Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goodnight, Sweet Prince.

Zoe (Left) and Cosmo (Right)

15 years ago, my husband and I came across a small Mom & Pop pet store that was going out of business. We'd just moved to Southern California, had our first apartment together, and erhm, in fact, weren't actually married yet. The wedding was a year away.

M had worked at a fish store while a high school student in Florida, so one of the first things we did in California was set up a fish tank. One night, we noticed a big "Store Closing, 50% Off" banner posted in the window of the pet store, and we thought we'd go in and see what kind of fish we might add to our tank.

I think we spent a grand total of 47 seconds in the store before we both spied a bonded pair of Green Cheeked Conures sitting forlornly in a cage, looking as if the world was ending. We asked the owners what would happen to the birds when the store closed, and they admitted that they would probably be split up, if they couldn't find a home for them as a pair.


We just couldn't let THAT happen.

Suffice to say that we forked over the half-price cost for the birds, a cage and necessary birdie accoutrements on the spot. Two for one. No brainer. They could stay together.

Of course, at the time, we had NO idea how much fun they would be, what a complete pain in the a$$ it would be to take care of them, and we had not a clue as to how old they were, what sex they might be (mother and son? Brother and sister? Clueless). This particular type of bird is has no differing sexual characteristics, so the only way to tell was to have them sexed by DNA.

We never did that.

In time, we decided that one of them was a girl (possibly the mother?). Zoë has a penchant for nagging and bosses the other one around like crazy. Boss Bird. The other bird eventually claimed the name "Cosmo J. Bird", although the long-standing joke is that "no one knows what the 'J' stands for". Not even Cosmo.

Cosmo immediately claimed all sets of keys as his own, hoarding them in his cage, climbed up to the top of the dish drainer in the sink to get to my stack of to-be-recycled Coke cans, grabbed the pop-tops in his beak and tossed them all over the kitchen like the Sumo Wrestler he is.

Er, rather, was.

Cosmo J. Bird died this morning.

And I can't believe how absolutely sad I am.

The night before last, I heard a "thunk" from the birdcage after I'd gone to bed. It was then that I realized that I'd meant to give them fresh water before I went to bed, and hadn't. So, I got up to check on the birds, and give them water, and I see my Moey on the bottom of the cage, one foot curled up and having problems standing. He'd obviously fallen from his perch.

I immediately opened the cage and got him out, holding him against my neck as he liked, while he slowly gathered strength back to his foot. By the time I put him back in his cage, just a few minutes later, he was grabbing onto my fingers with both feet, no problem. I decided that maybe his foot had just fallen asleep, and went back to bed.


The next morning, he was not exactly right, but not exactly awful, either. By bedtime, though, he was wearing down and I realized that if he couldn't stand or climb, he couldn't get to the food or water dishes, so I hand fed him some banana and syringed some water into his beak. I went to bed last night dreading what I might find in the morning, and hoping that if it was his time, that he could just go quietly and peacefully.

This morning, I found him still on his perch, but very much worse. He couldn't seem to move his left leg, and his right leg was also failing to a degree. I picked him up, allowing him to bite my finger so he could get into my hand, since he couldn't lift his feet very well, OW, and we spent about and hour this morning in the recliner with Moey snuggled against my neck. Seemed the only thing he could do, or the only place he wanted to be.

I put him down a few times, to get coffee, to get dressed, in a box he couldn't climb out of, lined with an old soft fleece blanket of my son's. When I put him down , he would just... Flail. Wings stretched out, couldn't stand, couldn't fly, couldn't walk... Just... Flail.

It was Heartbreaking.

M took the kids to school, and by the time he got back, it was clear that we needed the sort of advice only a vet can give.

I knew he was dying... Knew I couldn't do anything for him... And I couldn't stand to see him like that, but also couldn't bring myself to smother him or whatever else I might do to end his suffering.

So we went to the vet.


At least I got to hold him as he went to sleep, and then as he went to the great birdie beyond. I whispered to him. We told him he was a good bird. We told him we loved him. We told him there would be a sky full of hemp seeds to eat and coke cans to toss to his heart's content. Keys to be hoarded. We asked one more time what the 'J' stood for. We will never know.

And then M and I cried our eyes out.

Over a little bird.

Over a two-for-the-price-of-one Green Cheeked Conure.

Over the first living thing we'd ever had together. Not a child, exactly, but 15 years of laughter and bird antics, of and biting and terrorizing our visitors.

15 years of love and friendship.

15 years.

While M dug a hole for him in the bird and butterfly garden, I crocheted a lil blue birdie blanket for him as fast as my hands could go. It was the least I could do for my soft, sweet boy.

After the burial, I held Miss Zoë, wondering what life would be like for her without him. I remembered seeing little stuffed birds for single birds to snuggle against in the bird stores, so I spent the afternoon patterning a little bird, cutting it out of the same blanket that we brought Cosmo home in, and sewing and stuffing a little "friend" for Zoë to cuddle with. I have no clue of she'll ever accept it (she's always been slow to adapt new toys and things), but if she ever needs it, it will be there.

But my Moey... Moey is gone. And I'm so sad.

The hell of it is.... I've one 13 year old dog diagnosed with lymphoma, one 9 year old dog suffering from arthritis or hip dysplasia so badly that he struggles just to stand, and Miss Zoë herself, has had her little birdie skull stitched back together by a talented bird surgeon after she was accidentally stepped upon by yours truly 11 years ago.

Who would have thought that it would be my sweet Moey's turn first?

Good night, Cosmo J.

Momma loves you.


  1. Sounds like your little birdies were/are very lucky to get a good home. So many times I see people who have a bird(s) in a cage and thats where they live them 24/7. No interaction with the family at all. At least you know that you and your M have been good people. Sorry it hurts so bad now that your little one has gone.

  2. I'm so sorry. How awful and sad. It's never easy to lose a pet. Know that you're in my thoughts.

  3. that's so sad, i hope the little companion left behind will cope well. my thoughts are with you all, 15 years is a long long time to bond!

    we "inherited" budgies from friends when i was a kid, the female bird was kind of a bitch the boy a soft and kind soul. he passed away before her and i don't really know what we thought at that time, he was a beaufiful blue budgie, we had him stuffed. it has disgust me for years now, that stupid decision, he's still at my mum's and we don't know what else to do with him than let him stand on top of the bookshelf. sigh.

    kind of sidenote. back to moey, sounds like he's had a great life and how fortunate it was, for all of you, that you found eachother that day 15 years ago! part of loving is the pain in losing that loved one, it hurts so bad, but i hope (and know) it will feel a bit better gradually and to have those great memories is a blessing. *hugs*

  4. Oh, thank you ALL for such nice words... We're doing ok, and Miss Zoë seems to be just fine. She's getting a little extra attention, of course. :)


I LOVE and encourage commenting, and I read them all! If you have problems using this comment form, feel free to email me directly at curiouspebble[@]cox.net. Due to issues with spam, please make sure you input WORD VERIFICATION, or your comment will not post. Thank you!