Saturday, March 22, 2008

That Troublemaking Duck!

Hi Folks!

Thanks for stopping by again.

Well, I should've known that the next duck problem would involve the same duck who's been at the center of every other problem! Pretty Boy is just prone to bad luck, I guess. I'd been noticing that his eye looked funny, at the last few feeds. His third eyelid was partially covering his eye - the same eye we'd had all that trouble with last November. I couldn't imagine what the problem was, and to be honest with you, I spent a day or two procrastinating before I made an appointment with Dr. Chrys.

It's not that I don't worry about the ducks - you know I do. It's just that taking them to the vet's office is a hassle of epic proportions. First there's the grab 'n go, wherein I scoop up the duck in question, try to wrap my arms around his wings before he can leverage them in an escape attempt, then chuck him into the waiting critter carrier. That's probably the easiest part of the exercise.

On the drive to the animal hospital, Pretty Boy is guaranteed to poop several times in the carrier. In the middle of winter, with all the windows up, it's not the nicest smell I can think of. But Pretty Boy's not a big fan of these forced vet visits, so a puddle or two to underscore his feelings is understandable. He'll go on to leave several souveniers in the exam room, as well.

Because these visits tend to be last-minute, the kind staff at the hospital squeeze us in between several other clients. So once they put us in an exam room, we tend to be there for a good twenty to thirty minutes before Dr. Chrys comes in. I'll let Pretty Boy out of the carrier, and he'll spend some time investigating the room. He always has an uncanny knack for locating the door, but when I opened it, on this latest trip, and offered to let him wander down the hall, he declined. He chose instead to hunker down under the exam table, facing the wall.

He does that out at the pond, too. I have a picture I took of him a year or so ago, during a summer feed. I was sitting on the ground, surrounded by ducks, and when I looked around to take stock of things, I found Pretty Boy about eight feet away, hunkered down on his tummy, with his back to the crowd. It was the funniest thing, like he'd had enough of the all the ducks and just turned his back on us. When I called to him, he refused to look around. That's Pretty Boy: a little wierd but definitely his own duck!

In any case, Dr. Chrys finally came in to have a look at her favorite duck. Some things had changed since she'd seen him last: most notably, his attitude had taken a turn for the worst. During his time in my bathtub, I gave Pretty Boy free reign to express every feeling he had that week - and judging from his comments, all those feelings were distinctly negative! But I understood. After all, I wouldn't want to be held hostage in some strange, stinky place, comepletely alone and worried about my Girlfriend Duck and all the others. So I let him have his say and I didn't try to sweet talk him out of being crabby.

Now, though, he was using his extensive vocabulary of honks and growls on Dr. Chrys! She didn't take it personally - she understood that he wasn't happy about having been rudely yanked away from his pile of corn at the pond. I told her my observations about his third eyelid, and upon close examination, Dr. Chrys agreed that there did seem to be an infection in his eyelid. She said that Dr. Susan's surgery on the torn eyelid had clearly been a success, but that Pretty Boy might now be prone to difficulties related to the original trauma. Rats!

Dr. Chrys administered some eyedrops to get the duck started, then handed me the usual Baytril regimen - half a pill crushed up in some bread chunks once a day, and, if the antibiotic didn't do the trick, she gave me a bottle of eyedrops as well, just in case. Oh, crap! Not another duck in my tub!!! Determined to avoid that at all costs - if for no other reason than that mating season is upon us, and how would his two girlfriends hold up for a week without him? - I found myself having to re-learn how to be smarter than my favorite duck, in order to get those pills down his gullet.

I know what you're thinking: jeez, Kelly, if you're not smarter than the average duck, then you really have problems!!! You'd think that, but I'm here to tell you, sometimes humans are so busy trying to think outside the box, they don't bother to think like the critter they're dealing with. So let's break it down here: I'd just dragged Pretty Boy off to the vet, who man-handled him and put drops in his eye. Once I released him at the pond, he wasn't inclined to get close to me for a while. Which meant that he wouldn't take the proffered bread chunks out of my hand like he ordinarily would. Now what do you do? He's gotta have his crushed up pill every day, so now what do you do?

Believe it or not, it took me a couple hours of anxious examination of the problem before I came up with the solution. Pretty Boy wasn't going to take the bread chunks out of my hand no matter what. That left the one thing I knew he would do: eat them in the water. I could toss the chunks to him one at a time, and the greedy little stinker would eat them right up. Which is exactly what he did. Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the hardest ones to find, don't you think?

In any case, we're still in the middle of the Baytril regimen, so it's early days yet, but I'm cautiously optimistic that his eye is clearing up and the swelling is going down. In the event that I'm wrong, I'm absolutely prepared to bring him home and do the whole bathtub-and-eyedrops routine again - although this time, I think I'd bring along Girlfriend Duck to keep him company. I'd hate for her to worry about where he'd gotten to.

That's all for now, folks. I'll keep you posted on that silly duck's latest medical issue. Here's hoping he heals up just fine without another visit to my bathroom! Until next time, please be kind to all the critters.

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