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How do I know if it’s time to let him go?

Ravenlock

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Wendy
Hello,

I’ve been keeping birds for 20 yrs, everything from finches to parrots. I currently have 12 birds. 7 finches, 2 diamond doves, 2 budgies and a green cheek.

The question is about my diamond dove. He has been special needs for over a year now. He is 18yrs old (maybe older) and his partner is 16. He does eat and drink and he can still perch. However, he is blind in one eye, cannot fly, has stopped preening himself, lost weight and recently I’ve noticed he falls over sideways if he’s bumped by his partner. I’ve also noticed that the partner won’t sit with him anymore.

Is it time to put him to sleep? I’m so afraid he’s suffering now. I remember my vet saying “if you think it’s time, it’s past it” but I’m hesitating for some reason. Thank you for any thoughts
 

Hankmacaw

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Like your vet said, it is your decision to make on your own. None of us can say kill or don't kill we aren't there and don't know your bird. You know him best of anyone. Beside, I personally would never be so presumptuous as to give advice on anything as personal and permanent.
 

The_Mayor

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Yes, it's absolutely a matter of weighing different factors to get to a point where you can make a decision whether their life is still a gift or has become a burden to them.

But I also know that I carry guilt for animals that I allowed to suffer for too long because I kept thinking "maybe we're not there yet."

I don't know whether animals have special senses that they "know things" but from what you've described, and particularly that his partner has detached from him, in a social species, I think his burdens probably outweigh the pleasures at this point.

So, I guess I would be that presumptuous, because I know there've been times I wish that someone had said to me, "she's not getting better. It's time to let her go."
 

Ravenlock

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Like your vet said, it is your decision to make on your own. None of us can say kill or don't kill we aren't there and don't know your bird. You know him best of anyone. Beside, I personally would never be so presumptuous as to give advice on anything as personal and permanent.
I’m…sure you didn’t mean that to sound as harsh as it does. I’m not looking to kill my bird, and I’m not actually asking if I should put him to sleep. I was looking for some guidance, maybe a person with a similar story. I’ve had this bird in my bedroom for 18 yrs. I love him, I take good care of him! I even designed a special cage for him in his declining years. I don’t want him to die, but I don’t want him to suffer either.
 

Ravenlock

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Yes, it's absolutely a matter of weighing different factors to get to a point where you can make a decision whether their life is still a gift or has become a burden to them.

But I also know that I carry guilt for animals that I allowed to suffer for too long because I kept thinking "maybe we're not there yet."

I don't know whether animals have special senses that they "know things" but from what you've described, and particularly that his partner has detached from him, in a social species, I think his burdens probably outweigh the pleasures at this point.

So, I guess I would be that presumptuous, because I know there've been times I wish that someone had said to me, "she's not getting better. It's time to let her go."
Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I had a cat that I waited to long on and she suffered more then she needed to. I regret that terribly.
I think in my heart of hearts…I know it’s time. I just need the courage to call tomorrow. Thank you
 

tka

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I've heard the saying "better a week too early than a day too late". Animals don't understand that they might recover - they only understand what they feel at that moment. You've given your dove a wonderful long, fulfilled life. All lives come to an end, and at 18 years old I don't think this is something that he will come back from. Even if this is something like an infection that could be treated, his body may not be able to handle the stress of medication and it would only be a matter of time until the next health issue came along. If he was my bird, I would make an appointment with the vet for euthanasia and completely spoil him in his last days - whatever he wants to eat, all the forbidden foods he wanted and wasn't allowed, cuddles and whatever he needs to ease his passing.

Please take solace in that he's lived a good long life. This is the last kindness that you can give him - allowing him to pass gently into whatever comes afterwards rather than letting him get to the point where he is miserable.
 

Hankmacaw

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I meant it just like I said it. It is your decision and no one elses.
 

Solly

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I am so sorry, it’s never easy to ask this question..

I feel that when people reach out and ask it, they already know in their heart what the answer is and a little bit of us wants someone to grant permission, to ease the weight of it. a trouble shared is a trouble halved as they say and this is one of the hardest things pet owners need to decide.

there are many ways to practically work it out. Some vets have a scale of what constitutes quality of life and sometimes that makes it easier to take the final step.

i can only speak for myself in saying that if that were my bird I would take that decision. But I am very strict about as Little suffering as possible. For me when the quality of life isn’t there, ie they are unable to carry out and maintain natural behaviours comfortably or they stop that’s when I know in my heart it’s time to send them over the rainbow bridge.
my ethics are mine, that’s how I reasoned out all my choices. It isn’t wrong if you do it differently.


prayers for you And yours :heart:
 
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Solly

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Thank you. I will call the vet tomorrow morning and…go wherever that leads.
please come back and let us know how it goes and if you need someone to reach out to, there are plenty of people here (or myself, feel free to pm me) who will support you If you do decide to allow him to pass peacefully.
 

keirieski17

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I know how hard it is to know it’s time but also be afraid you’re making the wrong. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to an animal’s lifespan, and it sounds like he’s lived a good life. I know you’ll make the right decision.
 

hertzchasi

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I’m…sure you didn’t mean that to sound as harsh as it does. I’m not looking to kill my bird, and I’m not actually asking if I should put him to sleep. I was looking for some guidance, maybe a person with a similar story. I’ve had this bird in my bedroom for 18 yrs. I love him, I take good care of him! I even designed a special cage for him in his declining years. I don’t want him to die, but I don’t want him to suffer either.
Modify his area for his needs, make it easy for him. Love on him... Till you know it's time.... If he is still enjoying life just make it easier... Our grand parents may take 20mins to climb 6 stairs but no one is putting them down over it, right? U will know when it's time
 

keirieski17

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Modify his area for his needs, make it easy for him. Love on him... Till you know it's time.... If he is still enjoying life just make it easier... Our grand parents may take 20mins to climb 6 stairs but no one is putting them down over it, right? U will know when it's time
I think it’s important to acknowledge the difference here that older people know why their body hurts and why they’re slowing done. Older animals don’t, so they just hurt. I think anthropomorphizing in this case can really lead to making our animals suffer more than they need to.
 

Ravenlock

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He has a had modified cage for over a year now. He has a flat seed dish, flat grit dish and water bowl. He has pigeon ramps of varying widths to sleep on and exercise his feet. I bath him twice a week(or more) to keep him clean. The toppling over and the fact that he has stopped preening are on top of the fact that he’s been blind in one eye and unable to fly for over a year now.

Anyway. I’ll call the vet first thing tomorrow and see what he says. My vet is pretty brutally honest when it comes to birds. He’s a great avian vet, but doesn’t sugar coat things. Thank you all for the replies. I do feel a bit better
 

finchly

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Vets are pretty good at guiding you in these things. I’m sorry you have to make this decision. My husband and I always joke (through our tears) that our animals never die, they force us to make “that” decision again and again. It’s always horrible, and we always question ourselves.

Please know that we’re all behind you.
 

Tanya

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Allowing my first cockatiel to be eased into her rest was one of the hardest things I ever had to decide to do. She seemed to suffering and when she started struggling to poop l realized it was time. Though I missed her terribly when she was gone, I am glad that her days were shortened. I asked for a necropsy. Later thr vet called and gently told me that she had a tumor in her abdomen as big as the yolk of a hard-boiled chicken egg ... in her tiny cockatiel body. He said I must have given her remarkable care because he had never seen a bird that small with a tumor that large. It was a mixed feeling, but at least part of me was comforted knowing she really was very, very sick.

Since you are considering it, some part of you sees what he is going through and is already looking to ease his suffering. There is no right or easy answer. Give him some favorite treats and the kind of attention he likes best and tell him about what you are considering. I don't know that animals understand what we say, but I think that flocking animals understand the emotional content of our voices. Its OK to ask him how he is and if he is in too much pain to bear. You could even, if it is true, let him know that it is OK to let go if he needs. Quietly watch him, and you will know deep down what is the best for both of you.
 

Solly

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Popping by to check for updates and let you know I’m thinking of you.
 

Birdbabe

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Follow your heart honey, and watch him,,he will let you know,,, :hug8:
 

QB1rd

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Coming in to say that I had to put my dog down today and I know exactly what you're going through. Our vet gave us the choice not to put her down since it was a routine visit today, not an end of life visit, but we chose based on what we thought would mean the best quality for her. It's so, so hard and hurts so, so much. If you want to talk I have open ears.
 

Ravenlock

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I’m so sorry about your dog! It is such a horrible feeling and a terrible decision.

Thank you all. I took him to the vet on Tuesday. He has severe arthritis in his wings and is unable to move his left wing now, the reason he is falling over. He is underweight, but otherwise he is in fairly good shape for a very old bird.

Vet gave me some pain meds and anti inflammatories and we made an appt for next Tuesday for follow up. We’re giving him a week to see how he responds. He does seem a bit perkier and his partner is sitting with him again, so there’s that. I’ve been spoiling him with millet and greens and extra treatises. If this is his final week, it will be a good one :)
 
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