In a homeschooling house full of 7 kids & 3 guniea pigs....there is never a dull moment! A lot of people show genuine concern for us and want to know how we are doing, as the road we've left behind was not a pleasant one. So, here I am, to tell some of our stories...share some of our days...and open up a part of our world to you! Come join us on our journey so you won't miss the moments that take our breath away!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I can't believe she's gone

On Tuesday, I was working on a post that I never got to finish.  I knew the end was near and it helped me to write about her.  It helped me to think of good and happy times and not focus so much about what was happening and the choices I had to face.  But, I didn't get to post that post because things took a dramatic turn.

When I was preparing lunch that day, she collapsed and laid lifeless on the floor in a puddle of urine.  I was in the kitchen with her, but I had my back turned so I didn't see her.  Eagle walked to the sink and spotted her and he said "Oh my God, is she dead"?  When I turned around and saw her lifeless body laying there in such an akward position, I too thought she was dead.  When I approached her, she cried a very unusual cry...a cry I have never heard before.  Crow was standing at her side sniffing her.  I picked her up and she seemed fine, other than an odd "stiffness" about her.  I stood her up and she could stand, but she appeared to be paralized.  After a little while she was completely back to normal, but I had realized that since early that morning she had been coughing a lot.  She actually woke Cardinal up this morning, she was trying to clear something out of her throat.  She was covered in urine, so I gave her a bath and blew her hair dry.  As I brushed her hair, I had the overwhelming feeling that this would be the last time I would ever brush her hair and I felt a sadness come over me.  I became very anxious and nervous, I didn't like this feeling at all!

After her bath, she rested comfortably on the couch.  A few hours later, she coughed up blood.  Obviously, I immediately knew that the end was near.  I knew that I would not be able to afford vet care for her and I feared that the time had come, that I may need to consider having her put down.  I spent the afternoon in tears, while Cardinal  distracted the younger kids.  She was absolutely amazing!

Our last picture
For 15 years, she was always by my side, she was my "fur baby".  When she was a puppy, she went everywhere with us.  She was known to be one of the biggest fans at the many Cross Country meets we went to.  She loved boating, camping, walks in the park or even in the neighborhood (she wasn't very picky).  She loved her mommy so much that she suffered severe seperation anxiety and she had to take medication until I was able to quit work and stay home with her.  She lended an ear whenever I needed it.  She licked my tears when I was sad.  She wagged her tail when she knew I was happy.  She never talked back.  She never got mad at me, even when I was wrong.  She always got attention and got to play dress up even if she didn't want to.  She had lots of siblings to feed her scraps that she shouldn't have too.  She made it through puppy school, although, you never would have known when she was older.  She tolerated her Rotty brother and sister and even her Black Lab brother, Crow.  She was there through all the good times and the bad.  So, with all these good times, of course there were some bad.  She ran away a number of times.  She survived being lost in the dead of winter (twice).  Somehow, she was always returned to us even though it disappointed the people who had already "adopted" her.  Jailbird didn't like her, so the years with him were surely not the best.  He even made us re-home her once, but later realized that really wasn't fair.  

Around 5:00, she had another seizure.  The boys were so upset.  Once again, she laid lifeless on her side and they thought she was dead.  When I got up to go to their room, she again seemed fine, but once again had that weird stiffness about her legs.

By 6:00, I was discussing with the kids the reality of having to put her down.  This was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever faced.  I have always disagreed with this option, as I felt it wasn't my right to choose when she should die.  But, then again...I had never imagined her dying this way either.  I am not one to sugar coat things for my kids, so they were well aware that she was dying.  We spent the next few hours taking pictures and spending lots of time with her, comforting her and holding her. 

Duckling and Parrot's last picture

Macaw and Parrot's last picture

Hawk and Parrot's last picture

Cardinal and Parrot
The decision was made that we would put her down the next would be selfish for us not to.  It was a heartwrenching decision, but she did not deserve to suffer and I had to think of how traumatic this was for my flock to watch her die this way.

She was laying on our couch...she sat up during one of her coughing fits and tilted her head back so far that she fell straight back and began having a seizure and then she whimpered and moaned.  When I sat he back up, the blood was dripping pretty bad out of her mouth and nose.  She was breathing very fast and heavy.  It was apparent that she probably was not going to make it through the night, and she was beginning to suffer.  Macaw was sitting right next to her and she started to panic and was yelling "take her to the doctor, she needs to go to the doctor".  I called two different hospitals and they both charged $165 to put her down.  Neither of them were willing to work with me on the cost.  It was killing me that my kids were having to witness this and I couldn't bear to see Parrot suffering, but there was nothing I could do.  I was advised to keep her warm and comfort her and that it sounded like she was in heart failure and was having seizures and with the hemoraging she probably wouldn't last long.

At 7:00 she made her final trip up the stairs.  She went to her favorite spot in the whole house...Hawk's bed.  I covered her up and Cardinal and I sobbed for hours as we sat with Parrot...trying to make her as comfortable as we could.  We took a few last pictures and then it was obvious that Parrot was growing extremely uncomfortable.  She would stand up, turn around, lay down...stand up, turn around lay down.  She tried to whimper and cry but not much sound came out.  She was breathing so heavy Cardinal said it sounded like she had run a marathon.  I said "Parrot has always been such a trooper, a real fighter...she can't even give it up when she is dying".  My mom suggested that I hold Parrot to see if that would make her more comfortable and get her to calm down.  That since she wasn't hiding to die, maybe she just needed me to tell her it was ok to go.  So, I picked her up and cradled her.  I talked to her...basically begging her to give up because I just couldn't bear to see her suffer.  I didn't want these memories to replace all of the ones I wanted to remember.  She was bleeding so bad from her mouth and nose, that blood was pooling on the bed.  Her breathing slowed down and she took a deep breath then her body relaxed and she went limp then she twitched.  I thought that was it, I said "I think that was it, I think she's gone" but then she gurgled and gasped for air.  It was so hard to tell if she was dead or alive.  I was amazed at the peacefulness that took over her, I was truly in awe and I was so relieved and if I could feel "happy" this was that moment, it was a beautiful thing.  I kept saying "Cardinal, look at her, look how peaceful she is, she is not suffering, isn't it amazing".  At this point, I thought she was still alive, but as I look back...I realize that she was already dead.  I told Cardinal to go get Hawk and tell him that if he wanted to see her alive again, that he needed to come now because it seemed we were in our final minutes.  I called my mom and told her that we were close.  It was hard to distinguish if she was dead or alive.  Her head was limp and lifeless, I even said to my mom "she can't even hold her head, if i let it go, it falls".  Again, she twitched and her body went limp and she gurgled.  Again, I said "I think that's it, she's gone" then she would make a gasping sound, so we thought she was alive.  Hawk and Eagle left the room.  I was trying to figure out if she was dead or alive...but she did the twitch/gurgle routine one last time.  It was still hard to tell if she was dead or not, but this time I was sure that she was.  As I replay the events in my head, I realize that she was dead before I sent Cardinal to get Hawk, that moment of peace was actually the moment of her death.  I know this for certain, because she defecated during that first cycle of lifelessness and I didn't want Hawk to see it when looked at her.

A final goodbye, one last video and preparing for grief and healing

We held her and said goodbye for about 45 minutes.  I decided to wake Macaw so that she could say her goodbyes.  In the morning, she did not remember that Parrot had died.  Eagle and Macaw were both very upset that they couldn't see her.  This bothered me very much because I too have that need of having that type of closure.

We drove 45 minutes to our own "pet cemetary" to find that it was flooded and was about 12 inches under water.  In a panic, I got ahold of the only place that could bury her.  They offered a "country burial" in which 50-100 pets were dumped in one big hole.  They don't allow you to mark the grave and they don't keep track of which animal goes into which hole.  So, basically, I felt like we'd be throwing her away like trash.  They did offer a "private" burial.  She would have her own plot and we could mark her grave and visit her...for $450.  So, I called a vet and explained the situation and they advised me to keep her in the freezer until we could give her a proper burial.  My mom offered to help with this difficult task.  My mom looked sad and she has the same "closure" issue as me, so I asked if she wanted to see her and she said yes.  After seeing that Parrot was still "presentable" I gave everyone the option to see her except Duckling.  I thought it would be too confusing and better if she didn't.  Macaw needed that.  It wasn't upsetting to her at all.  She got to see and pet her and say her final goodbye, she needed that.  Eagle seemed a bit bothered, but he really wanted that chance to see her one last time.  Emu...ahh, my little Emu.  He has dealt with this entire thing in a way that is bothersome to me.  He has been not only completely unaffected by her death, but he has had no response to any of us being so upset either.  Well, he wanted to see her and when he looked at her he said "heh" and ran away.  He came back a moment later, flapping his wings and jumping up and down and with a smile and his little laugh he said "so, are we going to put her in the mud now"?  That's about how Emu has handled all of this, I guess for him, it's a blessing. 

Each day is a little easier, but we are still so sad.  Poor Duckling can't begin to understand and she keeps asking why Parrot is hiding.  Macaw just cries and says she misses her.  Emu doesn't even know she's gone.  The rest of us break down randomly.  There is such an emptiness that I never could have imagined.  Her bed still sits where it always was, her bowl is still in it's same spot and her food is untouched.  It's hard when I realize I haven't tripped over her or she hasn't gotten in my way.  I feel like I'm forgetting something when I leave because I don't have to make sure she's locked up.  I miss hearing her scratch at the gate (and God, I hated that).  I miss letting her outside while I'm waiting for my coffee in the morning.  I miss shaking my head as I walk by Hawk's door because someone let her out of the kitchen and she's laying on his bed.  I miss yelling at Duckling to put her down because she was always trying to carry her.  Nothing seems the same without her.  I never would have imagined that I could miss her this much.  I can't wait for the day that this gets easier and when this pain goes away!

I love and miss you so much Parrot, life will never be the same without you!

Her final hour

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