Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, 17 Barker Road, Lebanon, CT, 06249

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Majestic Diary

August 15, 2008

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 night.

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 feather loss.

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.


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 apart...

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 him.

I remember...

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...

And under his shady tree...

Under a shady tree, you and me,
Under a shady tree, you and me...



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