I couldn't sleep last night, and for no apparent
reason. Just stressed over something, but not
sure what. I stayed up on the couch most of the
This morning when I woke up, I brought Isabel
to summer daycare and then went out to the barn.
I went through the normal routine, letting all
the ladies out and then went in Elijah's kennel
to give him his morning dose of medicine. He
looked exceptionally white, so I thought maybe
he was feeling better and preening well in
response. I squatted down over him and he
proceeded to hug, hug, hug me up! I could barely
get the medicine down.
And then I picked him up and carried him to
the pond, since he can't easily make the walk.
He flapped his wings as always, pretending to
fly and as we headed through the grass, his wing
feathers all began tumbling out. I set him on
the pond and looked back at the feathery trail.
Elijah was no longer enjoying swim time. I
noticed this two days ago. He could no longer
maneuver from water to shore easily any more and
he wasn't floating properly either. He reminded
me of Joseph, the way he swam... like a little
tug boat. And where he used to rule the waters,
playfully chasing all the girls but Jezebel off
of the pond, claiming it as his own, I noticed
that the girls were pushing him around.
I helped him off of the pond and brought him
up to Aladdin's pen. They got along great
together. Elijah, the wise old mentor, Aladdin
his doting protégé. I went inside and worked on
my book for a while and then I went on the
internet to see what I could find about sudden
We've been fighting Elijah's staph infection
in his leg and toe joints for over a month. His
progressive arthritis and tendency to plop down
and relax in one cozy spot brought on infection
to the joints. Tetracycline had proven to harsh
and made him very ill, so after 2 weeks we had
switched to Clindamycin to give that a try. I
wanted to check and see if the drug had any side
effects that could make his feathers fall out so
suddenly. I couldn't find anything there, so I
began searching parrot sites and then finally
ended up at Merck's online vet manual.
Elijah already had a 4:30 appointment. We
were set to go and draw another culture from his
swollen toe to see if the drugs were having any
effect on the staph infection. After reading
Merck's, I called the vet. Advanced staph
infection leads to necropsis in the skin of the
wings that make feathers drop out...
gangrenous results following.
DEAR GOD, NO...
Vet arrangements switched from a culture to
saying good-bye and I only had hours to prepare.
I called Tony and i called Glynis and fell
I went back outside and brought my camera
with me. I took photos and videos of him. Then I
went out in the woods and uncovered dozens of
giant nightcrawlers and brought them back to
I remember when Elijah first came with a
dozen other Pekin ducks. I remember hearing an
odd quack in the barn and not being able to
discern who it was coming from. It was deep and
hoarse. I liked it! Elijah, Jonah and Fiona were
among a few that went to a foster site for a few
weeks until a few adoptions went through. The
quack went away. A few weeks later, the trio
came back and there was that quack again. Still,
I could not pinpoint whether it was Jonah or
Elijah. Whenever I came forward to watch and
listen, they would stop and hold silent. it was
like getting near crickets, and then as soon as
I walked away, they would both start quacking
again. It was like they were teasing me. I
didn't find my answer until Gini and David came
with Lucy duck. She couldn't seem to choose
between Elijah and Jonah, so they chose Elijah
for her. He had a limp and they had a very flat
lawn and could accommodate his special needs.
When he left, I realized the quack had been
his... and I missed it. After the raccoon attack
they brought him back to us. It was past 10
o'clock on a Friday night. They came in the
front door with him. He quacked. It was him!
God, how I missed that quack. I would never let
him go again... or so I thought...
Everyday walking down the hill for three more
years, I heard that quack. He was always the
first to hear me coming and the first to
respond. That deep, hoarse quack. I sat with my
video camera and captured it yet again,
devastated that I was about to lose it again. Is
that the sound I'll hear someday when it's my
time to cross over? Will Elijah's quack resound
in heaven to greet me?
Tony and I met at the vet office and after
speaking with Dr. Melgey, he agreed that his
health was declining extremely fast. Our fear
was that his blood infection would turn deadly
in the middle of the night, or on Sunday when no
vets on duty would be willing to step in and
euthanize. We could not let that happen to
Elijah. He was obviously struggling, and even
struggling to hide that he was struggling--as
ducks always do in self defense.
I hugged him while the Dr. left to prepare.
His head draped over my shoulder. He knew it was
coming; he was scared. I squeezed him and held
him and embraced him with all of my heart and
soul. I promised him Glory and Joven and Fiona
and Destiny would be there along with Qwaka and
maybe even Daphnee, even though she was onlly
with us for two weeks before having to go...
The injection was given and I found myself in
that place again... drawing him close and having
to let him go. Glory's spirit too close in the
rearview mirror. Too soon. I cupped his head in
my hands and whispered into his ear and hugged
him and he slowly eased into sleep, but he did
not let go. The Dr. came in to check and then
left to give him a little more time. My head was
splitting from the tears and the pain and my
stomach was on the verge of losing itself. I
went through tons of tissue, crying and
whispering and hugging and petting that comatose
boy. The Dr. came back and gave him another
injection to help him take that final step over.
I held Elijah's head in my hand and looked
into his eyes and kissed him and then suddenly
felt him go. "He's gone," I told Tony and I
looked over at his wings. They rose and fell no
more. I felt the moment his spirit left him.
And now I will never hear that deep and
hoarse quack when I go down to the barn. And now
I will never see that squinty eye and happy
Fluff-O-Nutter boy swimming on the pond, laying
in the grass under his shade tree, basking in
the sun or cozy in the hay of the barn anymore.
Please forgive me, my dear boy... you have
given me more than I could ever give you. And I
am so sorry for what those people once did to
you when they left you on that pond one day. But
although they broke your body, they never broke
your spirit. And that spirit came to me and it
warmed me like the sun and I will never, never
forget you. And I am so glad that you came to be
with us and make our lives something that they
had not been before. You meant everything to us
and to the other ducks in this sanctuary. You
brought peace to us all. May that peace finally
come to you...
Elijah in his final hours spends a
little time with Jezebel...