I probably shouldn’t have had the two glasses of wine at tonight’s preschool fundraising auction (which was, by all accounts, a resounding success). The drinks’ effects of temporary well-being and laughter were appreciated at the time and made the evening repast all the smoother. Now, a few hours later, I worry about potential depressive effects. I am already sad in that kind of way that can keep you up at night; upset about something that I can’t solve nor, in these few minutes any way, finish working through.
I am speaking of course of the grave injuries to our two laying hens by neighbor dogs – one attack occurring Tuesday, and the other early this morning (by the same dogs)*. Both hens were savaged but intact enough for the veterinarian to advise treatment and rehabilitation (as opposed to euthanasia). The vet bill would be almost comical for me to recount here (and may in fact increase before all is said and done) – suffice to say that should these hens survive, these will be very special eggs we will be enjoying. Currently we have two separate avian hospital cubicles set up in the steady warmth of my sewing room. We are cooking up oatmeal and yogurt, delivering injections (this takes getting used to), and providing fresh water and lots of rest for our girls.
Our sad little episode has gone out to the world at large and I’ve received a number of loving messages and well-wishes. The vast number of comments have been supportive and sweet; a very few have been rather unhelpful or just plain depressing to recount. Yes, I expected something bad might happen to the animals under my care. No animal lover brings a creature into the home expecting the animal will outlive the owner – exotic parrots and large tortoises notwithstanding. I am reminded of little Peeperton 1, the chick who died only a few days after my father succumbed to cancer. I cried off and on for a full day, feeling as though the loss of this tiny ounce of fluff was more than I could stand. I remember little Baby, the silly black and white kitten we had for only a few short months before she succumbed to a mysterious degenerative nerve disorder (we also spent hundreds on her in attempting to diagnose, treat, and care for her; these dollars neither Ralph nor I regretting in the slightest). After letting this sweet little kitten get the death needle in the vet’s office, and stroking her fur while she stopped breathing, Ralph and I half-stumbled outside with our hands empty. He and I sat in my little red pickup truck and cried together, sagging in our seats next to one another. A week later we received a card from the vet, handwritten and conveying sympathies. I remember how very touched we were this veterinarian – who’d presumably seen a lot of death and loss – would reach out to us.
Our hens are still with us. They may indeed live. It is hard for me to see their injuries and be unsure of their survival. Bluster seems to be out of the woods (although she won’t be winning any prizes at the Fair this year with her bare-plucked ass and scars!). Sophie, injured early this morning, looks far worse. But even this evening she seems more herself. I wonder if chickens, like so many other creatures, have a will to live (or lack thereof) that is far more relevant than the medicines prescribed or the physiology of the wounds. If our birds are affected at all by the love and devotion of others, they are experiencing our concern, our love, and our prayers – and from what I can tell, those of many others.
I appreciate the caring words and the kindhearted thoughts more than I can fully express. I feel so blessed I have so many friends – those close, those not-so-close, some who barely know me – who take the time to read, or respond, or just send compassion my way. I have experienced this kind of care in so many of the losses and difficult times in my life and it is as appreciated as anything else I’ve ever received.
* Yes, I know which dogs, and yes, I have initiated contact with both the neighbors and local Animal Control. Unhelpful comments include what actions I should or shouldn’t take regarding these dogs, and what kinds of people allow dogs to roam, etc. etc.