Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pretty Boy's Check-Up

Hi Folks!

Well, as I told you in Part Six, Dr. Susan said Pretty Boy could go back to the pond, but she left his stitches in place. I was to bring him back in a week to have them removed. To be honest, I wasn't confident about my chances of grabbing him up so soon after his incarceration in my tub. I felt sure that Pretty Boy would avoid me for a while, just to be on the safe side. You can imagine my surprise, then, when he walked right into the middle of the pile of corn today as usual. I saw my opportunity and scooped him up. He seemed more annoyed than anything else: "Jeez, Kelly, I didn't even get any corn!"

I know you remember me complaining about how far the drive to Dr. Susan's office is. I almost didn't take take Pretty Boy today; the doctor did say those stitches would dissolve on their own. But I wanted to be sure about things. Did his eyelid heal up completely? Was he back to normal? Since there was only one way to answer those questions, I resigned myself to a long drive with a cranky duck.

I believe it was Temple Grandin - author of "Animals in Translation," who said that animals appear to communicate through music much more than we realize, and apparently, she's not just talking about birds. She writes about how research has found that dogs use different harmonic pitches for different barks, depending on what they're barking about. Grandin goes on to say that humpback whale songs often have repeating refrains, while some whale songs actually rhyme. "Translation" is a fascinating book about how animals communicate, and I highly reccomend it.

The reason I brought up a book about animals and music is because while I was driving Pretty Boy to his appointment, I spent some time trying to keep him amused. For old time's sake, I even stuck my fingers inside the carrier and let him bite them. Boy, did he! My small talk didn't seem to do much for Pretty Boy, so I started surfing the radio stations. When the Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want" came on, I began to sing along.

Pretty Boy had spent so much time flopping around in that smooth plastic carrier that it finally occurred to me to do something about it. I bought a rubber bath mat of the sort that you put in the tub to keep from slipping, and cut it down to fit the inside of that carrier. It worked like a charm, though I never understood why Pretty Boy always insisted on standing up when he could lie down on his tum; it certainly would've been easier.

Evidently, the Rolling Stones put him in the mood for easier. Pretty Boy settled down on his tummy in the carrier, tilting his head up occasionally to get a better look at the woman who was botching the lyrics. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is one of my all-time favorite songs, and from the sudden change in my favorite duck, I was forced to conclude that he, too, was now a Stones fan. Pretty Boy lying quietly in the carrier was a marked contrast to his usual wing-flapping and bar-biting. Maybe this Temple Grandin was on to something.

Dr. Susan seemed pleased with Pretty Boy's eyelid, but there was still a problem nonetheless: along with his eyelid, Pretty Boy's tear duct had been injured, too, and the doctor had no way of knowing whether it would heal or not. In its' present condition, the duct manufactured tears, but the ability to drain those tears from the eye did not exist. Basically, Pretty Boy will have a watery eye, which is a small problem, and one he'll be able to live with. Dr. Susan said it was possible that the duct would heal more as time went on. Even if it doesn't, he'll be fine out at the pond.

Relieved to know that Pretty Boy's eye had healed enough to pass muster with the exacting Dr. Susan, I tucked him back in the carrier and headed to the car. I always put him in the front seat, with the cage door facing me so that he sees something familiar during the ride. Continuing my experiment on the drive home, I played my "The Best of George Harrison" CD. And then things got interesting.

I whistled along with the lead guitar on "My Sweet Lord." Almost immediately, Pretty Boy settled down on his stomach, tilting his head up to see where the whistley sound was coming from. Singing along to the song kept him equally quiet and observant. But the minute I changed over to "Here Comes The Sun," Pretty Boy stood up and went back to his usual bar-biting hobby. "How can you not like that song, Pretty Boy," I asked quizzically, "it's a classic!" He only settled down again when I switched back to "My Sweet Lord."

So we listened to "My Sweet Lord" over and over again for the duration of the twenty-five minute ride back to the pond. I didn't mind - I like that song! And, evidently, so does Pretty Boy. I'm not willing to draw any lasting conclusions about animals and music, based on nothing more than one annoyed duck and a George Harrison CD, but I have to admit, I'm glad he's got such good taste in music! Maybe next time I'll try some Eric Clapton on him.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Susan and all the staff at the Exotic Critter Clinic. They took such good care of Pretty Boy, and, because he's not a domestic pet, they willingly lowered their fees to boot. It's always nice when I come across people who, like me, want to do the right thing for the critters around them. Even if that critter is an ornery, finger-biting, cage-pooping, George Harrison-listening duck.

That's all for now, folks! Thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to seeing you again soon. In the meantime, please be kind to all the critters!

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