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For Popeye by Bruce and Gretchen Zaeske

When I bought Popeye, a beautiful five-year-old Blue Fronted Amazon, I didn't do it because I like birds. In fact, I had never even been close to a bird at all. I bought him because I fell in love with him. It was just that simple. Being cautious (lots of money involved), I started slowly. I visited the pet store 3 or 4 times per week. Pretty soon I was the only one Popeye would allow to pick him up. We bought and read everything we could find on parrots and Blue Fronts in particular. We soon found out we were taking on a huge commitment. But it didn't matter, we were meant for each other. So about three months after our initial contact, we brought him home.

I would like to tell you that we lived happily ever after, but that is not exactly true. Our first few weeks were pretty bloody (mine), as I was expecting too much to soon. I wanted to hold and cuddle him all the time. But we persevered and developed a very close and loving bond, based on mutual trust and respect. We had a little over two wonderful years together. Now my heart is broken, my Popeye is gone. Coming home from work on a Tuesday evening in December, we noticed that he just wasn't himself. He was very quiet and not at all playful. After observing him for about thirty minutes we called his vet. While waiting for her to call back, and watching some more, we called again and said we were on our way to the clinic.

She looked at Popeye, took some blood and sent us home with some antibiotics that we were to mix with his water. She said if he wasn't better by Friday, to give her a call. For the next 36 hours, we watched and gave him water and medicine every two hours by dribbling it into his mouth by syringe. On Thursday morning I went to work and Bruce called me at about 10:00 am. He was very concerned and said that Popeye looked worse than ever. He got a hold of a qualified avian veterinarian, and made an appointment for that morning. When we arrived the doctor took one look at Popeye and whisked him off to an incubator. He went over the results of the blood tests with us, something the first vet hadn't done, and told us his liver was all but nonfunctional and prognosis was poor at best. We left him there, under extensive supportive care, including IV antibiotics and fluids.

The last thing Popeye did as I said good-bye was laid his beak against the incubator where I pressed my fingers against the other side. By morning, my baby was gone.

Our point to all of this is that it didn't have to happen. Even though we took Popeye to the vet every six months for clipping and a checkup, it wasn't enough because the vet didn't have the experience or knowledge to know what to look for. Please don't let this happen to you. Take your bird to a qualified avian vet. Terry and Shari would be more than happy to help you find one. If they want to take blood and do some testing, LET THEM. This cannot be stressed enough!!! We now feel that with the combined help and knowledge of Parrot Island and qualified avian veterinarians, we will soon be ready to try again. Hopefully soon, a baby blue Front will be born for us to love. Please don't wait. Get your avian friend to the vet now. My Popeye is gone. Was it our fault? I think not. We didn't know any better. But if you have read this, NOW YOU DO.

Editor's Note: We wish to thank Bruce and Gretchen for an article I am sure was difficult for them to write, and yes we do have a list of avian veterinarians that we feel are very qualified to see your birds.

This article was published on Tuesday 22 June, 2004.
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