Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Duck In My Tub

Hi Folks!

Well, as promised, I'm going to bring you up to speed on Pretty Boy Duck's latest run-in with calamity. It started just over a week ago. Squatting down in my usual posture while feeding the ducks, I noticed some horrific, unidentifiable problem with Pretty Boy's left eye. It looked to me like his whole eye was just gone altogether, so I seized the opportunity and grabbed the duck. I managed to get him into the critter carrier I always have handy, but I'll tell you - when those big domestics flap their wings, it pushes some air around!

Because Pretty Boy tends to schedule his emergencies for the days when our primary vet is off work, I had to drive him forty minutes across town to the Exotic Critter Clinic. He doesn't seem to mind riding in the car all that much, but animals tend to poop when they're stressed, and ducks poop a lot anyway, so by the time we got where we were going, my car was pretty stinky!

Dr. Susan hmmmm'd and uh-oh'd while she looked Pretty Boy over. His eye was still there, thank God, but his lower lid had been torn pretty badly. Dr. Susan said she wanted to keep him overnight to work on reducing the swelling, and then try to stitch him up the next day. Knowing that Pretty Boy was in good hands with this avian specialist, I didn't worry too much about the outcome. I agreed with Dr. Susan's assessment, and I liked the sound of her plan.

When I picked him up late the next day, his eye looked 100% better: the swelling had gone down, and the stitches had put everything back together nicely. Dr. Susan ordered ten days of eye drops twice a day, and said he was ready to go back to the pond. She actually preferred that he spend the winter in a nice cozy barn, but since I don't have one of those, I was pretty emphatic about him going home where he belonged.

I had every confidence in my ability to grab him up at least once a day and get the drops in him - mostly because I forgot about the mob mentality among the ducks. If one of them has an issue, then suddenly everyone does. And on Day Three of Operation Eyedrops, the whole gang decided that they'd had enough of this grabbing business.

They didn't like the idea of one of their fellows being manhandled, dragged off against his will, and undoubtedly beaten and tortured for days or weeks - even if he was really only gone the couple of minutes it took me to put him in the carrier and administer the drops. No, those jumbo-sized Pekins were convinced that there was evil afoot and its name was "Kelly."

So they stopped coming near me at the feeds. Each and every one of those stinkers stayed at least eight feet away from me. To add insult to injury, they quacked at me the whole time, too. "Go away now, Kelly!" they said firmly, over and over again in a deafening duck chorus, "won't let you touch us!" Jeez! Now what?!

I was pretty p.o.'d at myself for being so over-zealous as to try to give Pretty Boy the eye drops twice a day. Even Dr. Susan had said, "Twice a day is best, but once a day is better than nothing." I should've known better than to disrupt the normal once-a-day feeding routine. I should've just attempted the drops once a day and left it at that. I should've, but I didn't. Fortunately, the ducks have short memories and don't hold grudges against evil Kellys, so on Day Six, I was able to get near the gang again. Pretty Boy's eye looked great, and I was thrilled to be back in the ducks' good graces. That thrill would be very short-lived.

On Day Seven, Pretty Boy's stitches - along with the flap of skin they were suppposed to be holding in place - were flapping in the breeze. Oh God! What happened? With the benefit of hindsight, I think it was nothing more complicated than Pretty Boy scratched his itchy eye, and the sharp little hooks on the underside of his foot accidentally yanked the stitches out. However it happened, it happened - yet again - on our vet's day off and we had to drive all the way across town again to see Dr. Susan.

It wasn't as bad as it looked, and in fact, Dr. Susan was able to trim off the flap of skin underneath Pretty Boy's eye and restitch the remainder. She was pretty firm about him getting all his drops this time around, though, and suggested I put him up in my garage. Great idea - but I don't have one! Dr. Susan's staff had done a bit more homework than I cared for, and knew a woman who'd be willing to keep Pretty Boy in her barn for the winter.

Call me selfish, but I had no idea who the barn woman was, or whether I'd ever see my favorite duck again if I handed him over to her. And besides, apart from the eye injury (and, admittedly, a fish hook injury last summer) Pretty Boy has a good thing going at McKinnon's Pond. He has siblings there, and numerous friends. Heck, he even has a girlfriend! They've all got a huge pond (more like a small lake) to swim in, and one of the Big Cheeses in the Streets Department (many thanks to Jon Eckel!)is such a fan that he's willing to keep the fountain going in the pond all winter long, just so those ducks have open water to swim in. How could a barn possibly compare with that?

Even so, there was no getting around the serious fact that Pretty Boy stood to lose his eye if those stitches didn't do their job. And to do their job, he needed drops in his eye twice a day, every day, for at least a week. And if he lost his eye, he'd never be going back to the pond again because he'd be way too vulnerable. At Dr. Susan's prodding, I put my mental gears to work and they came up with the only acceptable (to me, anyway) solution: take him home and put him in my bathtub for a week. And that's just what I did.

Folks, I've been fighting a migraine all day and it's winning, so I need to stop there. Trust me, there's plenty more to the story, and I'll write the next installment as soon as I'm able. Until then, please be kind to all the critters!

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