Job, The Miracle Bird


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.


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.