My love for Charlie
by Laurel Castenholz
(Las Vegas, NV)
The day we let Charlie play outside after his 6 days in the bathtub
My boyfriend and I met Charlie when we first moved to Las Vegas about 3 and a half years ago. Our nextdoor-neighbor-landlords kept Charlie as their pet, and Charlie would welcome us to the neighborhood by hanging out around our front door. He liked saying good morning to us, and we quickly grew to love our neighbor Charlie.
Around June of this last year, our landlords could no longer care for Charlie, so we decided to adopt him. We had just moved, and we had just added 3 Pygmy goats to our family. Charlie got along with the goats, and they all seemed happy with their new living situation.
Everything was pretty great until a few weeks ago. Charlie stopped eating and drinking water, he could barely open his swollen eyes, his comb was droopy, and he didn’t move around much. He also stopped crowing entirely. A trip to the vet diagnosed him with Infectious Coryza virus (in addition to bumblefoot, although I don’t think that was related to the symptoms).
We kept Charlie in our bathtub after that to try and bring him back to good health in a controlled environment. After some antibiotic injections and some forced feedings, he perked right back up! He started eating and drinking on his own again, he hopped around quite a bit, and he even started crowing again. His comb started perking up too, although not entirely.
After 6 days in the bathtub, we thought it was time to let him back outside, where he could enjoy the fresh air and sunlight. Two days passed without any problems.
On the third day, I noticed that his wattle was starting to turn pale. On the fourth day, it started looking even paler, and his comb was getting droopier. His comb also started to look very flaky, like there were dry white spots all over it. On the fifth day (yesterday), I noticed that he stopped eating and moving around.
I brought him back in for a forced feeding in the morning, but seeing as there was no improvement, I decided to bring him into the house for observation later that night. It was about 10pm when I wrapped him in a towel and gave him his dinner. He didn’t fight me at all when I put the plastic syringe in his mouth. I should have taken that as a sign.
He sat with me for about an hour and a half, just watching tv loosely wrapped in his towel. His feathers were very puffed up, and he started making sounds like he was snoring. In hindsight I think he was having trouble breathing. But I had no idea.
As I continued to pet him, I did really start to worry about how unhealthy he looked just based on the comb and wattle. At 11:30pm, Charlie panicked and tried to fly out of my arms. I grabbed him and set him gently on the ground, but he no longer had the ability to use his legs. He just crumpled while he flailed on the ground. I grabbed him and held him as I watched the life leave his little body.
I had no idea that he was having a heart attack at that moment, and I just sobbed in such grief and desperation to find a way to revive him. But there was nothing I could do. I don’t know why this happened to Charlie. And I don’t know if there was anything I could have done to prevent this. I don’t know if maybe he wasn’t fully over the Coryza virus when we put him back outside. Or maybe he was battling something else in addition to the virus.
I also don’t actually know how old Charlie was, and maybe the virus mixed with his age put too much stress on his little heart. I’m so full of questions and grief right now!
Charlie was the sweetest, friendliest rooster, and I miss him terribly already! I did everything I could to save him, but it just wasn’t enough.