Olly Astro, our rescued australorp hen, came to us in 2010 after being surrendered to our veterinarian in Seattle. She had pneumonia that wasn’t getting better, and her owners were tired of trying. So the vet kept her and treated her for 8 weeks to clear up her infection. Once she was finally feeling better, she came home with us.
When we went to pick Olly up, we found out she made a friend while she was in the vet hospital. Chickens are well known for their good networking skills. So Olly Astro came home along with her friend Janet.
Our only hen at the time was Olivia, who just passed away this past December. Olivia was none too keen on having new lady hens around, and she spent her every waking moment making sure they knew she did not approve of their antics. It was good for her to have a new distraction and hobby, even if her hobby was taunting Olly and Janet.
In time, all three hens became good friends, and Olly actually took top spot in the flock for a while. She got along well with most everyone. While she liked people and their treats, she was never much for being held or petted.
Her favorite thing to do was hunt for bugs while keeping a perfect triangle shape as she dug in the dirt. She was a great, great triangle.
Every chicken has their own sound, and Olly’s sound was “hoppah.” Janet made a “gu gu gu gaaaaah” sound which reminded me of the song “I gotta be meeeee!” And Si Si made a sing-song sound like “Gaboooo” which reminded me of “helloooo.” Olly’s “hoppah” was very matter of fact, kind of quiet and a little serious. There was no sing song to her talk. She was all business.
Olly had a sweet, kind and laid back personality. A little bit quiet but she did make sure she got her share of treats. Over the years she had her share of health problems. In addition to recurring respiratory infections and breathing issues, she got the last egg of the season stuck inside her once, and laid 21 internal yolks the following spring.
She had partial spay surgery in hopes to reduce her reproductive issues, as well as having all the yolks removed. She continued to have issues each spring, but never as bad thankfully.
Our records show she was likely born in July of 2009. That made her 5 years and 7-8 months old. For an egg-laying hen, that’s pretty average or even on the old side a bit. I wish she could have lived to be as old as our bantam Olivia lived, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Last week I noticed she was straining a bit to poop, so I took a good look at her. Her belly felt okay, so I gave her some extra water and watery treats. She continued to have trouble, so we got her into the vet’s office. Unfortunately, her abdomen was so full of reproductive tumors that they were pushing her other systems out of the way, making it difficult to expel waste.
Sometimes with old hens, the vet will let me bring them home and let them pass naturally. But in this case, the vet was very clear to say she recommended euthanasia because waste backup would be very uncomfortable for Olly. We agreed and asked to be with Olly when she was euthanized.
I brought some fresh corn treats for Olly and sat with her in the lobby of the vet clinic while they prepared for her. She was in good spirits and loved her corn treats. She perched on my crossed leg and let me tell her what a wonderful, sweet hen she was… my little hoppah.
Then it was time to give her a sedative and let her go to sleep. She needed two sedatives, but she let me hold her in my arms until she was fast asleep and limp. At that time the vet administered the euthanasia drugs and Olly flapped her wings and was gone.
Olly Astro, in spite of her recurring health troubles, was never any trouble. She was always a sweet, wonderful and beautiful hen. A good kid who enjoyed life and loved to hunt for bugs. She made many friends in her life, and I know they will all miss her.
Rest in peace, my little hoppah triangle. I love you.
Some time around February 6th, an unknown monster began illegally shooting rescued ducks, geese, coots and other shore birds at the community pond where we placed the rescued Sugarhouse Park ducks. The pond was also home to domestic geese relocated from Wheeler Farm as well as a whole group of rescued pekins and more. Residents who feed and care for the rescued flock were devastated to find their beloved rescues dead and injured. Both Orem Police and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are working to find the criminal(s) responsible for this senseless, disgusting tragedy.
As we learned of the tragedy, we went down to the pond to see how we could help. Birds that weren’t killed instantly by airgun pellets have now started to succumb to their injuries. We were able to catch a pekin named Sherman, and pick up a goose named Juliet-Pumpkin. These two are very seriously ill and now in our temporary care.
Sherman duck and Juliet-Pumpkin goose have already racked up $239 in emergency veterinary bills, and tomorrow I expect it could cost another $500+ as Juliet-Pumpkin has surgery to remove SIX pellets from her face, wing, body and knee… and Sherman returns to the vet for a scope to see why he’s not eating.
If you can help support Sherman and Juliet-Pumpkin through their recoveries, we would all be very grateful. We are coordinating their care and recovery, so you can donate via PayPal through us. But please note, we are not a non-profit, so your donation is not tax deductible. Your deduction will go directly to their vet bills though, in its entirety.
You can also donate directly to their veterinarians on Tuesday, February 16th only, from 9am-1pm by calling 1-801-943-3367 and saying you’d like to donate to “Tiffany Young’s care of the duck and goose from the Orem shootings. Dr. Laurel Harris and Dr. Lindsey Woods of Wasatch Exotic Pet Care are treating Sherman duck and Juliet-Pumpkin goose at a great discount. They aren’t billing for their time, just for the cost of supplies, diagnostics and medications. This is a great help to us and we’re so thankful for their generosity.
Thank you for helping us do all we can to help these two surviving individual birds, whose lives matter to so many community members.
This spring, we’ll be handing out packets of healthy duck treats to anyone feeding bread to ducks in the local parks.
The packets will contain cracked corn along with a pamphlet with lots of fun duck info on it, including information on wild v. domestic ducks and suggestions for being good wildlife stewards in public parks.
There’s even a duck diagram and some interesting factoids about ducks.
You can help ducks by making your own packets to distribute in local parks as well. Here’s a .pdf file of the pamphlet to download:
Quacks and clucks,
Tiff and the flock
Olivia hen passed away peacefully in my arms on the morning of December 17, 2014. She was rescued in 2009 and reportedly born in 2001, which made her about 13 years and 8-9 months old. This is the story of her life.
In 2009, we took in Olivia hen, Racquel L’Oreal hen and a handicapped duck named Sunny. We were asked to take in the duck, but we agreed to take the chickens too when we saw their living situation. They were kept safe, but in a hot dark shed. Their caretaker was injured and having difficulty caring for them while recovering.
All three had multiple parasites, and Racquel L’Oreal and Olivia had respiratory infections. Racquel also had a prolapse and GI tract inflammation. They were a mess, but it was Sunny who was worst of all.
Sunny had a badly healed previous injury that left her unable to walk or move well. But her chickens loved and adored her. Here Olivia cleans her face for her.
Sunny broke my heart. In her previous home, she was in a small shed with her two chickens. But at our house, the chickens quickly learned to love the grass and loved to roam around and hunt for bugs. Because Sunny was handicapped and couldn’t walk, she would cry and cry for her chickens to come back to her. She didn’t like them to be away from her side, but they wanted to roam and play. We kept Sunny on pain medication for a while, but unfortunately we decided to euthanize her when her quality of life deteriorated. She couldn’t move well-enough to keep herself fed and watered during the day, and I’d often come home from work and find her stuck in her water dish or in the same spot she’d been in all day long. It was a very sad time.
Racquel and Olivia did well after saying goodbye to their duck friend Sunny, and they stuck close together in the yard.
They both took a liking to Chewy duck, and would hang out with him and Flapper in one side of the aviary while the muscovy ducks shared the other side.
Olivia was a beautiful little chicken with golden-laced feathers. She was a protector to her fuzzy muppet friend Racquel L’Oreal.
Back then, she was a pretty serious little hen, and very business-like. She wasn’t too affectionate for a long time, but she did learn to talk to me for treats. She was a good conversationalist.
When Olivia’s friend Racquel passed away of old age in June 2010, we soon took in two new rescued chickens to keep her company, Janet and Olly Astro.
I thought Olivia would like the company of new friends, but she spent several months threatening them through a fence before she let down her guard.
Olivia eventually learned to tolerate Janet and Olly Astro, as long as they let her be top chicken.
Olivia was over 8-years-old when she came to us, but she still laid an egg every now and then. I could always tell her eggs because they were tiny. Even this past year at age 13 she laid one single egg.
Over the years, Olivia lost her spot as top chicken as new rescued hens came along. Janet passed away, Carol hen and Cindy Buttons came on the scene. For a while the four hens did well together, as long as everyone stayed out of Carol’s way.
As Olivia aged, she let me care for her more and more. One year she ended up with leg mites since she couldn’t perch any longer (she was too old to jump up high). She let me treat her legs and feet after that, and even seemed to enjoy the special care.
Olivia was never particularly affectionate, but she did let me hold her once in a while.
I was a little concerned about how this old girl would make the transition from Seattle to Salt Lake City, but she traveled like a champ.
Olivia liked the new aviary, especially since it has so many places to stay away from Carol.
Olivia’s most recent close friend was Si, our rescued hen who passed away in October. Si and Olivia spent a lot of time together over the summer and really liked each other.
They would sleep and perch together each night.
And Olivia would take care of Si and preen her face. I think Olivia knew that Si was old and would soon pass away. She was always very gentle with her.
In Olivia’s final week, I brought her inside to keep her warm and well-fed. I knew she was slowing down but she was so lively and perky that I thought she might have more time left. On her last evening, she was vigorously eating tortilla treats with me. At 6:20am the next morning she was passing on.
While it is never easy to say goodbye, it is always easier when a rescue lives a good long healthy life and doesn’t suffer. Olivia would want her life to be celebrated, because she was a grand old dame. This New Orleans funeral march seems perfect for her, and I like to imagine her strutting along on her way to whatever is next for her.
Rest in peace, beautiful little Olivia hen. You were a joy and a pleasure to have in our lives and in our aviary. Take care and much love. XOXOX
O’Malley Peepers passed away from old age and lymphoma complications on December 10, 2014 at 9 years, 3 months and 2 days old. He was a wonderful lovable snuggly bitey dinosaur of a duck and I miss him terribly. This is the story of his life.
O’Malley was born on about September 8, 2005 and found alone at a park in Gig Harbor, WA. In his first days of life, he was taken to a wildlife rescue organization called PAWS in Lynnwood, WA where an intake volunteer placed him with all the rescued mallards. The next morning, the staff at PAWS realized he wasn’t a mallard and called me. When I arrived to get him, I reached my hand into the mallard pen and all the baby mallard ducklings ran to the other side, as far away from my hand as they could get. O’Malley ran straight to my hand and sat on it. He was a snuggler from the very first moment we met.
O’Malley came to work with me each day for nearly two months. He seemed a little fragile and I didn’t want to leave him home alone all day while he was a baby duck.
He did really well at the office and got a lot of work done. He was responsible for implementing a “Pet Fridays” policy and also responsible for the company winning an award for “Most pet-friendly workplace in the Northwest.”
When O’Malley was big enough, he joined the other ducks in the yard, though he always remained extremely lovable and snuggly.
He grew so fast and so big that he quickly became the top duck in the yard, and nobody messed with him. He also had a reputation for being a biter, so when the Malley train was coming, everyone got out of his way. Woot woot!
O’Malley liked to snuggle every single day. He would get impatient and cranky if his snuggle time was not a top priority, so I tried to make time for him whenever I could.
If I didn’t make time for him, he would chase me down and bite my ankles until I picked him up and held him. This made it pretty difficult to do chores in the yard like feed the ducks and clean the pools.
But the snuggles made all the bites worthwhile.
There really was no end to the snuggles with O’Malley. And that kept us really close to each other over his 9+ years. To have a duck who chases you down to love you each day is a great gift.
While I miss many things about my boy O’Malley, one of the things I miss the most is his physical presence. The weight of him sitting on my lap and the feel of his head in my hand.
The sound of his huffs and “bup bup bup” and our daily conversations. The smell of his feathers and the warmth of his body. His presence was even larger than his physical self.
He was a giant, sensitive, wonderful personality that I counted on every day. As someone wrote on our Facebook page, “there’s a dinosaur-shaped hole in the universe” now that he’s gone. It’s so true. There’s a hole in my heart now.
O’Malley was loved and adored by me, but also by his girl Petunia. They were a couple for most of his life, even when new girls like Ramona and Lenora came along.
And O’Malley loved Petunia just as much as she loved him. He would sing to her every day.
He was a really good singer and a happy, joyful guy.
We’ve known O’Malley was sick for quite a few months, and he had a large lymphoma tumor removed in May before we left Seattle. So Petunia and Lenora knew he was in decline. I think they knew he was in his last days and they’ve been doing okay since he’s been gone. They stick close to each other for support.
We will remember him for the giant super dinosaur he was. The lovable goof with the giant head crest. The big biter in the yard.
And for me, personally, I will remember him for every snuggle he shared with me. For every time he sat with me and let me hold his head. For every time we chatted and I scratched his chin and pet his face.
There will never be another snugglesaurus like O’Malley Peepers. Rest in peace, giant dinosaur. You were the very best duck. I love you. XOXOX
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Today we took the Sugarhouse ducks to their forever home.
Thanks to everyone who made donations, we were able to write a check to the caretakers for $500 for feed for the ducks and geese at the private pond, as well as pay back ourselves for the fencing and materials bought to rescue the ducks. We also have a reserve that we’ll save ’til spring to make sure the ducks have long-term feed and also a veterinary fund in case one gets a sore leg or whatnot.
The ducks were super happy to be at their new digs. They looked around a little bit and then promptly jumped into the pond. They splashed around quite a bit and then started exploring. Where I’m standing is the caretaker’s yard, the family that owns the entire pond and holds all rights to its use. They are the ones who feed the rescued ducks and geese placed there. These 6 Sugarhouse ducks join 18 rescued geese placed here by Ching Sanctuary and 6 other rescued domestic ducks. The private pond has an island that the ducks and geese can sleep on for protection. And unlike the Sugarhouse park pond that froze over, this private pond is fed by a natural spring that never freezes.
A note about placing ducks:
A private pond with an island for safety and twice-daily feeding is a good setup for park-savvy domestic ducks like these. It is the standard for large-scale sanctuaries and is the preferred setup of many of our rescue friends across the country, from large organizations to small one-person backyard ponds. Unlike my own flock of handicapped, old, limpy ducks and clucks who stay in an aviary, the Sugarhouse ducks are young and in good health. They are extremely skittish around people and would not enjoy a small backyard setup with tiny pools, people and kids. They don’t want to ever be held and they prefer to be away from all people. They are not pets.
In my own past decade of rescuing ducks, I have placed dozens of ducks in all sorts of setups. In the beginning, I looked for single-family homes with predator-proof night enclosures. But year after year, the ducks that did best and survived the longest were the ones who had access to a large body of water, especially if they were also placed with geese. So with three references and an in-person inspection of this private pond, I’m inclined to trust the local sanctuary who helped us find this placement, the other people who helped rescue and place the domestic geese at the pond and the caretaker/owners of the pond. It breaks my heart a little bit every time I rescue a duck and have to place it somewhere other than my own aviary. But I do my very best to find the right placement for every duck or group of ducks. For anyone who disagrees, I invite you to head to your own local park and look for dumped domestic ducks that aren’t doing well. Some can do okay after being dumped in parks. But with winter and ice, there are so many that need your help, and the more rescuers there are, the better.
A very special THANK YOU goes out to everyone who helped rescue these ducks from the ice at Sugarhouse park as well as everyone who made a donation to ensure they will have long-term food support. Also a special thanks to Ching Sanctuary and the private pond owners for offering help in placing these ducks.
Back home at the aviary, Lionel seems a little bored now that he doesn’t have the Sugarhouse ducks to haze any more. But Olivia hen, who had spent many days alone in the garage winter pen, finally came back out into the aviary after the Sugarhouse ducks were gone. (I think they were just a little too much for her in her old age.) Chester, who was the starving, stumbling Sugarhouse park duck we rescued a few weeks before the rest, will stay here with us. His walk has improved but it is not normal, and he seems content with his uncle Teddy.
That’s it for the saga of the Sugarhouse Park ducks. But we’ll post updates and photos about them whenever we can so we can keep up with them in their new space.
Quacks and clucks,
Tiff and the flock
If you remember back a few weeks, we’ve been watching the dumped domestic ducks at Sugarhouse Park to make sure they’re doing okay.
Last weekend, the pond froze over and the park drained the pond so kids wouldn’t play on it and fall through the ice. That left the domestic ducks completely unsafe. With no water to retreat to, they couldn’t avoid off-leash dogs or other predators at the pond. A sure sign they were in danger was that they were the only birds left in the park. All the Canada geese, mallard ducks, gulls and pigeons left when the pond became unsafe. But since domestic dumped ducks can’t fly, they couldn’t move on to a safer spot.
So we organized a duck rescue. We put the word out on Facebook, Twitter and Instragram, and 5-6 ladies showed up to help corral the ducks off the pond. Later, a high-school friend and her kids showed up to help too.
The dumped domestic ducks were scared though, so they retreated to the middle of the ice-covered pond. After a long, cold slog across the pond in 18″ deep grassy, icy sewage, I was able to move them onto land on the far side.
There, the other volunteers used the fencing to create barriers so the domestic ducks could finally be caught. It was quite a team effort and we’re thankful for all the last-minute, early-morning help that arrived to save these ducks.
The foster ducks are here with us for a little bit while we ensure they’re in good health. Thankfully they’re all doing great. So this coming weekend, they will head to their new forever sanctuary.
The rescued Sugarhouse Park ducks will join an established rescued domestic flock at a private pond in Orem, UT. Thanks to the generous offer by Ching Sanctuary, these ducks will get to stay together and live with a rescued flock of 18 domestic rescued geese (from Wheeler Farm) and 6 other domestic rescued ducks.
We’re told the domestic geese are very protective and help the visiting wild mallards raise their babies in the spring. The pond has had rescued domestic ducks and geese since 2005. And since it’s on a natural spring, it never freezes over.
The family pond has a 24/7 owner/caretaker who feeds the geese and ducks twice a day. It’s a beautiful place.
That’s where you come in.
We’d like to send these sweet kids off to their forever sanctuary with a trust fund. It’s not cheap to feed a rescued flock of birds, and we don’t want these Sugarhouse Ducks to be a burden to their forever home. Also, we’d like to reimburse the Ducks and Clucks fund for the cost of all the fencing, rope and other materials needed to catch and save these ducks off the icy pond. The fencing can be re-used again and again, so it’s an investment in future duck rescues.
What do you think? Do you have a few bucks to make sure these kids eat well and live happily ever after in their new home?
Could you help make sure the only thing they have to worry about is doodling in the mud and floating on the pond?
Could you would you?
We appreciate that money is tight for many people, and we appreciate ALL of our friends and followers. But if you can help us help us help the Sugarhouse Park ducks this holiday season, it would mean a lot.
Click here to donate via PayPal or credit card.
(Then click the image of Kozmo that says “For a good Koz!”)
We’ll keep the fundraiser thermometer updated over the next several days. And we’ll keep you posted on the foster duck’s big move!
UPDATE: THE GOAL HAS BEEN MET AND EXCEEDED! NO MORE DONATIONS NEEDED AT THIS TIME. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE!
Thanks and quacks and clucks,
Tiff and the flock
Our sweet girl Si passed away on the evening of October 20, 2014 after 3 months of issues with fluid in her abdomen.
The vet in July said it was either sterile peritonitis or possibly cancer, both of which are fairly common old lady chicken maladies, and not curable. So we crossed our fingers and hoped Si would live a long time in spite of her diagnosis, but it wasn’t meant to be. Here’s the story of Si.
Si came to us in November 2013 after some nice people rescued her. She had been dumped at a trail head on Mount Si, which is why she was named Si. Her name Si sounds like pie, shy, guy, oh my.
Her rescuers unfortunately didn’t realize how crafty raccoons can be, and Si and her friend were attacked while in their care. Her friend died, and Si was brought to us for treatment.
Si was adorable since the moment she arrived. We thought she was probably at least 6-years-old, because often hens are dumped when they stop laying eggs. Since she never laid an egg here with us, it’s possible she was even older than that.
Si settled in pretty quickly and became a friendly lap chicken. She was also a great conversationalist.
Si loved bananas. She liked a lot of treats but bananas were always her favorite.
Si became good friends with old lady Olivia in recent months. Olivia is about 14-years-old, so perhaps they had old lady stuff in common. They were cute friends, and took pretty good care of each other.
Si wasn’t as close to Carol, and she spent the heat of summer trying to suffocate her on her nest. Not sure why, but it kept them both entertained.
Si Si had the most beautiful feathers, especially her fluffy cheeks and beard.
Si was always ready for whatever fun was to be had, from treats to exploring and more. She had a good attitude, was a good buddy to the other hens and was always as sweet as can be.
She was also very fashion-forward and stayed up on the latest trends, like couture camo sweaters.
Si was such a joy to have around, and I was really looking forward to many more years with her. But it’s possible she was older than we knew, or just didn’t have good luck with her health.
Farewell, little sweet hen. I’m really going to miss your goofy ways around here. Thank you for bringing such joy and light to the yard with all of your antics. We love you and miss you already, Si Si.
Rest in peace.
Well, we made it to Utah. If you haven’t seen the slide show of our journey, you can check it out here…
The flock is doing really well, and we’re on track to close on our new home by the end of June.
A few people have asked about our temporary set-up, so here are a few details.
We rented 8 14′ fencing panels to make a temporary aviary. Then we covered it with a 50′x25′ aviary net, knitted with 2″ openings.
While the aviary netting is great to protect the flock from most predators, it can be chewed through over time. So we also have the entire perimeter of the aviary hot wired to prevent any climbing predators from getting on top of the aviary.
The electric fence is powered by a Hav-a-heart energizer, so it won’t kill any predators, it’ll just make them poop their pantaloons and move along.
All along the bottom perimeter of the temporary aviary we have hardware cloth. This prevents any critters from reaching through to get at the flock.
The hardware cloth extends outwards away from the aviary 18″-24″ on the ground, which prevents any predators from digging under the aviary. They don’t know to back up and try digging away to get under.
All the flock are adjusting well to the new temporary digs. I am sure they will be happy to be settled in their permanent space soon, but this temporary aviary allows us to keep them safe while we build a permanent aviary as soon as our new home closes.
A very special THANK YOU again to everyone for your support during this move. It has been epic, exhausting, stressful and… happy. It’s a big relief to see the flock doing well in spite of so much change, which they really don’t usually like. O’Malley is doing well on his steroids for his lymphoma, and Teddy Crispin will visit a vet on Monday to confirm that his chronic infection is completely cleared up. We’ll keep you posted on new developments as they happen.
Quacks and clucks,
Tiff and the flock
This boy… my sweet, sweet boy Simon. He passed away on April 15, 2014 after a battle with what was likely intestinal adenocarcinoma. Thankfully, he was comfortable and content right up until his final day. He went to the veterinarian on Friday, we heard on Saturday that he likely had cancer, and he was gone Tuesday evening. It happened all too fast, but up until then, he had 16+ long, healthy years with me and 17 1/2 years total. So while it is difficult and unexpected to say goodbye so quickly, I’m grateful for so many good days and months and years with him.
This is his story.
Simon was adopted from the ASPCA when he was estimated to be about 1 1/2 years old. His estimated birthdate was October 1996 which made him over 17-and-a-half years old when he passed away. He was my 3rd adopted cat, and my hopeful peacekeeper. First I had adopted Meelee (Miss Amelia Dingo), and a year later I decided to find her a companion cat. Unfortunately, Hodjee was feral and pretty vicious, and she used Meelee as a chew toy. So nearly another year later I adopted Simon in hopes that he’d bond with Hodjee and give Meelee a break from the mayhem.
Simon was chubby enough that he didn’t seem to mind Hodjee’s constant attacks. They were a happy pair for years and years.
Simon, Hodjee and Meelee were all adopted during our years in New York City in the mid-1990s. Hodjee and Meelee both passed on respectively at around 14-years-old, but while they were all together, these three musketeers lived in New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. I thought Simon would even be able to add a 4th city to his list when we move to Salt Lake City soon, but that wasn’t meant to be.
Simon and Meelee spent a few years together after Hodjee’s passing, and while never super in love with each other, they did learn to like each others’ companionship.
Now for more than four years, since Meelee’s passing, it’s been just Simon and me. He has always been an affectionate cat, and back when I had all 3 cats, it could honestly be a little too much sometimes. He got the nickname “Chester the Molester” because he was always very, very needy and touchy and affectionate.
But once Hodjee and Meelee had both passed on, I was all he had. I was Simon’s pride. So I made a promise to Simon then that I would always return his affection.
I changed my view of him and made time for him every time he wanted it. I held him every time he wanted me to hold him, I petted him whenever he liked…
…and I let him press his paws against me every time we sat down.
And he loved me for it, so very much.
Simon not only had an extremely expressive face, he was extremely emotional and giving of affection and love.
He just knew how to give love freely.
I know the sweetness comes across in his photos, and in person, it truly was genuine. He was just the nicest guy you could ever meet. I’ve never met a nicer character than Simon, not another cat, duck, cluck or even a human.
As Simon grew older, I didn’t realize how much I was doing to keep him comfortable and happy, though I did so happily and would do it again. He was pretty incontinent for most of his last year. And throughout his life he didn’t have good litter box habits. And yes, we tried everything, several times over.
In all his years, he’d gone through at least 4 couches, 4 stuffed side chairs, 4 rugs, a recliner, 10 comforters, countless blankets and even some pillows.
His final year was the worst though, and sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night to him peeing on me, in bed.
It’s tough to be a 17-year-old cat. Lately, he didn’t walk as much, so I had taken to carrying him to his litter box twice a day, which helped minimize accidents around the house.
A few oddities about Simon… He was an extremely picky eater. Simon never once ate a table scrap, and never begged for people food, ever. Even though he was a big guy, sometimes he would quit eating his food entirely and I’d have to go buy every kind of food I could to find what he would eat next. That happened at least 3 times in his last few years.
Simon loved to watch birdies in the yard, though he was an indoor-only cat unless I was outside with him.
He never harmed a bird or any wildlife he encountered, but he did like to look and listen and learn about everything around him.
Watching birdies sometimes required discipline and intense concentration, which would make his tongue stick out.
Simon was so affectionate and attached that he didn’t like to be left in the house while I was outside taking care of the flock.
So he learned how to tolerate the ducks and clucks, and even enjoy them a bit, as long as they didn’t get too flappy or bitey.
The birds didn’t seem to mind his presence much either. He was just another one in the flock.
A “furry indoor duck.”
While Simon loved to be loved more than anything, there were a few things he did not like.
Simon did not like loud noises. Thunder could send him under the couch for an hour. Contractors were the worst. Of all the projects we did in the last year, his least favorite was re-roofing the house. He really didn’t like roofers above him making a racket. He didn’t mind the recent projects this past week too much, but boy those roofers back in August were not his favorite thing.
Simon also couldn’t stand my singing. I mean he really wouldn’t tolerate it at all. His least favorite song in life seemed to be “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. Simon hated to hear me sing that song. Just hated it. He’d climb up onto me and bite my chin and paw at my mouth to make the awful sounds stop.
And he was never shy about letting me know how he felt.
And can we talk about how good looking he was? So big and fluffy and wonderful, inside and out.
He could be wide-eyed and silly like a kitten.
Or reserved and regal like a wise old lion.
In his last few weeks and months, he had a fragile look about him. His age was starting to show. But even in his last days, he was comfortable, purring and without pain. That was such a relief to me.
On Monday I received a work call where I learned I might need to travel next week. I was concerned about being away from Simon, and trying to figure out what my options were. Less than a day later he was gone. Simon’s last day was uncomfortable. Not bad, but definitely not carefree. He was retaining fluid that seemed to be pressing on his lungs, and it affected his breathing. His vet called to check on him and agreed that it was time to say goodbye. Simon’s happy, comfortable last few months made seeing him decline much easier on me than it could have been. I knew he couldn’t last forever, so knowing he was happy and comfortable were all that mattered to me. And then for him to pass in just a day of slight discomfort, with clear knowledge and test results that he would not improve, made saying goodbye as easy as it could be. He really made his passing so easy for me and I’m so thankful and grateful to him for that. Because it’s so difficult to say goodbye to such a warm, loving, wonderful boy. I’m so lucky he wasn’t in pain or distress. And so grateful for our time together in his last few days.
On the day he passed, the afternoon of Tuesday, April 15th, he hadn’t purred in more than a day and he wasn’t moving much. He was getting a little uncomfortable and he didn’t want me to move him or touch him much. So I just left him alone to sleep and brought him water when we needed it. Later I sat down next to him, without touching him, and told him all the stories about his life that were special to me. We reminisced about his buddies Hodjee and Meelee, about his rough start in NYC and about his life here in Seattle with so many birds. His eyes were closed and his breathing was a little labored, but he purred as he listened to me talk about our lives together. Then he fell asleep and in the evening a veterinarian came to the house to help Simon pass on. He was calm, comfortable and very peaceful. I kissed his head and said goodbye and he was gone.
He was simply the best boy. The sweetest, kindest most loving little guy ever. I love him to pieces and I miss him terribly. But I’m grateful for every moment we had together.
Rest in peace, sweet boy. XOXOX