the pain any longer?  I try to think that it was.

"I had Larry cremated and he is in a little wooden box beside two other pets that have gone before him.  This special little bird made an imprint on my life and he will always be close to my heart."

Rest sweet, Larry. You were deeply loved and will always live in Linda's heart. You are very much missed.


Anonymous said...

What a loving story. I am sure his owner was devasted with the diagnosis. But I give her credit for knowing in her heart and mind when the time to ease his pain had come. He will be waiting at the bridge calling to her, letting her know he appreciated her courage.

Fourhorsegal said...

What a beautiful but heartbreaking story.

Euthanasia is such a devastating, yet kind thing to do. And you're right. The questions always come up. Did I wait too long, too soon, etc.

I am glad Larry was so loved and taken care of.