Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Carmen, my canary, passed away over the weekend. Apparently fate read my blog post about how you should provide veterinary care for your small birds, and decided to put my convictions to the test.
As I said before, birds have ridiculously fast metabolism. Everything - good things, bad things - spread through their bodies at an impossible pace. They heal fast, but they also crash fast.
I had Carmen out last week in the evening. She flew over to me and started chirping at me. I was confused, because normally she wanted nothing to do with me. In retrospect, I wonder what she was trying to tell me.
She fluttered about for a bit before abruptly crashing. Alarmed, I went over to her - she suddenly seemed drained of energy, like she couldn't fly. 
The next day we rushed her to the vet. She spent a few days there, in an incubator, and tests seemed to show that she had a kidney infection. We put her on antibiotics and she improved remarkably. So much so, in fact, that we took her home.
We turned our bathroom into an incubator of our own and I did my best to get antiobiotics in her. She was improving and to be honest, I thought it was done. I was sure she would be fine. The vet sounded positive, she was active, and I thought - miracle canary! She survived a broken leg and a kidney infection!
But it was not to be. The second night she was home, she crashed, hard.
The infection must have spread, or maybe she had had something else wrong with her the whole time. For all we know, she was an old bird. That's the one problem with rescue, you never know their age. Carmen could have been 10 years old for all I know. She could've been used for breeding in her first life, and breeding significantly reduces a female canary's lifespan. She could've had a genetic defect from birth. Or maybe she just got sick and it was beyond our ability to treat. There are so many unknowns when it comes to these little guys.
Carmen went back to the vet's and was placed on an oxygen tank, but the vet prepared us for the worst outcome. Sure enough, the next morning they called to tell us sadly that she had passed away overnight. On one hand, I hate the idea of her passing away alone in a vet clinic. But on the other hand, it was as comfortable as she could've been at that point.
Carmen wasn't hand-tamed, and she wasn't really interested in people. I loved her, and she was mildly fond of me. She had an interest in Loki the cockatiel and utter distaste for everyone else in the house. But why should she like people? She didn't have to, as far as I'm concerned. I like to think she lived a good life here, and that she was happy to be left alone (except when being spoiled!).
She had a massive cage with a variety of perches, a healthy diet with vitamin supplements, treats, free-range time and vet care whenever it was needed. Her favourite game was to land on the Kleenex box, pull off pieces and spread them all over the couch. She liked to drink out of the rabbits' water bowl and her favourite kind of greens were the little curly ones in the mix.
I loved Carmen, but I won't pretend that my grief over her loss is the same as it was with Alice. There is a different dynamic when the love is mutual. But it's grief nonetheless, and guilt - could I have done anything to prevent this? Anything else to fix it? The house certainly seems empty without her. Loki the cockatiel, probably the only one Carmen considered a friend, landed on her cage the next day and peered inside, looking back and forth from the empty cage to me. How to explain she's not coming back?
It's not fair. We lost our Alice only four months ago, and now this. The last two years, we have lost too many members of our family, both human and animal. My pets get the best care I can possibly give them, and I always try to make life better for them. It's so frustrating to lose them nonetheless. I had to play a concert at the St Lawrence Centre later that day, and I don't think I've ever played the horn so angrily in my life.
I wish she'd had so many more years, but I like to think she was really happy here in the time that she had.
Rest in peace, little sweetheart.

 When I returned to the shelter today, there was a slew of new arrivals and some really infuriating excuses for abandoning their pets. Sorry guys - there's going to be some angry posts coming up. But that's rescue; what goes down, must come up, and good news will come eventually. Just have to be patient and try not to blow a gasket.


selkie said...

I'm so sorry about your little bird. It is never easy to lose a pet and particularly hard when your hopes have been raised and then dashed. As you point out, we never really know how much time we might have with our rescue pets; when Commander Bun Bun died last Spring, we were VERY upset as we had had him only 7 years. But he too was a rescue so god knows how old he really was. I am sure your littel bird was very happy; and think how badly she might have fared somewhere else where someone might have demanded more than she cuold give.

gracerock said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Carmen! Very sad news, but you can find comfort in knowing that you gave her an amazing home and tons of love, and much more vet care than I'm sure most people give their small animals! RIP Carmen.

Caroline said...

Sorry to read about Carmen, You did the very best for her.

Jude said...

It really sucks to lose any life, no matter their size or species, Marg. But think if that woman hadn't brought in Carmen to the rescue, you'd never have known her quirky special personality. I like animals that have a certain amount of attitude & reading your posts about Carmen, she fit into that group. Poor Loki but I'm sure she'll have Bailey to dote on her now.

I love that photo of Loki & Carmen eating together. Seeing different animal species interact in a kind & gentle manner together is very special to me. You did what you could but we always will 2nd guess ourselves wondering if there might have been something else. Its our loving nature to do so.