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Old 01-10-2015, 04:31 PM
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Goodbye Charlie

I finally feel able to post about my loss, but I'm still struggling badly with it. Apologies for the length of the post, I guess I just have to let it out.

My African Grey Charlie passed away on 26th December 2014 at 11:06 PM. I got him as a 4 year old in early 1986, he'd been rescued from the foyer of an hotel where he was ill treated by several staff members.

It took a while to earn his trust but the bond we developed was just beautiful, though I was the only one he'd ever let handle him.

He'd never shown any signs of illness but in 2004 he developed aspergillosis. The first vet we took him to didn't know enough about birds but instead of referring him straight away. Eventually he saw a specialist who saved him with major surgery to his nose and he has had to be nebulised twice daily for the rest of his life, as well as being on a course of anti-fungal drugs (a shame VFEND wasn't available back then.

Unfortunately the asper came back again a couple of years later, this time internally. More major surgery but the wonderful vet pulled him through, though the pain medication left him immune suppressed and he developed pneumonia. He spent nearly 6 months in hospital in total and I visited him every day making a 110 mile round trip after work (the staff there loved his character even if he did try and bite them).

He suffered recurrent breathing problems and had frequent vistis to the vet in the following years, the asper also flaring up again in late 2013. Fortunately, with vfend now available he seemed to recover well.

Then on Christmas day he seemed to develop breathing problems briefly. He'd had a number of episodes like this and a fair few late night/early morning dashes to the vets as false alarms. Just a bit of quiet needed. So I put him back in his cage overnight, getting up regularly to check on him. The next morning he seemed fine. He was happy, his normal self and eating well on the 26th. Then at around 10:15 PM he started to display symptoms again. I prepared his carry cage and was going to ring the vet in the hope he was available because of the time of year (we only have two Avian specialists within a 70 mile radius). He was sat on my shoulder, slwly getting worse and then he was gone.

I was totally beside myself. He wouldn't have survived the journey to the vet in any case. 28 years with him and 10 years of almost constant care and very large sums spent on veterinary bills (I'd have re-mortgaged the house if necessary to pay for his care). Regular checkups during which he had to go under anesthetic to be scoped. Those 10 years of care made the bond even closer.

We knew he might not reach his potential lifespan because of the illnesses, but you still can't prepare yourself for that sudden departure and we'd hoped we'd have a few more happy years with him yet.

I know in my heart I'd given him a lot of love, care and a happy life, but it's still impossible to escape the feelings of guilt and worry that I'd failed him somehow. Was his original illness preventable (the vet assures me there were many possible reasons he could have fallen victim to aspergillosis originally and because he had illnesses when we first got him, his immune system was already weak). What if I'd been able to contact the vet on Christmas day? Was there something that could have been done? Should I have tried and not seen how he was overnight, taking a risk that it was just another false alarm.

He positively hated the vet, if I'd gotten him there on the 26th, his respiration was so bad he may have had a heart attack just through being handled and the stress might have killed him. I'd have hated for him to have died in that situation. I also think about the fact he could have been in the vet's overnight, still not have made it. I wouldn't have been with him and he might have died alone.

At least I was there with him at the end and he was in his own home, but it's difficult reconciling that knowledge and the fears of him dieing alone with the worry that he could have been saved and that I failed him.

The house is so quiet and empty without his presence. He had such an impressive vocabulary and was incredibly interactive. What's worse is, I've been hunting through old photos and searching for video of him and find I've actually got very little. 28 years and it feels like I took his presence for granted.

I found this forum because I was struggling to come to terms with it and wondered how others coped. I wish I'd found it while he was still around. I don't know many other parrot owners locally and very few people can understand the sense of loss as in their eyes it's just a bird, whereas I feel like I've lost a child and a best friend.
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:40 PM
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Re: Goodbye Charlie

My heartfelt condolences to the loss of your beloved Charlie.

HUGS to you! Please, don't blame yourself for anything. You gave Charlie EVERYTHING...and then so much more than that.

Fly free Charlie!
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:45 PM
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Re: Goodbye Charlie

So sorry to hear of your beloved Charlie's passing. Please know that my thoughts are with you in this difficult time
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:14 PM
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Re: Goodbye Charlie

I'm so sorry for your loss of Charlie. What a lucky birdie he was to have you as his family. And, it sounds like you were lucky to have him, too.
Rest in peace, Charlie. You are loved.
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Old 01-10-2015, 05:37 PM
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Re: Goodbye Charlie

I'm so sorry for your loss. He was lucky to have you.

Fly free Charlie and may you meet again!
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Old 01-10-2015, 06:20 PM
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Re: Goodbye Charlie

Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss... I'm in tears. We grow so deeply attached to our fids that they are like children to us. Charlie had wonderful 28 years of his life with you. Gosh, I cannot even think of 28 years ago - I was just a little girl back then, and having a beloved pet for so long makes it unbearably painful to loose him. All people here can relate and understand your sorrow.
Hugs to you!!! Stay strong. He is flying free happy now, and you'll meet some day! Heaven without birds would be boring place.
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Old 01-10-2015, 06:36 PM
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Re: Goodbye Charlie

So sorry for your loss! Thoughts and prayers your way!
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Old 01-10-2015, 07:38 PM
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Re: Goodbye Charlie

I'm so sorry for your loss. What an incredible journey the two of you shared. Twenty eight years sounds like a very long time, but with a beloved companion the time we have with them is never long enough. Taking care of an animal when they are ill creates such a strong bond. I know the pain is intense, and it hurts even more when you feel like no one understands. I don't think people intend to be cruel, they don't understand because they have never had the joy or the bond an animal companion offers. In time you will be able to remember all the laughter you shared with Charlie. Give yourself time to grieve and take care of yourself. After reading your story, I honestly don't believe you ever took a single second of Charlie's life for granted. He was lucky to have such a devoted, loving caregiver.

Fly Free Little One, you will be remembered always,
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Old 01-10-2015, 07:39 PM
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Re: Goodbye Charlie

I am so sorry for your loss. Your pain is evident in every word you wrote, and made me cry. Charlie was so lucky to have you for a parront, you did everything for him you possibly could. You did not fail him at all, and you were there for him while he crossed the bridge. My deepest sympathies to you.
Fly free, Charlie...you are loved.
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Old 01-10-2015, 08:03 PM
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Re: Goodbye Charlie

Poor dear, there are never any words that ease the pain of a beloved companion animal. Virtual hugs to you in the hopes that you'll be better in time. Just take care of yourself and don't blame yourself when it's obvious you went above and beyond to care for your baby.
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