Little Man

I was lucky enough to get through to your show on Monday and relay “Toby’s” story. Toby was my beloved Quaker Parrot and this is a tribute to him.

Toby was 3 months old when I was surprised with him as a Christmas gift from my family. He and I bonded immediately and became “best friends”. He trusted me enough to lie on his back in my hand and sleep for hours. He was a treasure.

Quakers can live 25-30 years and until the age of 13 he was in excellent health. One afternoon as he was sitting on top of his cage he was frightened by a loud noise and flew off the cage into the wall. When I picked him up he was limp. I thought he was just scared and held him for a while to calm him. I then realized that he could not move his neck and could not stand or balance.. I made a nest out of towels so that I could sit him (propped up) in his house until I could get him to the vet the following day.

After exmining Toby, the vet told me that there was no way that he would survive the next 48 hrs. I begged her to give me the alternatives – anything that I could do to prolong his life – IF and only IF she thought he was not in pain.

The vet said that I would need to hand feed Toby 4-5 times each day (which was basically giving him 3-4 syringes of food at each feeding) along with giving him syringes of water. She advised that I should exercise his legs and neck daily to keep him flexible so that his joints would not stiffen.

I took Toby to work with me everyday and the neatest thing was that there was about a 1 mile stretch of interstate enroute to work that had some fairly large bumps. Each morning I would have him propped up in his “color coordinated towel nest” inside his cage and right before getting to the bumpy section of interstate I would say, “get ready here comes the big bump” and you could see his little toes curl just the least bit and I knew that he knew exactly what I was saying. Also at night I would lie in bed and hold him in the palm of my hand and if I said “shake your tail feathers” he would barely shake his feathers, so there again, I knew that he knew what I was saying.

At the next visit to the vet, I told her that I knew that Toby was still in there, he could see and hear and I would never give him up unless I thought he was in pain.

For almost two years I never left Toby alone. I took him to the work, to the grocery store, on vacation, everywhere that I went – he went. On Sundays I would give him a bath by holding him in the palm of my hand and lowering him down into a bowl of warm water. I would bathe him with baby shampoo, let him stretch his little legs. I would wrap him in a towel and then lay him against my chest and dry him with the blow dryer on low. He loved it. After his bath I would prop him in his nest and he would sleep for hours.

As the .months wore on, it became more and more difficult for Toby to swallow and the vet ever so gently tried to prepare me. She siuggested that I enjoy the time that I had left with Toby. The night before he passed away, I held him in the palm of my hand and sang to him and asked him to shake his tail feathers and he did…. it was his only means of communication – his way of telling me that he loved me too..

When I awoke the next morning, he had passed and I wanted to die. I felt that I shoudl have been able to do more. My vet assured me that I had done everything possible and that quite honestly the little fellow had lived two years longer than even she thought possible.

Toby has been gone now for 4 1/2 yrs. I still have his cage, some of his toys and his picture on the wall in my office. I love him as much today as I did when he was alive – and I always will. I thank God for entrusting Toby to me and letting me have so many wonderful years with him. I would do it all again in a breath.

When we buried Toby, we buried his favorite toys with him: his mirror, blush brush, eye shadow brush, his stuffed bird cage buddy – everything that had given him comfort.

I felt guilty at first but I did get another Quaker parrot named “Kiwi”. I love him very much and try never to compare him (in any way to Toby). Although Kiwi’s personality is totally different (from Toby’s), he is a wonderful bird. I did not get him to take the place of Toby. I got him to nuture, love and give him the best life possible.

My heart still breaks for my Toby bird. However, I can take comfort in knowing that he knew (without a doubt) that I Loved Him and I always will.

I love you “Little Man”.

Sharon from NC