When I first saw you, you & Sweetness were standing so close to each other that I could not tell where you ended & she began. You were both so scared & you felt the need to protect her. How valiant you were. You displayed & hissed when I approached, you poor baby. What terrible things happened to you to cause you to be so fearful and untrusting? I was bound & determined to make this transition easier on you.
The very next day was going to be stressful; a trip to the vet's office was in store. You were so frightened when I tried to towel you that you lashed out at me. When your well-guided attack found its intended target, I winced inside, but did not want to scare you any more. You wanted so much for me to leave you & Sweetness alone, but I knew I must continue. We needed to make sure you were at least physically okay. You were poked, prodded, clipped, & snipped. You were a real trooper through it all.
Once home, you leapt from the carrier to your cage. You dutifully stood watch over your charge & I gave you the space you needed to relax. Slowly, you began to allow me nearer to you. Before long, we were giving each other kisses & nuzzling. So much so, that I believed you were really beginning to enjoy it. How good I felt when you finally stepped up for me and let me hug you. You then allowed Sweetness to come close too.
When we came home from Wisconsin that Sunday evening, all was well. I let you out of your cage & you quickly went to Charly's cage. You were excited and running around. I walked away with your dirty dishes & when I returned, there you were...sitting on the grate of your cage, all fluffed up. I knew something was wrong. I looked all around to try & find a clue as to what happened, but there was nothing. I put you back on your perch only to witness your left foot, unable to open & grip, slide time & again from the perch. When Pat was stroking you, you closed your eyes and swayed unsteadily. This was definitely not your behavior. Quickly, we toweled you & you did not put up a fight. You knew something was wrong too & you trusted me to fix things. We rushed you to the emergency vet. They too, knew something was wrong.
They wanted to keep you overnight & I was to call before going to bed. I called & there was no new news. They asked that I pick you up in the morning for transport to our regular vet. Over the next several days, your health, & your weight, went up & down like a roller coaster. All the vets were stumped as to what was wrong with you. They tried everything. I visited you again on Thursday night. The vet said you had gained some weight & if you kept it on, you might be able to come home on Saturday. I was excited. Then, they brought me in to the farthest room in the hospital. When I walked in, I saw the sterile environment & the big, white incubator. When you first saw me, you jumped, I'm sorry; I did not mean to scare you. They let me open the incubator up to see you. I did & you were very scared. You would let me pet you for a while, and then you'd bite at me. I know you did not understand why you were taken away from your friend Sweetness & the comfort you were getting used to with us, but you were very, very sick & we needed to help you. Only to be poked & prodded all over again, but with no end in sight.
Friday night came & I had to work. At about 6:30 p.m., I got the 911 page to call Pat. I had no idea what to expect, but I refused to even think it had anything to do with you. I was in denial, but I carefully called the number in my pager. I can still hear the spine-tingling words "its Jay-Jay.... he died". I was stunned & couldn't say anything.
I wanted to come to see you right away, but everyone left the vet's clinic. Pat & Andy came by to cheer me up, but it was useless. They were as frustrated as I was upset. I called on Saturday morning to ask if I could come see you. It was Jan on the phone; she paused before answering not knowing if I knew. She broke her silence & said, "Have you talked to the doctor?" I said yes, I knew what had happened, I pressed on, still wanting, no needing, to see you before you begin your journey to the rainbow bridge. She went & asked & told me it would be okay.
When I arrived, they called Deborah to come get me. I told her why I was there and she stammered a bit, then agreed. She brought me back to the same cold, distant isolation room where I last saw you. The incubator was still there, but it looked different, you were gone & it was cleaned. Your perch, dishes, & feeding syringe were all dutifully placed in the sink, mere remnants of what took place the day before. Deborah walked in; she was carrying you all wrapped up in a towel. She carefully placed you on the stainless steel counter before me. As she turned to walk out, she looked back to say, "I'll give you a few moments, Dr. Roeloffs is here and I will send her in to see you."
I looked at you long & hard trying to fight back the tears. It was useless, I let go & they flowed as if someone turned on a faucet. I wanted you back, to be better, & to give me those same loving kisses you used to. I have seen death dozens of times. I knew what to expect & all the signs were there. It crushed me to see you this way, but I wanted to wish you well on your journey. I wanted to tell you that all of us will be together again some day & not to worry about Sweetness, I would care for her as best I could, for you dear Jay-Jay. I will end here, no need to go on. You are at rest & we all miss you terribly. Don't be afraid anymore Jay-Jay, you will feel better now.
Rich & everyone here at the Refuge