To the Vet

Happy New Year everyone! Yesterday, Mary and I celebrated by taking a car trip to the vet. I filled a big cardboard box with pine shavings, jabbed many holes into the sides for ventilation and breathing, and plopped a very displeased chicken into the bedding. I shut the top and gently put her securely in the back seat, with me sitting next to her and my father in the driver’s seat. I brought along a bag containing…

  • A journal of Mary’s observed symptoms for the past week
  • The bag of Duramycin 10
  • The Tylan 50
  • Chicken scratch and mealworms
  • Chicken feed
  • A towel (to keep everyone’s wings where they were supposed to be)

We received a few curious glances as we carried the big, hole-punched card board box into the tiny office, but were directed quickly to the examination room. The technician/ assistant gently placed Mary on a towel and pet her while the vet introduced himself, and took a closer look at the annoyed, fluffy, and sneezing chicken on the table. He placed his stethoscope under her wings to listen for rattling (which he didn’t hear), looked at her eyes and nose with a flash light, and even shoved a swab down her throat (though I have no earthly idea how he got it down there). After examining the throat swab results, he determined that the bacteria wasn’t there in horribly large amounts, which could be due to the Duramycin 10 I’ve been medicating her with.

He explained that this could be bacterial and require antibiotics, or it could be viral and run its course. There could just be something stuck up her nose that will break down over time and stop her sneezing and watery eyes. He decided to give me antibiotics to administer with an eye-dropper. He showed me how to grab her head and tilt it just so to angle a drop of the medicine in each eye and nostril. Yikes, she was not a fan. She struggles and shakes her head and whimpers, and it is extremely stressful, but I’m sure its a bit less stressful than giving medicine orally with a syringe.

Something terrifying did happen, however. When he plopped the antibiotics into her nose, one after the other, she didn’t have time to clear her air-ways. So I watched as she squeezed her eyes tightly, with her mouth gaping wide open, and saw her stiffly tilt forwards, as if she was dying right before my eyes. But she quickly recovered, shook her head and moved on.

I also got a probiotic powder to put in her water to replace all the beneficial bacteria that the antibiotic was killing.

Every morning and night for five(ish) days I’ll have to give her the antibiotic, and put her through the traumatizing event. I just hope it works!!

Mary

Mary… long before her trouble-making started 

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Sickness, Sadness and Stress

As I write this my attention wanders to a running mass of fur and teeth. A new puppy has entered the household. Before I go on, I’ll review the past week or two, which will clearly explain the title.

1 month ago A girl who lives a couple doors down in my sister’s dorm buys a little pug puppy, Boris, to keep her company. A Therapy Pug of sorts.

Three Weeks Ago She decides that managing a crazy puppy and school work isn’t possible. She meets my mother, an extreme lover of pugs, and sees how much she adores the puppy.

Two and a Half Weeks Ago… My sister texts my mother, asking if it would be okay to adopt the puppy into our home. My mother, against her better judgement, agrees.

Two Weeks Ago Wendell, our nine year old pug, gets sick. When I’m home alone, he leaps off of where he was sleeping on me, and runs in circles. He is clearly in pain, his tail is down, and he’s so very exhausted. I panic, and my neighbor brings Wendell and I to the animal hospital, where they decided that Wendell might have a slipped disc in his neck. They give him intense pain pills, and he is completely disoriented. A sadness hangs over our house, and dread creeps in as we remember we agreed to get another dog.

Two Days After Wendell visits his regular vet, who says it might be an inner ear infection. He gets antibiotics and continues to improve

That Thursday My mother and I drive three hours to my sister’s college to pick up Boris and my sister. He sleeps on the way home. Wendell and Boris meet outside our house in the dark. Both of them seemed submissive, and they hesitantly sniff each other’s butts, tails wagging all the while. When they go inside, chaos ensues, and Boris proceeds to complete several laps around the house. Wendell isn’t very pleased, and lets Boris know it by snapping at him when he overstepped his limits.

Thursday Night… The whole house awakens to mournful howling from Boris in his crate. This continues for all the nights following.

Wednesday I walk outside to my chickens and notice Mary has a strange bubbly discharge coming from an eye. Her breathing is rattling, and she sneezes several times as I watch in horror. Respiratory problems can sometimes be a death sentence for entire flocks. I grab Mary from where she sleeps that night and put her in a warm dog crate in the basement. I feed her bits of scrambled eggs. Meanwhile Wendell throws up a new antibiotic he was taking, and appears to be in pain. I feel so stressed that I might have a mental breakdown. Sadness once again covers the house

Thursday NightMy dad buys Duramycin 10, an antibiotic that goes in the chicken waterer for respiratory diseases in poultry. I make sure Mary drinks some. Yesterday was her first full day on it- No improvements yet.

So far I haven’t noticed any symptoms in my flock, but it is extremely likely that they will come down with the same illness.

The sickness Mary has is probably a form of a virus, in which case antibiotics will not help. What the Duramycin 10 does, is attempt to prevent any infections that might stem from the virus, which would be a very serious problem.

This Morning.. My mother woke me up, in tears, saying Wendell was not doing well. I went downstairs and he was lying down next to the fire, shaking with every breath in and out. He’s at the vet as I write this, and I can only hope and pray that he will have a few more happy, healthy years with us.

The relationships I have with my animals are strong. It might seem strange, but I look at Wendell like a sibling. He’s been around for much of my life, we have so many memories together. But when my animals get sick, my whole world seems to turn sour. Everything seems to darken, and I desperately want to be happy again. I cling to whatever shred of joy I have, I laugh too loudly at things I wouldn’t normally find funny. But the dread and terror of living without that sick animal is still within the pit of my stomach. Its like I’m sick as well. When Mary got sick, I regretted getting chickens for the first time. I asked myself, “How did you think you could do this? Can’t you see you’re doing a horrible job?” And I have no answers. Am I doing a horrible job? If you look at what has happened since May, the answer is yes. Two of my chicks died within a week, two turned out to be roosters. Mary swallowed my hair tie, Mabel ran away, Edith nearly ripped off Mary’s ear lobe, and now Mary is sick.