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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fancy's Last Hours

As you can see, I posted the pictures of her being cuddled and given medicine at 5:54 and her death at 6:20. In the interim we had sat down in the den to eat. The last posted pictures were taken with Tommy about 3 pm.

After that, she sat in her cage on the porch on the rocker. About 4 pm, I noticed a rattling when she breathed, sort of like a gurgle. A fleeting dark thought went through my mind--death rattle. It wasn't much, just a bit. As the wind picked up, I thought that wind might not be good for her and finally moved her inside the back door.

Toward dinner I alternatively cooked and came to look at her. I noticed as we sat to eat that she was sounding worse. I only had chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli and ate in fear. Halfway through, I heard a strange sound. She was sort of leaning on the side of the cage and pulling a foot under her to stand. The foot and leg would slowly extend full-length to the side as she tried repeatedly and valiantly to get her foot under and to stand. She could not. I put a piece of newsprint under her feet instead of the slickish piece on which she was trying to gain her footing. That worked and she stood. I sat back down, full of fear.

A few minutes later, she was making a sound like she was trying to clear her throat as I watched. Then, it looked like sneezing. She sneezed so hard that she whacked the bottom of the cage with her bill. She shook her head and stretched her neck, all the while the rattling getting louder.

With an extremely heavy heart, I sat back down and told Exbf what was happening. He looked solemn. I think he suspected the same thing I did. Then, exbf tripped me as I walked past him! I have told him I will step over his feet, not to move and trip me. He did and I fell awkwardly across him. One side of my body was on him and my spine hit the corner of a drawer, solid wood, just my luck. I could not get up because I was bowed back and he could not get from under me because I landed on his side that needs hip surgery. He has trouble standing up without being pinned down!

While this was going on, 15 seconds after I checked on Fancy, I could hear beating on the cage. She was flopping or something. Crying from the pain on my spine below the waist, I finally managed to get off the drawer. When I ran over and threw back her cage cover I saw a horrifying site. Within that 15 second interval, she was gone.

She was in the midst of flopping on her back and her wings fell out gloriously from her body, sort of like angel wings. Her head rolled slowly to the side. I let out the bloodcurdling Psycho scream and continued to scream uncontrollably while exbf, startled, demanded over and over to know what was wrong. I could only scream and then sob with great gasps and then--scream, cry, and say over and over ," she's dead."

I turned from her, paralyzed,  and could not look beyond the initial vision of her, something I will never forget. "get her out, get her out." That is all I wanted, for her to be gone from my sight. It was just too horrible. I sat and typed that she was dead.

Even though I still sobbed uncontrollably, loudly and screaming, I went outdoors with them and could not look still. The neighbors must have thought something was happening to me.

The next you are going to think is crazy. Even in the midst of personal emotional agony, I can still function and take charge. I gave him two plastic bags and told him to put her in those. Yes, I was sobbing and choking. In the meantime I got a garbage bag and had him drop her bagged body in. Within five minutes of her dying, before she was cold, she was in the big freezer. I want to find out why she died.

Otherwise, I want her buried. Exbf was within minutes of leaving, it was dark, and I did not want to deal with burial then and ask him to stay. I was still sitting here, sobbing, wracked with body shakes, rocking myself, and trying to get it all to stop, so burial was not on my mind.

 Okay, had to take a break just now from the crying once again.

Exbf was halfway through his meal and could not eat after all the screaming, crying, bagging and freezing Fancy. I could tell he was sad to see her sick and then sad when she went. He is not emotional that way, so no tears or even words, just one, short, agonized groan.

I know. I cannot stand to see her dead but can stand to have her in the freezer. She is gone. It's over. I am pragmatic even though emotional.

Maybe I should have let her go on Sunday. I don't know. But, I don't regret all the cuddling she got at the end. I knew she was terribly ill when she never tried to leave the cage no matter how long it was open for my cleaning of her food and water bowls.

When the raccoon killed Chessie two years ago, I picked up her bloody and mutilated body as soon as I found her, still in her nest box/bed. I put her in a plastic bag and dropped her in the garbage. I was angry at the raccoon but cried only a bit because I had not protected her. I had a goal, protecting my hens and killing the raccoon. Now, I have nothing to fight. I am not angry; I am devastated!

Last night, I kept thinking I heard her over near the door, making little noises, shuffling and vocalizing. That was really unnerving because I would start to go see what she was doing or sit still to hear more.

At least she is not hurting. Please don't suggest there is a chicken heaven. Gone is gone.

Thanks for the emails and thoughts.

As I sat here last night, I did not regret any money I spent on her, just worried about how I can manage now. I guess that is pretty crass, but it is the truth and I had to think about something else. This morning, I am getting the evidence of her illness put away--meds and syringe and medicine dropper and other things.

Next time, I won't try to save a hen. We were both in agony.


  1. Again, so sorry about her death. I still think you did a great deal to try to alleviate her suffering and that is something I find admirable...I'd cry and scream too if she were mine.

  2. Thanks, I did all I knew how. I cannot believe I stuck a finger in her bottom to try to help her!

    Today, I have only cried only a bit, teared up many times. I feel empty inside...very depressed. I am making my throat hurt and sinuses stuffy.

  3. Reminds me of rabbit we lost some years back - on reflection given what the vet thought etc. we should have taken the option to end his and our agony earlier

  4. Furtheron,
    It's all so clear in hindsight, isn't it? I won't make this mistake again.

  5. Linda - hindsight really is 20/20 and you thought that you were doing what was best for Fancy. again, i am sorry that you went through all of this. i know how it feels to do everything you can to save a pet, only to have them and yourself go through agony during the process. loving thoughts being sent your way!

    your friend,

  6. kymber,
    I just hope that somehow I made her ill, little end-of-life better at the end. At least she was warm, able to have liquids, and did not have to jump up and down to her nest and bed. I hope my touch did not hurt her swollen body.Thanks for the sentiments and for understanding.


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