Friday, September 5, 2014

RIP, Beeps

As I briefly mentioned earlier, I made the very tough decision to euthanize Beeps on June 15, 2014.  This was a very tough decision, and I still miss him every day.  I probably will for the rest of my life.  He was only 16, and should have lived to at least 30.

I adopted Beeps almost accidentally.  I'd adopted Calypso in 2004 because he appeared to love Thomas while we were at the rescue.  If I'm being honest, at the time rescue caiques were quite rare, and I wanted to adopt Calypso partly because of that.

We got Calypso home, he recovered from his abusive home, and, once settled in, strongly preferred me.  (Perhaps he can sense sociopath?)  Thomas broke his femur when, in December 2005, Calypso latched on in a terrible bite.  Thomas walked over to the couch, pried Calypso off of him, but Calypso took an unfortunate bounce, landed on the floor, and broke his femur.  He was terrified of Thomas after that, even though I can't blame Thomas for prying off a bird who was grinding into his skin.  He even had the presence of mind to go to the couch to pry him off so Calypso would be cushioned.  This is not evidence of his sociopathy -- I have plenty of that!

In any case, I kept reading about how caiques get along with other caiques.  At the time, I was not as discerning about believing what I read on the Internet, so when another black-capped caique -- and one about the same age! -- was surrendered to the rescue in 2006, I decided to adopt him, too.  I had idyllic visions of the two of them sharing a cage, preening each other, etc.  But all of my grand plans were dashed when I got Beeps home and I realized that not only did he not get along with Calypso, but he also didn't get along with Max!

I had Beeps for just shy of 8 years, and much of that time was spent making sure that he neither attacked another parrot, nor was attacked by them.

Over the years, I grew to love him greatly (he was so adorable!)  I learned his quirks.  For example, he would launch flying attacks at me when I'd read a book on the couch.  I could read a magazine on the couch.  I could read a book anywhere else.  But when I'd grab a book and read it on the couch, he'd attack.  He'd also attack if anyone lifted their arms above their head.  He'd attack if I carried a Tupperware container in front of him.  The list of his triggers kept growing, and I abided by them in order to have a happy bird.  He was something else.  I loved him so.

He had a distinct whistle.  At the end, he'd shout "Pretty baby!"  If I did the whistle, he'd shout, "Pretty baby!"  This was the only way I could get him to speak on command.  He also had a demonic voice in which he'd start chanting, "Babycakes, babycakes..."  He only knew three words -- "pretty," "baby," and "cake/s," but he knew how to use them for full effect.

I'd noticed that he had trouble pooping.  He'd try, but nothing would come out.  Sometimes, poop would stick to his vent.  I took him to all of the avian vets (certified or not) in the city, but no one could figure out what was going on.  He still seemed to be his normal self, but parrots are masters at hiding illness.

One day in May, I came home from work, and he was listless and had prolapsed.  It looked like a red balloon was hanging out of his vent.  I rushed him the the emergency vet (who happens to be certified avian!)  She cleaned him up, fixed his prolapse, and stitched him close.

I moved him to a small, sleep cage so that he could recover.  I put the cage in my room, and we had a great last month.

He'd fly to my laptop as I was on the computer in bed:
He was not happy about the antibiotics and pain killers he had to take, but he dealt with it with aplomb.

We went to the vet several times a week, trying to figure out what was going on:
In the car, I'd play a CD of his favorite music and, when he wasn't too scared, he'd whistle along with me.

In the morning, I'd let him out to explore as I got ready for work.  Many times, I found him hanging out on my pillow:
After several weeks, and several thousands of dollars, his prolapsing kept continuing.  The vet said I could try a surgery with a less than 10% success rate.  I knew that he was suffering, and it wasn't fair to keep him alive for my selfish desires.

I made the very difficult decision to euthanize him.  As I'm typing this, nearly three months later, reliving it is bringing many tears to my eyes.  I'm so sad this his parents were captured and that he was born in captivity.  He deserved to live in South America, in a large flock of caiques.  He deserved to be able to have a family and fly free.  Instead, because of selfish humans, he wound up in my home.  An unnatural environment for a parrot, and an environment that eventually caused his death.

Here is the last picture I took of him. The vet allowed us as much time as we needed to say goodbye.  I had grabbed a tissue and placed it in the palm of my hand.  I was trying so hard to be strong for him; so that he wouldn't sense my sadness and feel sacred or sad.  Inquisitive as ever, he found the tissue and made a toy out of it.
I called my parents to let them know what had happened.  They drove the hour to see and comfort me.  My mom had brought a special cloth to use as a shroud.  My dad dug Beeps's grave, and I placed him in my back yard.  I put a paving stone over where he lay.

They also helped me to clean his cage and move it to the basement.  I wasn't up to the task alone. I had Beeps's toys in a bag, and parts of his cage still in my living room.  Calypso paid Beeps homage by walking over to the debris and making sad sounds while ritualistically bobbing up and down.
Since Beeps's untimely death, Max has started making his whistle.  She never did this when he was alive.  Even though Calypso and Max didn't get along with him while he was alive, Beeps was still  part of their flock.  I showed them his lifeless body, hoping they'd understand.

I miss Beeps so much.  I know I made the right decision -- I consulted with my most bird-savvy friends/acquaintances.  I couldn't keep him alive and suffering just for me.  Yet sometimes I am still overwhelmed with sadness that I couldn't make this right.  A feeling that I failed him.  I loved him so much, and I truly believe that he was as happy as a captive parrot can be.  I will miss him every day for the rest of my life, and I always look where he is buried and think about what an amazing being he was.

He survived some of the most horrible abuse I'd ever heard of (before he came to me.)  He was a survivor.  I am so lucky to have known him.


Elizabeth said...

I'm so sorry about Beeps. He's so lucky to have lived his remaining years with you.

Christine Lee said...

I am sorry about Beeps, but please feel comforted in the fact that he had many happy loving years with you.
I recently lost my beloved Caique too, and felt overwhelmed with sadness as I read about Beeps.

Mary said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I miss him so much.

Christine -- I am so sorry that you recently lost a caique as well. It is just so, so tough. Sending you hugs.

ra husky said...

We stopped to paw our condolences, soft wooooos,


Beloved Parrot said...

Oh Mary, I just now came across this post. I am so sorry you lost Beeps. Yes, he belonged in his native land, but at least he had you and knew the best of human love.