Job entered my life courtesy of the Burnsville, Minnesota Police Department. On a call that took him inside a home, a kind officer noticed the dove lying on the bottom of his cage. He volunteered to drive the bird and his owner to the nearest veterinary clinic. The night before, two cats attacked Job. They were playing tug of war when the owner pried him out of their jaws.
My first thought upon seeing Job was to end his suffering. The poor bird lie on his side at the bottom of a small cage littered with cigarette butts. Blood and feces covered his tan feathers. I placed my hands around his body and lifted him out of the cage. To my horror, the filthy paper moved too. He was glued to it by his own blood! I dissolved it with hydrogen peroxide, freeing one feather at a time.
The cats really did a number on this poor bird. When he tried to eat, seeds fell from his neck through a gaping hole in that region. His right wing hung on the ground. The bones were intact but the muscles and tendons were damaged beyond repair. As I held him in my hand, I struggled with what would be the most humane thing for Job. My training and education told me to end his suffereing. Even if I could repair his crop and wing, infection would probably take his life. Euthanasia would be far better than suffering a prolonged death.
I could not put my finger on it, but something about how Job looked at me convinced me to try. I treated him with fluids and antibiotics before performing surgery to repair the damage to his frail body. What should have been a ten minute procedure stretched into a thirty minute surgical ordeal. Most of Job’s crop was missing. I sutured together whatever tissue I could find and gave his owner a guarded prognosis for recovery. I worried that the decision to treat Job was a mistake. I left the clinic that night with a heavy heart.
The next few days were touch and go for Job. I fed him gruel via a feeding tube and injected him with a powerful antibiotic. Between feedings, he rested in the corner of the incubator with his eyes closed. His wing trailed behind him when he walked. Job was a model patient. He allowed me to dress his wounds without a fuss and left the bandages alone. I knew Job was going to make it when he began to coo. Words can not express how great that felt.
Now, many years later, it is wonderful to tell you that Job is still cooing up a storm. Every morning he greets the sun with a strong voice. He spends his days eating, watching my other birds and finding “new friends” in his mirror. Although he is not the brightest bird (he meets several new friends per day in that mirror), he certainly is most inspirational. He is a constant reminder that miracles can happen if we just try.
Welcome to “Ask The Vet”, a category of my blog dedicated to answering questions about the medical care of animals. Please post questions that conform to the following guidelines:
- Readers are advised to consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for medical advice regarding your pet. I can not comment on specific cases and will only provide information that is general in nature. It is my hope and expectation that this will prove useful as you consult your own veterinarian.
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- I will select questions to answer based upon general interest to the larger community.
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- Information about my background can be found at: veterinarycreative.com
With those guidelines out of the way, I invite you to e-mail me with questions. I look forward to hearing from you. -Dr. Kris Nelson
“Beep, beep, beep”, the pager sounded in the wee hours of the night. I squinted at the device, trying to read the numbers. A few minutes later, I was dressed and driving to the clinic. Golden Retriever puppies were on their way and I was summoned to make sure the delivery went well. Little did I know, months later the most energetic of these little ones would boomerang back and become part of my family.
In August 2008 Susie turns 14 years old. I attribute her longevity to a healthy appetite, boundless energy, a good sense of curiosity and the disposition of a saint. Her move to Arizona and ability to swim regularly have also helped.
It must be said that Susie values humans over all other creatures. When meeting fellow dog walkers she immediately wags her entire body then sits so that the approaching humans can pet her. She wallows in any human attention. Other animals, it would seem, are merely a distraction. Most people can not resist petting and talking to her. Those who own Goldens know what I mean.
Susie is a good natured dog and always happy to do just about anything as long as I or my husband are involved. When I helped with her delivery, I had no expectation of having Susie join the family. But she was so elevated in her energy level that she bounced through four homes before I was asked to take her.
Susie did eventually settle down . . . when the arthritis started. I am a better human being for having known her. She has transformed my life.
I met this adorable little furball while working at a friend’s clinic. A woman approached the counter carrying a cardboard box. Inside lay a newborn kitten missing one of its back legs. She said she found the kitten behind a dumpster and wanted it euthanized.
When I opened the box, I saw a newborn kitten covered in blood and dirt. Her body fit in the palm of my hand. The exposed muscles of her right back leg glistened under the bright hospital lights. As I examined the bloody stump, Genny tried to wiggle away. She opened her mouth to complain, but did not make a sound. She was too weak to even cry. I hypothesized that the placenta had stuck to her back leg. The queen probably chewed her foot off in an effort to clean up her baby. I could not put Genny down just because she was missing a leg. So I asked the woman if I could try to raise the kitten. Gratefully, the answer was yes.
On July 1, 2008, Genevieve turns 16 years old. This little hard luck kitten grew into a beautiful cat with silky fur and wonderful tortoise shell markings. While small in size, like many torties Genny has an oversized attitude. When she lived at my clinic, she loved to walk in front of cages and remind the hospitalized animals that she could roam as she pleased. I think she considers herself more human than cat. She wants things her way and on her schedule. If I don’t comply, she voices her disgust in a most unladylike manner. Yes, she is a spoiled little princess but also affectionate and loving. At night, she rests her head in my hand and purrs. Raising an orphan is a mixture of work and reward. Please consider becoming a foster parent if you have the chance to raise an orphaned animal. The rewards are far greater than I could have ever imagined.
Poor Bongo was plucked from her nest somewhere in Central America and sold into the U.S. pet trade. While on sale in Minnesota, she developed severe eye problems and limited vision. Since she could no longer be sold, the pet store donated her to the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. I persuaded the University to give her to me during senior year. She has been my constant companion ever since and has lived in New York, Ohio, Minnesota and Arizona.
Bongo likes women and hates men. This flows from her experience at the University. The technician who cared for her was female. A male veterinarian toweled her for examinations, drew blood and performed other medical work on her. I left veterinary college almost twenty years ago. Yet to this day, if a man approaches her cage, she flares her wings and opens her beak in warning. She bites hard if given the chance (my husband will attest). In addition to her gender preference, Bongo also has a hierarchy for hair color. She is cautious around blonds, likes brunettes and loves redheads. In fact, women with red hair are often treated to a full-blown display of tail fanning and vocalizations such as “hello bird” and “Bongo good bird” followed by a wolf whistle.
Living with parrots is not for everyone. Sometimes they are quiet and cuddly while other times they make a mess, scream and bite. Please do your homework before purchasing a parrot. I liken it to living with a two year old human who never grows up.