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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of my best friends for over 20 years now has been a lutino cockatiel named Whitey. For those who don't know cockatiels, he looks similar to these guys:<br><br><br><br><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Captive.jpg" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Captive.jpg</a><br><br><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Our_Ruby_Eyed_Cockatiel.jpg" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:O..._Cockatiel.jpg</a><br><br><br><br>
It may sound silly, but this little guy and I have been through a lot together. For the first 5 years, he lived with my mom and I, until I left for college. Whenever I came back for a break, he was always so happy to see me. During my senior year, my mom died, and Whitey came to live with me at school. We both coped with the loss by clinging to each other.<br><br><br><br>
I actually became very depressed, between her death and having a hard time getting started in my career after finishing school. It was knowing that another little creature was counting on me to take care of him that kept me going, and helped me recover from that depression.<br><br><br><br>
More recently, he convinced me to become a vegetarian. As an animal lover, I've been sympathetic and respectful of vegetarians for some time, but I just never thought I could become one. But I read an article on the internet about how intelligent chickens are, and I thought of my little bird-brain best friend. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> If he can have a distinct personality and know how to communicate with me in ways that he and I understand, then even bigger birds with bigger brains must be even smarter. That's the first time that I saw farm animals as intelligent living things with their own unique personalities instead of "just animals", and I swore I'd never eat chicken again. Giving up eating other animals just came naturally from there.<br><br><br><br>
As I said, we've been through a lot together, and he's really had a huge impact on my life.<br><br><br><br>
In recent years, the little guy has started showing major signs of age. He'll be 21 soon, which is very old for his species, so it's not surprising.<br><br><br><br>
He's had a recurring stuffed up nose for about 7 or 8 years now. He went blind in stages, starting around 6 years ago. Each time his vision got worse, he got depressed and stopped eating for a couple of days. When he finally went completely blind, he didn't eat for a week. The vet told me that if we couldn't get him to start eating again, he would die of starvation slowly and painfully after about a month, so he'd be better off if we just put him out of his misery, unless he started eating again soon. I had just about resigned myself to doing this, when my "bonking his mouth with food" method finally paid off, and he started chowing down.<br><br><br><br>
Since then, he's figured out how to get to his food and water bowls without being able to see, by just following the edges of his playpen (he's not caged). He's quieter these days, but he's still a stubborn little thing, telling me what he wants by chirping and body language. His basic personality is still intact after all these years and all these problems.<br><br><br><br>
Lately, he's started having "episodes" that the vet thinks might be mini-strokes. He sits there rocking back and forth and doesn't even seem to notice when I touch him or pick him up. It lasts maybe 10-15 minutes, and then he's normal again.<br><br><br><br>
Today, his head started tilting to the left, and he's had problems balancing. Not major problems, but enough to be noticeable. By the time I got home from work and saw this, it was too late to take him to the vet today. I called the vet's emergency number to talk to her, and he sat there eating and grooming himself while I was on the phone, so we know he's relatively ok.<br><br><br><br>
Again, his personality's still intact, despite another physical problem.<br><br><br><br>
It's tough watching someone you love get old and sick. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/sad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":("> I've been through this too many times lately, with all of my grandparents getting old, having all sorts of physical problems, and even losing their minds (literally) in the case of two of them. Three of my four grandparents have died in recent years. My last grandmother and my feathered friend are both showing lots and lots of signs of aging, but they seem to have one thing in common: They're both too stubborn to ever actually die. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br><br><br>
Sorry for the long post, but I guess seeing him leaning over like this just freaked me out. I can't even count the number of times I've worried in recent years that I'd wake up in the morning or come home to find Whitey lying dead on the floor. He's being his normal self tonight, though, despite leaning to the left and having minor balancing issues. We cuddled tonight, he had a good dinner, and he's been grooming, which are all signs of normalcy. He even bit me for not scratching his neck exactly like he wanted, which is something that's normal for his unique personality.<br><br><br><br>
Given all that, I feel pretty secure that I won't wake up in the morning to find him dead. I keep telling him that since I went vegetarian, I don't allow any dead animals in my home, so he's not allowed to die. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D"><br><br><br><br>
--Fromper<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/juggle.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":juggle:">
 

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wow. I'm sorry to hear what you are going through. Its hard watching someone age and move toward their invevitable end. I'm experiencing the same thing with my elderly cat, who I've had since middle school (I'll be 30 this year). Its traumatic for sure. Just keep him comfortable and healthy, and don't let him suffer. Many people have trouble letting animalls (or people for that matter) go because of selfish reasons rather than whats best for the animal. I've experienced that once before, and have vowed not to let my cat suffer needlessly. I hope your bird a bit more journly left in him ( I love birds - I have a sun conure that I adore!).
 

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How wonderful is the person who loves a bird! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> Not silly at all. I am right by your side as a huge bird lover! (I know there are many others on this board as well!) I have never owned any birds at home but I was owned by many birds when I worked with birds at the zoo.<br><br><br><br>
Leaving that job was one of the most difficult things I have done, I felt like I was abandoning 100 pets! I got very attached to them and still think about them almost every day.<br><br><br><br>
It sounds like you have been an excellent companion to Whitey. 21 years is a ripe full age for a bird like Whitey.<br><br><br><br>
It is so tough to think your pets could be close to death. My cats aren't even sick but just thinking about them dying someday makes me cry hysterically. I think about how it would be: I would hold their furry paws and tell them how much I love them and that I hoped that I made their lives wonderful. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/bigcry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":cry:"> (no more..now I am starting to get misty...)<br><br><br><br>
Whitey is lucky to have a companion like you! I can just imagine what a wonderful bird he is by just reading your story.
 

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awww, it's touching to read how much you care about Whitey. I know how you feel a bit, we had a death scare with my cat Pesto in December and she is part of why I am veg today. I know how much our little babies can affect us. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> Good luck with everything.
 

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I'm sorry, Fromper. I hope Whitey continues to improve, bit by bit.<br><br><br><br>
I know it's hard to hear, but in the end the kindest thing you can do for your animals is let them go when they need to, not when you are ready (which no-one ever will be, lets face it), and make sure they go safe, warm, and knowing you loved them, as my ratties did.<br><br><br><br>
Hugs to you and Whitey!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
He's doing better now. That first night, when I came home and his head was all lopsided, he had me very worried. But he's been eating and grooming normally, and chirping for attention, so those are good signs. And his head isn't nearly as lopsided any more. I think it may have only been temporary, though he still faces a little to the left all the time now.<br><br><br><br>
I took him to the vet again today, to have her look at him and flush out his stuffy nose (again). He seems to be relatively stable overall. The one thing that worries me is that he seems to be losing weight every time we weigh him at the vet. He's lost around 20% of his body weight in the past 6 months. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/sad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":("><br><br><br><br>
She recommended that I give him grey millet in his food, since that'll help him fatten up a little. She also gave me a sample of a digestive enzyme to add to his food. Since he seems to be eating normally, he might just not be digesting everything he eats, so that enzyme will help with that.<br><br><br><br>
Thanks for all the responses. I'm still hoping this little guy will be with me for a long time to come. His 21st bird-day is coming up at the end of the month, and I remember a few years ago thinking it would be a miracle if he made it to 16 (when he first went blind).<br><br><br><br>
--Fromper<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/juggle.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":juggle:">
 

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There's a remote possibility your pet is suffering from a vitamin deficiency. Be aware, bird seed that includes vitamins don't always do the trick. The vitamins that are added to the seed is basically coated on the outside of the seed. When the bird shucks off the hull, the vitamins don't find their way into the bird. You might try a vitamin supplement added to Whitey's water. You can get it in liquid or powder form. I have zebra finches and know the trials of caring for birds. Also, if you ever give him medication, it's essential to suppliment it with vitamins. Birds carry some nutrients in their gut and some medications, for example, antibiotics, will destroy those nutrients. You can actually starve a bird to death with medication. In any case, the best of luck to Whitey and you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, he made it to his 21st birthday. I'll buy him a beer now that he's old enough to drink. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/laugh.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":lol:"><br><br><br><br>
He's still leaning a tiny bit to the left, but it's not noticeable any more. And he hasn't had any more "episodes". I still worry about the little guy, but he's grooming and eating normally, and chirping for snacks and attention when I'm around, so I know he's doing ok.<br><br><br><br>
I'm going out of town for Easter weekend, and he's going to stay with the vet, so we'll see if he's lost more weight when I take him there. I've been trying to encourage him to eat more, and I think it's working, so hopefully he hasn't lost any more.<br><br><br><br>
--Fromper<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/juggle.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":juggle:">
 

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Conrats and Happy Bird-day Whitey! I have a young guy myself, a 2 year-old pied cockatiel. Quite a personality. I read this thread from the earliest post upwarda and was really happy to hear about the bird-day!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/yes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":yes:">
 

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Happy birthday, Whitey.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Capstan</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
There's a remote possibility your pet is suffering from a vitamin deficiency. Be aware, bird seed that includes vitamins don't always do the trick. The vitamins that are added to the seed is basically coated on the outside of the seed. When the bird shucks off the hull, the vitamins don't find their way into the bird.</div>
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Not to mention that a bird's tongue is dry, so he won't be intaking very much of the vitamins at all from a seed, either. But since Whitey is 21 years old now, I'm guessing that he is being fed alternative foods.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">You might try a vitamin supplement added to Whitey's water. You can get it in liquid or powder form.</div>
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Unless you are changing the water every few hours, don't add supplements to water. Bacteria grows very quickly, and even more so in warmer weather.
 
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