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Ziggy's Story

Ziggymon

Biking along the boulevard
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Heidrun, or Mouse
“I hope to someday be the person that my dog thinks I am.” Most of us are familiar with that quote. In my case, I’ve replaced it with “I hope to someday be even half the person my bird is.

This is Ziggy’s story:

My ex and I adopted Ziggy from rescue - he wanted a macaw, while I had always hoped to eventually adopt a grey. I brought Ziggy home on a bitterly cold night a week before Chistmas of 2008, singing Christmas carols to him the entire three and a half hour drive.

He had been found roaming in the house of a hospitalized terminally ill old man when the man’s kids went to clean out the house preparatory to selling it. The son and daughter in law called the rescue because they were afraid of approaching the bird. He was suffering from respiratory issues and had apparently been housed in a rabbit/small animal cage, although he had been roaming the house during the man’s weeks-long hospitalization. That’s all that is known for sure about his history; the old man was very confused by that point, and was saying a lot of things that were patently not true/didn’r make sense.

What was apparent was that Ziggy had had a hard knock life, as evidenced by his poor feathering and the atrophied state of the tendons along both wings, which is only seen in extremely old birds and ones who have been confined in a small cramped space over a prolonged period of time. Even after working with him on wing extension for almost two years, he can only extend his wings at 50% of normal. His vet anticipates that, with several more years of work, he may get to the point where he can fully extend his wings and eventually flap them, although he believes he will never be able to fly.

As for his age – after getting to know Ziggy well, I concluded that he’s old enough to be past the first flush of hormones, but still relatively young, perhaps in his late teens or early twenties. His vet agrees, saying that would put him in the age bracket when B&G’s first became widely sold.

Ziggy was supposed to be my ex’s bird, but he was intimidated by Ziggy. I could see the bird was hungry for human contact, even though he pinched painfully when he was on my ex or me, so I gave him the contact he needed. I had bruises for six months, during the course of which he gave his heart to me and I gave mine to him.

Ziggy made rapid progress, from being uneasy about his grip when perching (apparently he didn’t have a perch, or hadn’t had one for a long time, and he was uneasy about his footing and grip on an arm) to being completely fearless about perching, swinging and climbing. It took me longer than it should have to realize the problem with his wings – apparently, it wasn’t noticed during his initial vetting at the rescue – but when he fell from his big swing in the kitchen and I saw that he hadn’t flapped at all to break his fall, the light went on. As he became ever more daredevil, I replaced his swings and stands with play areas closer to the ground, and I moved the perches in his cage to the halfway mark or lower. What I so stupidly didn’t see was the hazard posed by the ledge in his double macaw cage, on which the divider rests when it’s being used.

Ten weeks ago, I got up, let the dogs out, got Ziggy out of his cage and put him on his stand in the kitchen. It was only then, coming into a less dimly lit room, that I noticed anything wrong – blood on both his cheeks. I knew it was something serious, so I called the U of I vet clinic while I ran to get his travel cage into the car and got dressed. When I picked him up to take him out to the car, I saw the quarter inch gap in his lower beak. After we got home that night, I was able to figure out what had happened, from the blood splatter. He must of climbed to the ceiling of his cage and lost his grip – the force of the fall would not have been great enough to do that much damage if he had fallen from one of the perches. In any case, he just happened to land right there, in the middle of the cage, with his lower beak striking that partition ledge.

The break was just to the left of the middle of his beak, and extended into the bone. He also had a less serious break near the upper right hand corner of his lower beak. Six tiny screws were inserted into his beak, with wire wrapped around them to pull the beak together. Epoxy over all of this, so keep him from getting snagged on the wire or the screws. After four weeks, the epoxy had loosened enough to need replacement. When it was taken off, it could be seen that the screws hadn’t held, the pieces of the beak had pulled apart, and no regrowth between the two sides had taken place. The vet removed enough material from each side of the beak to create new, raw, edges, wired the pieces together, put epoxy over it. In the succeeding weeks, Ziggy had to be put under twice more, to add more epoxy to the edges, which were loosening. When we went in for our weekly recheck last Thursday, the epoxy had loosened enough that it needed to be replaced. When it was taken off, it could be seen that the edges of the beak were decaying and chipping away even more. The beak would never mend, and new growth would have that same gap. The beak had no structural integrity, and Ziggy pulled off the prosthesis attempt which the vet had attempted to go over the gap, within five minutes of waking up. Amputation was scheduled for the following day, last Friday. We went home for the night, and I watched him carefully – the fear was that he would get snagged and pull the beak off.

Ziggy came through surgery with flying colors. We came home that night, and he ate Thai curried tofu which I had pureed with the immersion blender. Then he played with some of his musical toys, and climbed in his cage, using that hooked top beak. On Saturday, he ate well again. With each meal, I see him becoming more dexterous in using his tongue in place of his lower beak.

What I have always known is that Ziggy is extremely smart, loves music, cuddles like a ‘too and has a wicked sense of humor. He flirts shamelessly with me, talks in sentences at night when he should be sleeping, and trusts me completely.

What I have learned these past ten weeks is that Ziggy is the most courageous, the most fearless, the most optimistic and the most completely loving and trusting person I have ever known. He was unfailingly charming and cooperative during all those weekly vet visits. He never got grumpy, not even with all that pain.

That first day, when we finally got to the clinic, after that interminable two hour drive, during which I was afraid he would go into shock, he bent down his bloodied head and kissed my hand with his poor broken beak, to comfort me. Last Thursday night, as I was heartsick with the thought of taking him in for the amputation, he again comforted me, all evening, and all the next morning. This is who Ziggy is, despite everything he has been through in life, the full extent of which I will never know. What greatness of spirit, what love.

I hope that someday I will be even half the person my bird is.
 
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kcbee

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Thank you for sharing. What a wonderful story. :hug8: Ziggy sounds amazing.
 

April

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He's such a strong soul :heart:
 

marian

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I believe if its meant to be.... it will be.....you were there for ziggy when he needed you in 2008.What a wonderful caring home you have offered up to him.Sounds like he trusts you so much.He sure has been through alot in his life.What a strong little soul he has...and even more important,is you in his life.His story made me cry and smile.thanks for sharing it with all of us..Please keep us all updated on ziggy.:hug8:
 

ncGreyBirdLady

They call Me crazy like its a bad thing!
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:hug8::hug8::hug8::heart::hug8::hug8::hug8:
 

Grammy

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Thank you so much for sharing this. Bless you for being such a good and caring friend to your wonderful Ziggy.
 

Holiday

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Sending hugs to you and Ziggy. :hug8: What a remarkable story. And a very important reminder for all of us who have cages with those middle dividers...
 

Quest

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What a sad, sweet, beautiful story. Ziggy
deserves your love. Please give him a kiss for
me. :heart:
 

Merlie

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Thank you for sharing. The connection you have with your flock is amazing, it really does shine through. Hugs to both you and Ziggy for what you've gone thru together, and strong wishes for a wonderful future.
 

merlinsmom13

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Ziggy is a hero who shows us how we should approach life. :heart: :hug8:
 

Ziggymon

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Sending hugs to you and Ziggy. :hug8: What a remarkable story. And a very important reminder for all of us who have cages with those middle dividers...
Yes. You know how oblivious I was to the danger posed by that divider ledge? That first day, as I was driving home from the U of I with Ziggy, I was planning how I would pad out his cage with a foam mattress topper. I was planning on how I could make two equal pads, sew covers for them, and put one in either side of the cage. It wasn't until I saw the blood splatter and realized what happened that the thought of the divider ledge as the culprit even entered my mind. So stupidly oblivious.

What a sad, sweet, beautiful story. Ziggy
deserves your love. Please give him a kiss for
me. :heart:
I will.
:hug8:
God Bless you both with complete healing for Ziggy and a long time to be together.

Ginger
That long time - that's my hope too.
:hug8:
Ziggy is a hero who shows us how we should approach life. :heart: :hug8:
Yes, he certainly is my hero. :hug8:


Thank you all so much. :hug8:
 
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