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
It’s true. Ducks and Clucks is moving from Seattle, WA to Salt Lake City, Utah soon.
Right now we’re busy prepping the house for sale and doing everything to get it staged for listing.
There’s painting prep going on.
A new kitchen floor.
The deck is being prepped and stained.
We even had all the junk hauled away.
Olivia is making sure the chicken coop is clean.
And everyone else is pooping on the lawn so it grows back really green.
Of course the whole flock is coming with us on the move, without question. But there are a lot of expenses required to make that happen and make it comfortable and safe for them. So while we try not to ask for help unless we really need it, now is one of those times.
We have about 6-8 weeks to make the move happen, and we’re working on securing a safe temporary shelter for the flock at a local sanctuary. But you can see the other expenses that we’ll need to cover to keep the crew happy and healthy.
It’s a big move and we’re trying not to think of it all at once because it gets overwhelming. But we’ve had so many flock friends and fans for so long that we wanted to let you know as soon as we could. Stay tuned for more updates soon. And if you can help us make the move happen with a donation, that would be awesome.
Thank you and quacks and clucks,
Tiff and the flock
DONATE LINK: http://ducksandclucks.com/blog/donate/
EXTRA INFO: Someone asked us WHY we’re moving. It’s a lot of things, mostly personal family-related stuff. And I’m currently working as a consultant which allows me to work from anywhere. No need to be in Seattle when family and friends are mostly in Utah (where I’m originally from).
Today we got a call from our vet’s office, asking if we could foster a duck if they could get him feeling better.
Sometimes when they call I can’t help. But today I could. And I love helping a sick duck, so I asked if I could help treat him right away.
This duck came to the vet with a bad infection that probably started with a scrape on his foot (our own handicapped girl Danny gets the same kind of scrapes on her feet). The scrape got infected and spread system-wide. It’s basically septic arthritis. The duck went home with some antibiotics, but he got much worse, and his family brought him back in to be euthanized.
Specialty vet care can be expensive, but it’s something to expect when you have a special pet. In this case, his family decided they’d rather euthanize him. But the vet didn’t want to do that, so she offered to take the duck and keep him to treat him.
By that time, he was dehydrated, hadn’t been eating and his infection had gone from bad to much worse. A normal white blood cell count (WBC) in a duck is about 10-13 (10,000-13,000). This duck’s infection is at 115 (115,000) which in itself could kill him. So he started intravenous antibiotics and he has thankfully started to improve. He’s now on injectable and oral antibiotics.
Even though he was very sick, it’s tough to euthanize a duck that just has a leg infection that went systemic. It’s not like he had an open belly wound or even broken bones. In the grand scheme of things, an infection is pretty easy to treat, but it can be expensive. A bum leg is no reason to take a life away though, especially when he’s such a young duck (probably less than a year old). So we’re glad the vet convinced his family to give him up.
His name was Crispin, but I thought that name sounded too much like Crispy, and I don’t like food names for pets. So I asked him if I could call him Teddy Crispin instead and he said “bwah.” I’m pretty sure that means yes. He’s a silver appleyard domestic duck.
The vet is paying for all of Teddy’s medication, so we don’t need donations for him. He’s here until he has recovered from his infection, and then we’ll start looking for a forever home for him. He’s not out of the woods yet because his infection is very serious. His white blood count is actually the highest I’ve seen. So keep your fingers and webbed feet crossed for his recovery. He’s in isolation right now, in the dining room pen. Once he’s feeling better he can move outside in his own space near the other ducks, which we think he’ll like.
So let’s welcome foster duck Teddy to Ducks and Clucks and make him feel at home. We’ll keep you posted on how he’s doing on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/DucksAndClucks.
Quacks and clucks,
Tiff and the flock
P.S. I’m not a vet, so the above description is my lay-person interpretation of what the vet said. Take it with a grain of salt.
If you remember, Si the foster chicken came to us in late November after having survived a raccoon attack that killed her friend. Both she and her friend were rescued after being dumped in a forest, but their pen wasn’t as safe as her rescuers hoped it would be.
So Si came here to recover from her eye infection and minor raccoon bite wounds. She needed to be here 7-10 days for treatment, but we offered to keep her until her pen could be made more secure.
A couple of weeks turned into a month turned into two months and, well… she’s still here.
Her eye is all better, her feathers have grown back in and she’s a happy little hen.
She’s a very friendly, talkative lap hen too.
But her rescuers have changed their mind and decided they aren’t ready to take on the responsibility of chickens right now.
As cute as this little rescued hen is, I was hoping we could give her back so we’d have room here to foster the next bird in need.
She’s been here too long now, and I think another adjustment just wouldn’t be fair to her. She’s become attached to me and is comfortable in her routine. I think we’ll be able to eventually move her in with the other hens, but it is going to take quite a while.
But she’s here for now and likely here to stay.
I haven’t broken the news to Carol yet though, so let’s keep this news between us.
Si is of course a wonderful, lovable and friendly hen. Hopefully we can just get her settled in soon so we can keep a space open for the next bird in need.
We never recommend backyard flocks to anyone because over half of all chicks hatched never make it to their first birthday. Most male chicks are killed at birth, either suffocated or thrown in a grinder. Other chickens are dumped (like Si and her friend), attacked, get sick or are surrendered to shelters after people tire of the work and mess they can be. In the past week alone, the Seattle Animal Shelter has received thirteen hens who need new homes. THIRTEEN OF THEM. Two were left in a donation bin at night, one of them so sick she had to hold a wing out to keep her balance. (The other 11 were left behind when people moved out of a home. They just abandoned a flock of 11 chickens unattended in their vacant yard).
Hens like Si can live to be over a decade old. Our rescued hen Olivia is somewhere north of 13-years-old now and still going strong.
Please do me a favor. Do Si and her chicken friends all a favor and DON’T HATCH CHICKS this year. Tell others to avoid a flock all together, or adopt. There are thousands upon thousands of egg-laying hens available for adoption right now on PetFinder.com. Just enter your zip code and read all about them.
And while it wasn’t what I was expecting, please join me in officially welcoming Si to the family. She’s a wonderful, sweet, darling kid… even if Carol doesn’t agree.
Welcome to the motley crew, Si. Make yourself at home.
This is “Agoostus.” He was dumped at a park in Kent, WA. Some blog friends of ours who rescue pigeons saw him and brought him to me, as he was too friendly and domestic to leave at the park. Agoostus was likely hand-raised, and his nails are even trimmed, so someone obviously cared about him until they threw him away. He is extremely sweet and friendly, and would not have survived at the park.
We are keeping Agoostus until we can transfer him to a forever sanctuary tomorrow. Agoostus is likely young and could live up to 20 years. The care and feeding and housing for 20 years for a goose gets very, very expensive. Could you help us send Agoostus on his way with a little trust fund for his long-term care? His rescuers have already chipped in, and we’re hoping we can raise $500 for him.
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 Agoostus this holiday season, it would mean a lot. Thank you!
We’ll update the total all evening. Thank you!
WE HAVE MET OUR GOAL AND THEN SOME! THANK YOU!!!!! You all are a wonderful community of compassionate people!
Quacks and clucks, and heps!
Tiff and the flock
Okay everybody. It’s Thanksgiving today, so why don’t we go around and share one thing we’re thankful for this season? O’Malley? Why don’t you start.
“I am thankful that my wings grew back!” – Me too, O’Malley
“And I am thankful for a warm nest, and a safe pen. – I’m glad you like it, Petunia
“I am thankful for all of the bugs that have gone into my tummy this year.” – And some cookies too, Lenora
“I am thankful that the contractors are done working in the house. I do not like them!” – Oh I bet you are really thankful for that, Simon
“I am thankful that you give me my very own food bowl, so I don’t have to share with Carol.” – Happy to help, Olivia
“I am thankful for quality face-pet time with my people.” – I am thankful for that too, Carol
“I am thankful for long swims in a fresh pool on a warm day.” – That’s a good one, Danny girl
“I am thankful for the sun that makes the grasses grow, and the rains that make the worms pop up from the ground.” – That’s deep, Olly
“I am thankful that you help me out of jams when I get too angry and bite someone.” – I know you try to be good, Miles
“I am thankful for the kibble you give me when I bop you on the head.” – You’re welcome, Crow crow
“I am thankful for naps in the warm sun on the green grass, and for Ruby.” – That’s sweet, Lionel
“I am thankful for doodling in mud puddles and for my Lionel.” – You two are too cute, Ruby doo
“I am thankful that you help me wash my face sometimes, and scratch my head.” – I’m happy to help, Lester
“And I am thankful for all of my feathered and furry family, and all they teach me about being still and quiet, and listening carefully.” – Silly Human
“So, what are you guys thankful for?”
These two young hens were abandoned in Sammamish, WA and need a safe, happy forever home that will keep them as pets.
They like to forage for bugs and are good friends with each other. Do you have room for these two lovely ladies? Contact Lora at email@example.com if you’re near Sammamish, WA and can provide a safe forever home.
Separately, this little guy is also looking for a safe, forever home.
His name is Mr Rhett Butler. He is a fine upstanding rooster citizen and would happily protect a flock of lovely hens. He would even be an only child if you have a safe forever home.
He’s not too picky, but he would like to be safe and happy. That’s not too much to ask now, is it? If you can help Rhett out, and you’re near West Seattle, WA, contact Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and quacks and clucks,
Tiff and the flock
And now for something completely different!
You may know that with all the rescued animals here, I’m vegan. That means for 4+ years now I’ve avoided all animal products as much as possible. (I was also vegetarian for several years before going vegan). But before all that, I used to looove korma. True korma is a sweet/spicy, yogurt-based Indian yellow curry. My favorite korma was from a restaurant in San Francisco called India Clay Oven. I rarely met a korma I didn’t like, but their recipe was my favorite. After missing korma for over a decade, I recently decided to find a good non-vegan korma recipe and try to vegan-ize it.
With 4 versions tried and eaten over the past month, I’m finally confident that this recipe is super tasty. It’s a little simpler than the recipe I started from, so I call it “Otter’s Vegan Korma Curry.” I tried versions with Beyond Meat and Gardein, but in the end, I prefer this combo of mushrooms, cauliflower and tofu. If you try this vegan recipe yourself, please comment and let me know what you think!
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of a garlic bulb, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne/red pepper (for medium; 1/2 tsp for mild, 2 tsp for hot)
2 tsp Indian garam masala
2 tsp Indian ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 pint sliced fresh crimini mushrooms
6 oz super firm tofu
1 chopped tomato
1/2 head of cauliflower
1 15oz (regular size) can coconut milk
1/2 cup cashew nuts or almond slivers
2 cups basmati white rice
Break the cauliflower into small florets and steam or boil until softened but not soggy (12 minutes steamed).
Start the rice. Use basmati rice, preferably from Pakistan. It makes a big difference. Follow directions on package using about 2 cups of rice. It likely takes about 20 minutes.
Using a high-sided pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic to your olive oil and cook for 1 minute.
Add the spices: turmeric, cayenne, garam masala, cumin, salt, and coriander. Stir for 1 minute.
Add the chopped tomato and ginger, and then the tofu and mushrooms. NOTE: Adjust heat or add a bit more oil to ensure your spices aren’t burning.
Cook until the mushrooms and tofu soak up the spices (2-4 minutes). Add in your steamed cauliflower and cook another 1-2 minutes.
Stir in the entire can of unsweetened coconut milk. Let it all simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Right before serving, add the cashews or almond slivers. NOTE: Without the cayenne, you’ll need more salt. This recipe is a bit undersalted because of the variance in cayenne… adjust to your own taste.
Garnish with a bit of cilantro and serve over basmati rice.
Makes 6-8 servings. Re-heats well in the microwave and is great for freezing.
Cooking time: 25 minutes.
“What’s that, Danny girl? Lionel is being dorky!? I will save you!”
“Now how do I cast a spell again? Oh that’s right… Ducks and clucks and muddy muck. Make Lionel behave like a GOOD duck.“
“Did it work? Is he still being dorky?”
“I’m pretty good at this.”
“Okay, I’m done being a Wizard. Take this off.”
You got it, Lessie. Thanks for playing along and dressing up. You make a GREAT wizard!
Lester dressed up very briefly so we could share a photo with his veterinarian. They’re running a contest and the prize is a free nail trim. Since Lessie is handicapped, he doesn’t walk enough to wear down his nails. So that would be a GREAT prize for him!
HaPpY HaLLoWeEn everyone!
If you haven’t already heard, our foster duckling Francis passed away unexpectedly on Saturday afternoon. Francis started limping on Thursday, went to the vet Friday and died Saturday. We all thought he had a sprained leg, but when he died suddenly, we had his remains necropsied by the vet to determine why he passed.
Francis’ necropsy showed severe kidney and liver disease. The vet said “it didn’t have anything to do with you in any way” which was a relief for us to hear. Unfortunately, Francis never had a chance. The liver damage was so severe that he bled internally, even into his muscles. If he were older, it could be a common problem in ducks called amyloidosis, which is sort of an immune-related disease. However, since Francis was so young (likely only 5 to 6-weeks-old) we’re having tissue samples sent out to a special lab to determine if the liver and kidney damage was caused by a virus or bacteria.
The good news is that it wasn’t caused by another duck picking on him here with us and he didn’t have a sprained leg. He was safe here like we thought he was, and he wasn’t hurt by the other ducks. It’s also good for me, as I don’t have to feel guilty that I should have done more to keep him safe. He was safe. I feel much better about that.
It’s also good that Francis was a feisty, active kid up until Thursday afternoon, and he died two days later. So he was pretty happy and rambunctious right up until his last two days.
The bad news is just that Francis is gone, and there’s nothing that could have been done to save him. We will share the results of the tissue sample analysis when we get that back, but it will likely be quite a while – two weeks or more. It might shed some light on why he was afflicted with kidney and liver disease so young. Hybrid ducks are known to have many problems, so it’s possible it was congenital or genetic. We’ll share when we know more.
I know his death came as a shock to many of the people who followed his short journey with us. It was especially hard for me, because I thought I might have let him down. When his limp was worse Friday morning and I made an appointment for the vet, Francis did something that a few other animals have done with me in the past. He directly asked me for help. I can’t explain it because it’s subtle, but Ramona did it in the past when she had aggressive lymphoma. Ramona, who was normally skittish and mostly ignored me, walked right up to me and stood in front of me asking for help. In her case, I was able to listen and the vet was able to do surgery and treat her with steroids which gave her a few extra months of great life before she succumbed to the lymphoma.
Francis did the same thing. He came to me on Friday morning, and when I picked him up, he melted into me and asked me for help. I knew at that moment that he could be in serious trouble. He was so wild and feisty up until that moment, and then he just made a choice to trust me because he needed help. It breaks my heart that there’s nothing I could do to help him. We took him to the vet, and it seemed that it was probably just a sprain after all. But my gut was in knots. I couldn’t figure out how a sprain could have happened. We chose to treat him with antibiotics just in case, to give him the best chance at a fast recovery. He came home with us and swam in the baby pool and ate.
Less than a day later he was gone.
It is always difficult for me to take in a foster duckling. I don’t have room to keep a new, healthy duckling forever, and yet I get attached and want to make sure I find the safest, best forever home possible, which is never a guarantee that he’ll live a long and happy life. Francis was only with us a little more than a week, but he captured our hearts with his larger-than-life attitude and his bossy, feisty personality. We had big hopes and dreams for him, so it was hard to say goodbye so soon.
Rest in peace, little Francis. We wish we could have done more for you in your short time on Earth, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Lots of love, baby Francis.
P.S. Special thanks to everyone for the good thoughts and condolences on the loss of Francis. I know many of you got attached to him too, and it was a shock to see him go. Thank you for the support.