Dexter died Saturday, April 14, 2012, in the evening at a pet emergency care center, suffering cardiac arrest after a first attempt to administer fluid therapy intravenously. He was 2 years old (approximately). I didn't recall the exact date I got him from the pet store, I just remember it was in the first half of 2010, and he was already a few weeks old. He was my 4th parakeet, the one that stuck, that I thought would live forever under my care. Of the first 3, 1 died and 2 escaped. I got Dexter from a human-weened shop, so he took to people. Except for not liking hands, being touched or held, which I did occasionally, he had no problems with people. He was a talker, and would banter endlessly if anyone was in the room. He picked up many of my words and expressions, and quirks (like clearing my throat), and had his own spin on them. I thought he could have a comedy show, he would get so wired when spewing his speak... "Dexter, Dexter! Wanna go beddy by, nighty night?! Dexter, Dexter! Are you a good boy? Yes you are! Come here, boy. Give me a kiss, give me a kiss. Smoochhhhh! Dexter, Dexter! " etc. etc. And this would go on while he was playing with his bells, sometimes to his reflection, or if he was on my shoulder while driving.
He was such a gentle, good-natured bird. Sometimes I felt like he was lonely since he didn't have company during the days so I had intended to get him a partner/friend. I don't think he would have had any problem sharing his cage with another bird. Sometimes I would take him to the pet store and let him play on the outside of the cage with other birds. He would attract the other parakeets with his strange sounds (words) but never showed aggression even when I sensed other birds were being aggressive to him. He was a highly intelligent, well-mannered bird that I cared for deeply. I live alone with him for most of his life, and with no other birds bonded with me exclusively and was very affectionate, (for example, nibbling on my ear and making small chirping noises), although he was cordial with other people as well.
I didn't have any major problems with him, no illnesses or accidents. I did have a few escapes though. Early in his life I would let him outside my porch and into the yard and his wings were generally clipped. I thought I lost him for good when he was AWOL for 1 entire day. I was in an open space area (approximately 40 acres) where my house was being constructed and I stupidly took him out of my car in the open. He got spooked and took flight and just seemed to disappear into this large field. The wind must have taken him too, but I could only see the general direction he flew. I combed this field as much as possible over the next day. There was even a thunder and lightning storm that evening which I assumed would complicate things more. The next day before work I rode my mountain bike one last time around this open area calling his name. I thought I heard his chirp (voice) and soon realized he was in a tree grove. Upon seeing me he flew down to me.
The last few weeks have been a blur, but I’m reflecting on some things and wondering what I could have done to make things different. My partner and daughter moved in my home in January from California. My daughter is 1 ½ and a big concern of mine had been Dexter’s safety around her, especially since her mother liked to have Dexter come close to her. But my daughter developed and became very good with Dexter. Her mother also got more of an affinity for him, although initially she expressed a callous attitude (“your dumb bird”) and didn’t like it when he would be on the “attack” during mealtime and all fear of humans was lost
Overall the dynamics were going well, and recently I thought Dexter’s change in behavior was a result of that. Over the last month or so he has been very quiet, seldom a chatterbox like he used to. I thought he was possibly adapting to a new environment, or quieter because my child is generally the center of attention. I had less time for Dexter, but I did acknowledge him regularly and he was still playful, spry, ate well, etc. I didn’t really think a bird could be depressed that “it wasn’t the same as before”, he was just going through some transition. Also the last few weeks he had bonded more with my partner. She worked from home and he was flying into her office, and staying on her shoulder/desk the last few weeks especially.
But maybe he was getting sicker and this is why he needed constant companionship. The vet stated he was not at the weight he should be and his bony breastplate demonstrated this. I hadn’t noticed any weight difference from before, but maybe this occurred over the last few weeks. He didn’t have an appetite problem so I was perplexed. Had I been replenishing his food frequently enough? The vet said from my description I had, so how did he get sick?
I first thought he got sick exactly on that day since I had a monthly maid service cleaning that morning. I was out but when I came back early afternoon Dexter was glued to my partner’s shoulder burrowed into her neck. That was when I knew something was wrong. I hadn’t noticed in the few days before but hardly saw him the day before, could only remember the previous day when he was “harassing” us during dinner. Apparently he was not out of his cage so I’m convinced he wasn’t poisoned that day. One thing that has been gnawing at me is my partner stated he would be in the bathroom near her office for hours during the day and not in his cage, pecking around. I was upset she hadn’t told me of the severity of this and hadn’t done anything about it (like closing the door). I thought he may have ingested something during these visits. But it is all speculation.
I’ll never know how Dexter died, or why. Was it something external that could have ultimately been avoided, or was it internal, like a tumor, that was inevitable? Was the changes in my household the last few months part of the reason? Before Dexter was in clear focus, it was just me and him, but after I couldn’t detect nor monitor the physical and behavioral changes that took place. Perhaps if I’d caught it a week sooner things would be different.
We buried him in the backyard near the rose garden. We attempted a funeral that would impart the notion to our daughter that Dexter was gone, and would not be coming back (i.e. it was “open casket”). This was my attempt at closure, although I’ve been mildly depressed the last few days. It is hard to understand how such a small creature can have such a huge impact on someone.
A strange thing happened yesterday, the day after Dexter’s passing. There had been a big storm in the morning, rain, wind, etc. and I found the damnest thing by my garage door. The pest service I use had placed a few of these insect traps (strong glue paper) in the garage and somehow a wild bird (sparrow?) was caught in it. I couldn’t believe this, was the bird going after the dead insects, did the storm injure the bird, or what!? This was a bad situation getting worse so I grabbed the bird/paper, found a pool of water, and had to carefully but decisively remove the bird from the paper. I wasn’t sure if the bird could survive, it was a mess. Several feathers removed, it couldn’t fly much less walk. I had a bare underbelly from the glue. Fortunately, I had all of Dexter’s cages/food so I kept it overnight and cleaned it up a bit. Other than what appears to be a broken leg, and missing feathers, the bird appears healthy. He is now on route to a rehabilitation specialist, and I’ve asked that the bird be released where I found him if he recovers. This crazy coincidence baffles me but does offer some kind of cathartic resolution strangely enough. Maybe it’s the World’s way of saying Let Go and Move On.