Pictures of Pudgy
This week I lost my amazing little parakeet 'Pudgy', who had been going through a string of mysterious sicknesses
since last year. It was a really frustrating time for me. Going to the vet over and over with strange symptoms, only to put Pudgy on another medicine without any clear diagnosis. In the end it would just seem he was particularly susceptible to bacterial infections for unknown reasons.
Pudgy started off as a companion for my parrotlet Snowy, who I lost last year
. I didn't know much about parrotlets, and I didn't know anything about budgies. I remember thinking that they looked really strange to me with their pronounced cere, small beak, and long tail. Snowy the parrotlet was very lonely at the time; he was alone at home in his giant cage, and when I got back from work he would look depressed. One day I went out and got Pudgy.
It was probably a usual pet store scene, with giant cages filled with budgies. There were so many colors, how would I choose one? I decided to just hold each bird the staff could pick up from the cage, and see how it behaved. The first two immediately flew away and the staff needed a giant net to catch them. Pudgy was the third little guy. I remember he perched on my finger and just gave me that sideways, inquisitive look. He chirped happily and shook his tail. I laughed and after a few minutes knew he was the bird for me.
The truth was though, that Snowy had the spotlight. I had already fallen in love with parrotlets. Why I got a parakeet instead of a parrotlet for Snowy I don't remember. Perhaps I wanted variety? Or because of the low cost? Or I was worried two parrotlets would not get along? Whatever the case, Pudgy came home with me. I believe I at least followed the advice of some experts and put him in a separate cage until they seemed to get along. I never really had a name for Pudgy. I have actually spelled it here in the forums as both 'Pudgy' and 'Pudgie'. I have always called my birds 'Birdy' for some reason. Pudgy got his name from a friend who misheard 'Budgie' and kept forgetting it was a 'B', not a 'P'.
Pudgy and Snowy were an immediate smash hit. Snowy completely came out of her depression while I was at work. She seemed to be a different bird entirely. Pudgy was like a happy middle child, just having fun and getting along with everyone. One of my favorite things to do was watch Pudgy fly around. Although graceful and acrobatic in the cage, for whatever reason he flew around like a mangled helicopter! He sounded like one too! He was easily the most clumsy flier I had seen, and didn't seem to care. He seemed to straight up embrace it as a circus act. Snowy would gracefully fly around with Pudgy recklessly trailing after her. Snowy would land delicately on a picture frame or wall; Pudgy would crash-land on the ground or knock Snowy off the picture frame trying to land.
One horrible day in January 2018, I really messed up. I still think about it daily and feel terrible. I took Snowy's tameness for granted and lazily opened my door slightly to get the mail. Snowy zoomed off into the horizon. The temperature was below freezing. I spent days searching for Snowy but she was gone. I was in a complete state of shock, disbelief, denial, anger, grief. I had only Pudgy left in my cage. I remember the day I lost Snowy, watching Pudgy in the cage. He didn't understand what had happened, but looked confused. I watched him eating some seeds and looking around as if to say, 'Where is that annoying parrotlet tho steals my food??' After a day or two, Pudgy became very depressed about Snowy leaving. He stopped making his usual happy chirping sounds. He perched in the corner of his cage completely frozen. I was devastated about Snowy and seeing Pudgy like that made it so much worse.
The tragedy of losing Snowy completely changed my relationship with Pudgy. While before he had been Snowy's 'sidekick' and a goofball, now he was all I had left. I started spending a lot more time with Pudgy and learned about the intricacies of his personality. Although he would never be as tame as Snowy, I was proud the day the vet told me, 'Wow, this budgie is really tame. You must be doing a good job with him!' The day when Pudgy no longer 'fled' from my finger while perching was just awesome. He was comfortable and happy enough to just sit on my finger for up to an hour. One day he trusted me enough to let me hand-feed him people food.
Eventually I got a second parrotlet named 'Violet'. I was really set on getting another parrotlet, but I also should have known better about trying to pair the two species as cagemates. Still, they gone along amazingly well- even better than Snowy and Pudgy had. They developed a really close bond. Violet never really bonded with me, because she had Pudgy from the start. They slept together, ate together, groomed each other, played games, and made fun chirping noises. I lived happily here with Violet and Pudgy for over a year.
I always absolutely loved the noises Pudgy made. There was his 'standard budgie high-low chirp', his 'quack-quack-quack!!' excited chirp, and my favorite of all.. his 'low-high, wavering, water whistling chirp'. I can't really even explain that sound. He made it usually when content. He imitated phone camera snap sounds from the iPhone. It was almost perfect and when having company over people would think somebody was taking pictures!
Pudgy had a hilarious habit at the food bowl- as expected, Violet would try to play 'alpha female' and steal the food bowl, so I put two in there. Pudgy would acrobatically jump between them, anticipating Violet's next move. It drove her crazy! She had only gone to the food bowl at many times just to bully Pudgy, and he made it impossible. I would always laugh seeing him eat a few seeds and jump to the other bowl while Violet looked on in confusion.
When perching on my shoulder Pudgy always had a funny way of walking around it. It was as if he didn't understand what his orientation was supposed to be. He would end up running around in these little circles, not knowing which way to face. He usually ended up standing halfway on my neck, facing the back of my head, which always looks hilarious. Like he was trying to see through my head or something.
When Pudgy flew around, he often crash landed in some unexpected area. Unlike my other birds who apparently wanted to play hide-and-seek with me for 2 hours, Pudgy would make all kinds of exotic noises. There he would be, buried under a pile of clothes or behind a piece of furniture, making his cute little chirping sounds.
This last Christmas, I visited my parents with Pudgy and Violet for a week. They really loved being in such a giant house, compared to my tiny apartment here. While both of them had their wings clipped, it was just enough so they could not fly 'up', but fly horizontally for a ways. As you could expect, my lovely birdies stole the show. All my cousins and nieces and nephews just couldn't get enough of Violet and Pudgy. It was a great time. After Christmas though, my mom got a nasty case of pneumonia out of nowhere. It was a scary situation as she is in her 70s. On New Years Eve, we rushed her to the hospital, thinking she was having a heart problem. For weeks she was in pretty bad shape. Some people even speculated that she had avian flu. It was a relief then to hear that they cultured her infection and it was 'community pneumonia'. My mom recovered from the sickness thank God.
Around this time is when I noticed Pudgy getting sick again. After coming back from my parents, he was never the same! By this time he could not fly at all, and I started noticing his diminishing feather quality. He fell off his perch and shivered often. Violet seemed to get increasingly aggressive as he got weaker. I often separated them when I left home and went to sleep. The cycle of antibiotics from the vet started. Pudgy absolutely hated antibiotics and/or the dropper needle. He would clamp his beak shut and make it miserable for me to give him the medicine. Even after the medicine was in his mouth, he would let it drool down the side of his face. I had to get it under his tongue, and slowly push the plunger, waiting for him to finally swallow!
I then posted here to the forums asking for advice on his illness. This is when I started to understand that he had a more serious problem. One day in February, Pudgy became extremely ill out of nowhere. I came home from work and he was on the bottom of the cage, completely puffed up, shivering, and barely moving. I thought he was dead for sure. I carried him to the vet that night and prepared to say goodbye. The vet prescribed yet another course of antibiotics and sent me home. I was surprised. The next day, Pudgy seemed 100x better. I was shocked that he had survived, and it led to us having a far greater bond. I started thinking that I was on borrowed time with Pudgy. Surely there was some underlying problem. The amazing people in the forums here spelled it out for me numerous times. Therefore I lived every day with Pudgy as if it would be his last.
I'm so grateful for having those last 3 months with Pudgy. Every day I played with him for hours. I fed him various foods and watched him clumsily walk around my apartment. I put him on my lap and he went to sleep. I put him on my shoulder and walked around so he could investigate my apartment. Around this time he learned how to find my bedroom. It was an interesting thing to see this sick bird suddenly learning a new skill like that. He had previously just walked around aimlessly until I picked him up. Now he headed directly for my bedroom door, wiggling his tail. He tried to get to the cage but it was too high, so he would just be content to sit on the lower part of it near the wheels until I picked him up.
The last week with Pudgy was really, really difficult. Various, terrible symptoms had started up. He was clearly starting to suffer, and I absolutely hated it. As of right now, I have slept maybe 10 hours total in the last week. I am a complete zombie. While he was sick, I put his box next to my bed. Every 20-30 minutes, he would start freaking out, making alarming budgie noises or a whimpering noise. His whimpering noise absolutely destroyed me inside. I could not bear to hear him suffering. I picked him up and he would usually calm down. I fed him millet and gave him dropper water every hour or two since he could not drink himself. After almost a week on antibiotics, his condition had not much improved. He was eating but still losing weight. Most of his other symptoms had not changed. I finally consulted a second vet about his condition, who was in concurrence with the good people here that it was time to help Pudgy move on. It was so much harder of a decision than I had thought. I really, really wanted him to make it through. Even having the extra 3 months. When it came down to it, the decision was incredibly difficult.
After Pudgy moved on, it absolutely crushed me. I am not a particularly emotional person, and I have been deliriously upset. The poor little guy who was only 2-3 years old, suffering so much at the end. After being the most faithful pet. Who never caused any problems. Who never hurt anybody or anything. He just wanted to happily live his life eating seeds, chirping, flying around, and playing. I feel extraordinarily guilty right now for making an end-of-life decision about Pudgy. Was it my place? Did he want to live? Even with the various consultations I can't help but feel horrible about it, like I played God and what right did I have? He was such a fighter. I know it was the right thing to do, but the guilty feelings remain.
So many people don't understand pets, and especially parrots. I wouldn't have guessed in 100 years when I was younger that of all creatures, a little parakeet would steal my heart. What a ridiculous concept! Yet here I am, losing Pudgy and Snowy has been like losing a family member. A giant hole in my heart and my life. It's a weird thing, love and death. One seems to balance the other. What happiness you get from these amazing little guys, is equated somehow at least temporarily, by the crushing emotions of losing them. Still, I don't regret a second of having any of my birds. I only wish I had made smarter decisions and been more proactive.
Well goodbye my dear Pudgy. The bond we developed was far greater than I imagined. I only wish you had more time here. You deserved more than 2 years but you burned bright through all of it.
Thanks for reading and to the selfless veterans here who help us new bird owners, you're amazing.