The Old Lady Pigeons' Retirement Home
This is a bit of an epic story with a cast of characters and a happy ending. Let me see how I can tell it. It stars old lady pigeons Louie and Dee Dee Detroit and I'm not going to tell you how I came to meet them. You can click on their links for that part of their story.
This story starts with how old MickaCougar Dee Dee Detroit got into trouble with her young mate Peppermint and needed an Old Lady Pigeons' Retirement Home.
A pigeon hen chooses her mate and I was surprised when old, beat up and arthritic Dee Dee Detroit took up with young, virginal and very virile Peppermint.
They did well for months but eventually, Peppermint grew frustrated with his old and not-in-the-best-of-health mate. It got a little unpleasant with Peppermint mounting Dee Dee even when she bent over just to eat. I think he was frustrated with Dee Dee's failure to lay eggs and so he abandoned the careful mating ritual pigeons usually observe and just started jumping on Dee at any opportunity, no matter how inappropriate. Her pained and arthritic knees made his big love (780 grams) very uncomfortable, I'm sure.
And it wasn't just the inappropriate mounting. Peppermint was often rough with Dee Dee, harassing her back to the nest whenever she wanted to eat, and generally just pecking and pulling at her more than seemed warranted. They had lots of tender moments but sometimes I felt like Dee Dee was an abused pigeon wife. She has one of those faces that makes her look like she's always smiling but Peppermint's rough treatment was hard for me to see. To be fair to Peppermint, she only was able to lay eggs twice over the many months of their marriage. He spent a lot of his time trying to coax her into their nest. He was a frustrated pigeon man.
Sometimes, when she'd had enough, Dee Dee would fly to a high perch where she would take a break from her flightless mate, Pepper who would be left running around below, craning his head to keep an eye on his mate.
Lately, I could tell that things were getting worse and so I tried bringing Dee Dee into the house to relax in a less stressful setting but, once inside, she perked up and wouldn't settle and wanted back out so I returned her to the coop and her mate.
But things didn't improve and I decided I needed to relocate Peppermint so that Dee Dee could stay in the coop but not get 'man handled' so much. On Saturday, 8/14, I was getting ready to take Pepper to his new foster home in Pacifica when I came outside and found them snuggling together in their nest box like this. I took this picture with my camera phone and sent it to MickaCoo volunteer and foster Cheryl, saying I didn't have the heart to break them up and so wouldn't be bringing Peppermint over.
But I should have because the next day, I found poor Dee Dee with a pecked and bloody head, almost certainly done by Pepper. (The yellow lump beneath her eye is a benign fatty tumor.) Regardless of who did it, Dee Dee wasn't safe to stay in the coop.
I was even more concerned when I brought her in the house and found that while her chest was skinny and her keel bony, she had a grossly swollen abdomen- egg bound, I figured. I got her to Dr. Fitzgerald at the Medical Center for Birds the next day.
Dr. Fitzgerald examined her gently and then allowed me to stay and hold Dee Dee while she drew off 192 grams of surprisingly clear fluid from her swollen belly. Dee Dee got some instant pain relief and her breathing improved as well from the procedure.
While the fluid was diagnosed as likely a result of heart failure, I was able to bring Dee Dee home a couple of days later and carefully monitor her recovery. I weighed her daily (and she gained a few grams every day) and examined her frequently to see if the returning weight was a re-accumulation of fluid (bad) or increased body weight and muscle return (good).
While Dee Dee was recovering, I put out an appeal to the Mickaboo and MickaCoo volunteer communities to try and find a suitable retirement home for Dee Dee. She was not going to be able to return to my coop and needed a better home than a hospital cage on my counter.
I sent out an email titled: Old Ladies Need Help!
Sweet old lady foster king pigeon Dee Dee Detroit has been trying to keep up with her young mate (Peppermint) and all the pigeon folks out in my coop but her advanced age and arthritic knees and weakening heart have drawn those days to a close. Until I can find her the right spot, she's stuck in my (overfull) house in a cage that really isn't quite as dignified as she'd like. She really needs a nice, quiet, pigeon retirement/foster home. And, while she can't be with her mate any more, there is an old lady pigeon by the name of Louie that would also enjoy getting out of the hustle and bustle and into a nice, quiet, sunny foster home and together, they would be happy and safe and enjoy each others' company. MickaCoo even has a nice, big, predator & weather proof flight cage that you could house these two sweet old gals in. It's 8' long, 6' high and 4' feet wide and, with just these two quiet, dignified ladies in it, would be VERY easy to care for. They don't HAVE to live in this cage nor do they have to live outside. But they do need enough space to stretch their old muscles and some sunshine and fresh air. Can you help them and me? We would REALLY appreciate it. Consider this an URGENT request. Reply to AdoptKings@gmail.com Thank you! Elizabeth
Old lady pigeon Louie, who I had rescued almost three years ago from euthanasia at SFACC and who I had adopted myself because I just couldn't stand the thought of this dignified old bird being homeless for another minute, was living in my coop and doing OK but I felt she would appreciate the peace and quiet of a retirement home too, as well as provide the perfect friend for Dee Dee.
While Louie seemed to be holding her own in the coop, she'd had a scary bout with a bleeding ulcer in January (when I'd moved her indoors into "hospice") and, though she surprised me by making a strong recovery and returning to the coop, was spending more and more time on her shelf.
Meanwhile in the house, Dee Dee Detroit was doing well. She was regaining good weight and the fluid was not re-accumulating. In fact, she was doing so well that she started up an unauthorized romance with flightless homer Joey!
And, outside, Peppermint had found love again with new arrival Sparkle.
And another MickaCoo miracle had happened in that adopters Clare & Bob of Cupertino offered to set up an Old Lady Pigeons' Retirement Home in their sunny backyard! They worked with MickaCoo volunteer Cheryl over Labor Day Weekend to disassemble and transport and reassemble the 8' x 4' x 6' flight cage that Cheryl's newly built aviary had replaced (that story coming soon).
So after a recheck and a good report from her vet on 9/7, Dee Dee Detroit and her friend Louie said goodbye to life in the fast lane and moved to their big, lovely and very peaceful new home on 9/10. (Note: Dee Dee's fluid was the result of an ovarian cyst rather than her heart condition as originally suspected and her romance with Joey had to be broken up. She needs to be in a non-reproductive state. But don't worry. Joey has a new girlfriend and their story will follow sometime soon.)
I'm getting updates from Clare and she says that Dee Dee Detroit and Louie are settling in and doing very well. We should all be so lucky in our golden years.