Today has been a bit pants to be honest, a nice lie in and cooked brunch turned bad when at lunchtime I went in to the back garden. One of the chickens, Anneka, has been ill and injuried for a while. She’s had treatment at a vet and medication, I was checking her scars daily. Giving her a full wash down with the hose on warm days, or a sponge bath on cooler days. Today was sunny. I hosed her down and was about to towel dry her. But she looked to be in pain, I checked the deep scar on her back. It appeared to have been healing the last few days but nope, it popped as I washed her, it was actually a deep abscess.
She closed her eyes and shook in pain. I tried to get her attention with her favourite food, but it was pointless. She had almost instantly given up on living. I called Blokey, his words echoed my thoughts. “Enough is enough, it’s not fair to wait for her to die. You know what we’ve got to do. Sorry.”
The medication that I applied to the wounds appeared to be working, it was healing – but only on the surface. I didn’t expect that. I wasn’t expecting to find a hole in her flesh, a crater going a few centimetres deep. Poor girl. As she was unable to move at all I put her in partial shade so she could feel the sun one last time and went inside to make a phone call I did not want to.
“Hi, I’m sorry this won’t be a pleasant call. I need you to kill my chicken. Something popped underneath a scar and now she’s in such pain she won’t open her eyes. She won’t acknowledge I am nearby, she won’t eat. I don’t want to say this, but I need a vet to end it for her. She’s got no chance of living, but I can’t watch her die slowly….”
“Please come in at 2pm, sorry it’s a bit of a wait as it’s busy today.”
I get Blokey to drive, I needed to hug my Anneka. Whilst he was driving Anneka was on my lap snuggled in a fluffy towel. Her head was pressed into the wobbly bit of my belly. I was stroking her head and long neck and she flapped her wings to get them out of the towel. She wasn’t trying to fly, just wasn’t comfortable. She stretched her wings out, then bought them down against me. She was hugging me, her face squished tightly towards me and her wings gently pulling on my hips.
We arrived at her destination and walk in. She’s still on my front, my arm is underneath her cradling her weight in a similar position as a baby is in a sling. Her wings are again holding me. With my other hand I’m gently stroking her face. People are looking at me funny. I feel socially awkward being looked at but I keep talking quietly to Anneka saying the pain was about to stop and kissed her.
Our vets is in a big pet shop at the back. It felt like a walk of shame, people raising their eyebrows as I walk through chatting to a bedraggled looking hen that is hugging me back and shaking her head. I get to the vet counter and it’s the busiest I’ve ever seen it. The waiting area had a few big dogs in, so I darent sit down. I stood there as Anneka silent fidgets into a new position, another pet parent looks me in the eye as I try not to cry, he didn’t speak but I felt him asking about my bird. I shake my head, he mouthed “sorry” and I had to look away to stop myself blubbering uncontrollably.
A space freed up in the “cat waiting area” so I sat down. The vet nurse made me a cuppa and said sorry to keep me waiting. I was shaking as much as Anneka, I didn’t want to do this, but knew I must. Twice staff came over with a cardboard box to use as a carrier, I refused both times. If Anneka’s last choice was to hug me I wasn’t putting her in a cold cardboard box. I hope they didn’t think me rude, I know they prefer their patients contained but she couldn’t fly, and couldn’t walk.
It said sorry for crying and being a “bit daft about a bird” but the nice lady corrects me straight away. “It’s not just a bird, it’s your bird and you clearly care” or something like that. I was too upset to remember clearly. Eventually I get into the vet room.
The door shuts and I explain. I say I don’t want to ask this but please finish it for her, she can’t recover from this. She’s so upset, so hurt that she was going into medical shock. The vets agreed with my opinion. I’d hoped that they might have a plan B, but no, they agreed she had no chance.
I sign forms, and kiss my chicken on her head and she curled her head across my arm, hooking her beak across my finger and pulling me in closer. It felt like she was also saying goodbye. They gas her to calm her before that injection. My poor birdie was shaking so much it was hard for the vets.
I left the room clutching two feathers that fell off as I was stroking her, but I left with empty arms.
This is all I have, a couple of feathers.