I wrote a few weeks ago about our Benny, youngest member of the Cockatiel Horde, son of Stella and Winston LaFollett. Accidents Happen And I promised to write about the happy ending. But before you have an ending, you have to have a story. A story of After Care.
Benny required a number of weekly visits during the healing process. His initial visit, post injury, required a toe amputation, and surgical gluing of the foot pad. The big concern at that time was; would his foot heal below the ankle. Doctor Zellner ball-bandaged Benny's foot and we went home. To follow up in 4 days for checkup and wound care.
Alas, this flock of 4 were so very tight I had to move all four, their flight aviary and Benny's travel cage (now his hospital room) into my art studio. Louie was in full panic mode when we arrived home from the Vet's that first visit. I situated Benny's safty-perched side of his cage to the aviary cage side with a perch for Louie to sit directly next to Benny. They immediately took positions. Gazing through cage bars like little prisoners of love.
It was going to be a few weeks of no flying for anyone. Calm and serene would be the flavor of this month. Benny had to stay relaxed and confident for maximum healing. I need him relaxed for meds and observation. It was my job to keep an eye on his toes, his gate and his eating and drinking. The location and setup with his bonded love, Louie right beside him guarenteed that outcome. Poor Stella and Winston were grounded, too. They had to stay close to sustain the macro-flock status.
It was simple enough to maintain clean water and food for all. Dosing meds to Benny was surprisingly easy. He took them like a champ. As long as his position in my arms was within sight of his beloved Louie. I checked his toe for good color, I checked his food bowl for good eating and checked his water for good drinking. And we all waited. Over the next 3 weeks Benny and I would leave to see his Doctor every four days or so. As I locked the front door behind us I could hear Louie passionately flockcalling for Benny. As I drove off in the truck, I could hear Louie. Louie was not pleased. Each visit with Doctor showed marked improvement. On After Care visit 2, Doctor Zellner was convinced all would be well. Two more After Care visits remained.
By the last vist I couldn't hear Louie flockcalling from the truck as Benny and I drive off. Which was good and bad. That meant the flock now saw this as the new normal. Which is good and bad. Stella, Winston and Louie were showing signs of depression from lack of freedom and flight. Thankfully this visit was the end of Veterinarian After Care. It was a Friday. Benny and I returned home and upstairs to the studio. I placed his Hospital cage next to the Aviary with a loud greeting Flockcall from Louie as a reward. Benny was no longer bandaged. I was told we could resume the normal of before. Here's where I made an extra-credit-mom-decision.
I decided to wait 48 hours before returning Benny to the Aviary. He'd never stood on an unbandaged 3-toe foot before. I felt it important that he come to terms with that to a familiar level. And so we waited for Sunday morning to quietly and gently return him into the Aviary. Louie was so excited. Benny was so excited. A step closer to the old normal!
I watched Benny and Louie negotiate their perching positions. Benny was a bit wobbly. I decided to wait one more week before returning them to the birdroom and allowing them to fly again. I decided that a full week inside the flock resuming aviary routines and relearning how to hop, walk, climb and socialize on his new foot was imperative.
One more week was easy for me to say. Not so much for them. I think they knew the wait was almost over. All four were quite antsy all week. The following Saturday my husband and I carried the aviary downstairs and resituated it in front of The Horde's window. I fed them an extra special breakfast. They were over it.
Four healthy cockatiels clung to the front of that aviary knowing it was over and wondering why I didn't know it was over. Open the door! Open the door! Their volume was deafening. We secured everyone else in their cages so The Horde could fly free and privately. Kirby remained out, because he is a friend to The Horde. In fact, during their stay upstairs in the studio, Kirby would fly upstairs regularly to take naps with them. And so Kirby stood atop the aviary looking down at his friends and up at me. Open the door!
We opened the door. Like doves released for the Pope on Good Friday the wing flaps, chirps and wooshes seemed to be everywhere! A few Nascar type passes around the perimeter of the room and everyone lighted on their favorite spots. They flew all day until Stella led everyone back into the aviary for dinner.