On the morning of March 1st while Pele the White-Bellied Caique and Kiri CAG were being misted with water, I heard Pele wheezing. I quickly put Kiri in the cage and took Pele downstairs to see what was going on. On the way down the stairs, Pele's grip was very weak and when I put him on the play stand, he could not perch. I got out my makeshift hospital fish tank, hooked up the over-head lamp with a 100-watt bulb to get him into a heated environment. I lined the tank with clean baby blankets before putting Pele in. I called the vet and made an emergency appointment. They took us right away. The vet told me that Pele had a severe upper respiratory infection and that he had fluid in his lungs. I left Pele at the vet so he could be hydrated, tube fed and be given a shot of Baytril.
I set up the parrot incubator, regulated the temp to 85 degrees and added a clean wet washcloth on a dish to provide humidity. I brought him home after 8:00 pm.
Pele passed away at 12:30am on March 2, 2007. I was beyond devastated. Pele had been my dearest, sweet companion for 8 years. I loved him as if he were my own child. How could I have not known that he was sick? I could not sleep and lay awake til 5 in the morning. I relived the past several days over and over in my head. I remembered that Pele's level of activity was not normal and that he had not shown exuberance when offered his yummy walnuts or candied ginger. He would nap early in the evenings, which was not normal and he wanted to sit on my chest all evening getting scritches instead of playing. I came to the conclusion that because I became too involved in something that I had no control over, and, had allowed it to become a part of my daily life from October to the day Pele died, I failed to notice all the tell-tale signs. If I had focused my attention on my flock instead of getting 'caught' up in the melodrama that was being played out before me, and had I not allowed it to consume me to the point of severe depression, I could have saved Pele's life. This life lesson is the cruelest one I have had to bear.
Kiri CAG, Pele's cage mate and friend, was so deep in grief that I had to put all my feelings of wrenching sadness and failure aside while she was awake. She stopped eating and playing with all of her toys. When I would bring her down to the living room, she would just perch on her swing and stay motionless. In preparation for Pele's recovery, I had purchased hand-feeding formula and jars of organic baby food. Three times a day, while listening to Kiri's favorite Raffi CD and singing along and dancing around the living room, I fed Kiri from a hand-feeding syringe. The music and dancing did little to distract her from grieving over the disappearance of her best friend.
Verna Brison and Peter Lucey had purchased a 3-year-old White Bellied Caique, Harvey, some months before. They knew how huge a part of my life was Pele the Caique. Midmorning of March 2nd Verna called me and told me that she and Peter had discussed at great length my loss of Pele. They had decided to gift me with their White Bellied Caique Harvey. Deep in my grief, I could not answer or even bear to think of having another Caique in my life. A few days later I had Verna on speaker phone while Kiri and I were grooving to Raffi. Kiri CAG heard a Caique speak. She became very animated and began talking Caique back. Harvey, without skipping a beat, answered her. That was the first day Kiri started showing any interest in what was in her food bowl. Harvey was the tonic she needed! Over the ensuing several days, Kiri, Harvey, Verna and I would whistle and talk on the phone a few times a day.
On Friday, March 9th at 11:30pm, Verna, Peter and Harvey arrived at my home. During the latter part of the 10-hour journey, Verna set up Harvey's sleep cubby in the Adventure Pack and when he tucked himself in his bed, Verna closed the front flap. We carried in the Adventure Pack. Although Harvey was asleep, I just had to have a little peek at the cuteness that was inside. He climbed out of his cubby and out of the Adventure Pack and flew right over to the fireplace mantle. He was beautiful. Inquisitive, as is the nature of a Caique, Harvey began exploring the knick knacks and discovered the computer cable from my desktop to the TV. He promptly put it in his beak and got his first no-no from me. Just as big as you please, Harvey marched with intent over to my hand, piggy squealed, bit me and then nonchalantly flew over to the play area! I had been Caiqued! After having some sips of apricot nectar, we set up Harvey's sleep cubby and nite-nite bell in his upstairs cage. Verna rang his nite-nite bell and the little charmer climbed into his cubby, turned around and stuck his head out to get scritches! This little guy was not only beautiful, he had personality plus!
As I write this, it is March 21st. I have cut Kiri's supplementary hand feeding back to once a day. Harvey, who has been renamed Howie, is taking formula from the syringe as well. I'm glad that he remembers being hand fed from a syringe. I will continue to hand feed. It was too difficult dosing Pele from the syringe because we did not 'practice' when he was not ill. I weigh both Howie and Kiri every morning before breakfast, and log it in a book so that if either of them begins to lose weight I can watch for outward tell-tale signs of illness. Last night was the first time Howie played with me. We played tag with a stuffed Bumble Bee toy. He and I laughed the whole time. The tears of sadness have stopped. I miss Pele terribly. Not a day goes by when I do not remember our life together and how much joy and happiness we shared. I have vowed to never become so self-involved at the expense of my flock and 4 foots.
My home is once again filled with happiness ~ the sound of Caique laughter. ♥