I went out to check on the pigeons in the loft and found my sweet friend Tank being hassled by young thugs Tony & Dill. I picked Tank up and could tell he'd lost weight. I brought him in and weighed him. He had weighed 860 grams on 12/4, 810 on 12/20 and 660 now. I set him up in a hospital crate on the kitchen counter and went outdoors to get his mate, Country. Once I had them settled I could see that Tank's breathing was labored. I made plans to take him to the vet in the morning.
Tank was an incredible pigeon who, last May got bit by a mosquito on his jaw (where there are few feathers) and ended up losing his lower beak to the pigeon pox. (It was bizarre and terrible and he's the only one it happened to.) He had to learn to eat without his lower beak and it was heartbreaking to watch him trying & trying. I adopted him & Country then and have kept a special eye on him ever since.
On Friday I took him and Country [for comfort & support] to UC Davis Small Animal Clinic. His breathing was still bad and so they went into an oxygen tank before getting examined. An ultrasound showed his liver was grossly enlarged. He had been eating but, by Saturday morning, he wasn't and his weight dropped to 590. When I got there, I could see he was very uncomfortable with labored breathing even in the oxygen and crouched down rather than in his normal stance. His diagnosis was untreatable cancer and we euthanized him that afternoon.
I wanted to take him home but he was suffering and so we did it there. Beforehand, I took them both outside [pij love leaving the vet just like a dog or cat] and I wanted to give that to Tank.
The vet let me inject the sedative, something I wanted to do because Tank was comfortable with me and trusted me. We sat outside for twenty minutes. I held him for awhile and then put him in the carrier with his mate. Country gave him a couple of quick beak-touches to his head, as if to welcome and check on him.
He died peacefully. Country seems to be doing OK. She spends more time out and about in the loft now and I think she must have been staying in their nest spot with Tank because he wasn't feeling well. I'm sure she misses him. Tank was a GREAT mate and a real gentleman pigeon. Click here to read more. I miss him a lot.
August 19, 2009 Update
Country has soldiered on these months without Tank. She's been (young whippersnapper) Dill's second wife for most of the time which is a far cry from the loving, secure and dignified life she lived with the wise and magnanimousTank. Somewhere along the line, she got in to trouble with somebody and the feathers on the back of her neck were pulled out. I'm not sure if Tess (Dill's wife) did it or how it happened. Then, just recently, Jazzy & Tum Tum evicted Country from her and Tank's spot under the pigeon credenza.
It broke my heart to see Country fallen on hard times and really steeled my resolve to reduce the number of foster birds in the loft so that overcrowding wouldn't impact vulnerable birds like her.
Then, in the past two weeks, she (and all the other hens) was courted by Dovee and I felt like she was starting to fall for him but all of a sudden Zoe decided she was going to marry Dovee and then, within 48 hours, Country took up with Frances!
From the 8/18/09 post Love Birds & Loved Birds!
I was THRILLED on Sunday night to find that Frances, who has been SO lonesome and has been trying so hard to get a mate has succeeded. The lucky lady is Country, a hen that was widowed in January when her incredibly sweet mate, Tank, had to be euthanized to end his suffering from cancer. Country is a very serious, no nonsense kind of hen who sat on her and Tank's eggs by herself for over a week around the clock when Tank was at the vet and she didn't know if he'd ever come back. That time he did and she welcomed him warmly. I am so happy for both Country and Frances. Frances has been trying to win a mate for months and, based on how sweet he is with me, I think will be a really loving and generous pigeon husband for Country.
People are asking about what this means for Frances' time spent pitter-pattering around the house and our relationship. Over the past few weeks, I've let Frances spend almost all his time outdoors. I LOVED bringing him in and really enjoyed the time that he spent indoors with me but I felt like it made it harder for him to 'be a regular bird' and get a mate. It's like all the other birds got to hang out all night and Frances' had to come indoors with me. So mostly I had been visiting with him out in the loft but, since he got a mate, I've been leaving him alone.
He's so giddy and excited and a little nervous when I'm around and I don't want to give him anything to worry about (like me picking him up and bringing him in the house and another bird getting his girl). Today Country came out of the nest box to get breakfast and Frances was frantic, running back and forth right past her but unable to recognize her in his haste. He was SO relieved when she was back in the nest. Frances is really not in the exact right shape just yet to be a pigeon husband (or God forbid) a father right now. He's still pretty impaired and recovering from the PMV so it's extra nice that Country sees his potential through the handicaps.