Friday, September 13, 2013

Dealing with loss (29.07.13)

At the end of July, something bad happened...

I started to notice that the two youngest of my budgie flock, Leo and Pixie, were more quiet than usual. It was hot and clammy outside and I thought, the budgies must have had a bad night because of the weather; but what I failed to see is that both Leo and Pixie were showing the first symptoms of a slumbering illness.

The next day, I clearly noticed that something was wrong with Leo and Pixie. They didn't make a sound and they stayed in the same spot all the time. I got worried, drove to my parents to pick up a transport cage and called the veterinarian as soon as I had arrived there.

A couple of hours later, I arrived at the vet with all four of my budgies (Frodo, Isla, Leo and Pixie). Frodo and Isla weren't showing any symptoms up to this point, but it was clear that the two other budgies were very sick. I told the vet that Pixie had diarrhoea and that Leo seemed to have lost a lot of weight. The vet couldn't immediately say what was wrong with them, but she would examine them and keep them there for the night. I left, knowing that they were in good hands. After all, she has saved my budgies before.

The next morning, I got extremely bad news and it hit me like a bullet. Both Pixie and Leo had died in the early morning. It had gone really fast and the veterinarian was shocked - clearly she had no idea why this had happened.
My world crumbled apart after I heard the message on my phone. They were so young. They should have lived. I hadn't even had the chance to say goodbye to them. I should have reacted sooner. I should have taken them to the vet the day before. Frodo and Isla were still alive, but for the next couple of days I was terrified to hear more bad news.

While I kept blaming myself for what had happened, I had to wait for the autopsy to hear what had caused their deaths. Meanwhile, the vet kept Frodo and Isla in the hospital, so she could keep a close eye on them. We visited them every day, promising them that we would take them home soon, and everything would be allright.

One week later, the results came in: a streptococcal infection followed by sepsis. At least it happened quickly :-(

I read up on this disease and learnt that a lot of budgerigars can carry this kind of organisms without even being sick. There needs to be a trigger factor (something that weakens the bird so that they become an easy target for bacteria) that enables the bacteria to invade the blood stream and spread through the body. I learned that Frodo and Isla survived the disease because their immune system shielded them from getting sick. Then why did Pixie and Leo get sick? I'm not 100% sure but it has to do with genetics (they react differently to diseases than Frodo and Isla) and the fact that during their short lifespan, they didn't really have a chance to build up immunity against any diseases.

Trigger factors for bacterial infections include: overcrowding, poor diet, low hygiene, inadequate parasite control and extreme weather conditions. These factors can determine your bird's life or death so please indentify and correct them on time. When budgies are showing illness symptoms, then they're often very sick already.

I know for a fact that the extreme weather conditions were the trigger factor here. Secondly, I had bought what turned out to be the crappiest aviary in the world - I will tell you about this later.

We buried Leo and Pixie in a nearby forest, close to home, along with some of their favorite toys. It was the hardest thing to say goodbye to them and I hope I will see them again some day. I will never forget them and the good times we had together.

Frodo and Isla are back home, recovering from a week at the vet's place. They still call out for Leo and Pixie and it's heartbreaking, knowing that Leo was Frodo's mate. I know he misses her and there is nothing I can do to bring her and Pixie back. We are considering buying two new birds, because I know Frodo and Isla miss being part of a bigger bird flock. But first they need to recover. Dealing with loss is not easy, especially when you have the feeling that you lost your birds way too early. I hope Pixie and Leo find peace and freedom, wherever they are now.

Here are some of the last pictures I have of them:

Our little budgie flock.

Leo and Frodo, it's a shame they couldn't stay together.

This is Leo on the day before she got sick. I want to remember her this way <3 td="">

Pixie the explorer, she will always be in my heart <3 br="">