by J + K
We brought home four little chicks this spring, and within hours we realized that Wendy wanted to sleep more than the others and was lethargic.
We made an electrolyte mix and syringed it to her every couple of hours for the first day and woke up in the night to do it too. Every time we woke up in the night we braced ourselves to find that she had passed, but she kept hanging on. Within a couple days she was as bright and energetic as the rest of the flock and we always marvelled at what a survivor she was.
Fast forward another 8 weeks and that brings us to today. We spent the evening finishing the chicken coop build. They have been living in our spare room because it’s been unseasonably cold and the threat of avian flu made it easier to keep them in a bit longer. Tomorrow would have been their first day in their beautiful new coop and run.
We’d been gradually expanding the temporary roost in the makeshift room as they got bigger and bigger. This evening shortly after we came in we heard a loud crash. We rushed in to the chicken room to find that the heavy wooden block we had been using to support one end of the roost had tipped over.
At first it looked like everyone was fine but on closer inspection we realized Wendy was injured. We immediately rushed out the door to the emergency vet hospital. Her breathing was shallow, raspy, and slow on the car ride over and I could tell she had a serious head injury and was in pain.
The emergency vet confirmed our fears and told us even with aggressive care her prognosis wasn’t good. The rest of her body was fine but she had a significant head injury.
We knew that the kindest thing we could do for her was release her from her pain so we asked the vet to let her go.
I feel so guilty that she suffered and experienced pain, and that her short life ended without experiencing the joy of being outside and feeling the warm sun, catching bugs, smelling rain.
The wooden block we were using was so big and heavy I am shocked it tipped. I can barely even lift it on my own… it’s been fine all this time but I guess they are getting bigger and testing the limits of their wings. They often take big flying leaps across the room, that’s the only explanation we can think of for the block being able to tip. How could a small little chicken knock something so massive over?
I am relieved that the vet was able to end her suffering quickly. The vet said that her mental status was altered and so my hope is that she was in shock or otherwise unaware or unable to register the pain.
I feel that we let her down. She depended on us to make good decisions to keep her and her flock safe and we failed.
Our little survivor was taken from us too soon because of a stupid choice we made to use that block. I’m not sure how to go forward now with the sadness and guilt I feel for harming this innocent beautiful creature.