For those of you who have not already heard, we have sad news to share with you. On Monday, July 23, 2007 we made the very painful decision to euthanize Gimme, our pet lovebird of almost 17 years.
Other than some subtle signs of aging, Gimme had been living a seemingly healthy life up until last Friday. When Jim arrived home from work he noticed that something was "off" with Gimme and that he wasn't walking normally. He seemed weak on one side. Gimme spent most of the weekend at Animal 911 in Skokie and was dependent on oxygen from Saturday night on. He was too unstable for any tests so there were a lot of unknowns. Lovebirds usually live 12 to 15 years and Gimme was almost 17, so we definitely knew we might have to let him go. We braced ourselves and visited him twice a day. During the last Sunday visit, I kept smelling his feathers as he sat on my shoulder and crying at the thought of how much I would miss his smell.
Finally on Monday afternoon the vet did an X-ray and found a tumor in Gimme's lungs, which was making it difficult for him to breathe. Most likely, it was pushing up against Gimme's spine and causing the balancing problems the poor guy was having. The vet suspected that there was cancer in other areas of his body as well. He was still dependent on the oxygen being pumped into the glass case where they kept him and it was only going to get worse, so the humane thing to do was to put Gimme to sleep.
Jim and I arrived at the animal hospital at 4:45 p.m. The vet showed me Gimme's x-ray. After showing me the tumor, she pointed out many other body parts, giving me my one and only chance to see Gimme's internal body parts and bones that I had wondered about so many times.
When they brought Gimme in, he got very excited to see us and tapped the glass with his beak. Except for the slight limp, he seemed his normal happy self. I got out a photo of Jim's now-deceased parents and told Gimme that they were waiting for him. "Grandpa Val's got a lot of surface area for you to land on," I told Gimme. We fed him millet, which he devoured. He chewed the cover of my "Little Prince" book to make his last "ticker tapes." I cuddled with him, scratched him in his favorite places, and kissed him square on the beak many times. (I was advised NOT to do that some time in the 90's to prevent any illnesses from being passed on to him.) He even bit Jim and pooped on him, which was par for the course. But Gimme also let Jim scratch him. Gimme would often perch on Jim's hands under the water faucet and take impromptu baths, and Jim thanked him for little gifts like that. I read Gimme a letter that thanked him for teaching us "how simple a profound act of love can be" and ended with "your spirit will always be sitting right here on my shoulder."
After about 30 minutes, the doctor gave Gimme a little shot of vallium. It seemed painless. And then Gimme fell asleep in my hands as I pet him and we said goodbye. The vet took him into the next room to end his life. She brought Gimme back and we were able to say goodbye a final time. Our hearts were broken, and so full of love for Gimme. It is still very hard to believe he really is gone.
Max drew a picture of Gimme on Tuesday, which I have attached.
January 19, 1991 – We are so grateful for his long and happy life, which included the following highlights:
Gimme was purchased from a Michigan pet store. Joe and Shelly Trumpey drove me around the state looking for the perfect hand-fed baby lovebirds. In an act of fate, the first lovebird I chose from the cage flew onto the floor and was stepped on by a pet store patron. An employee took that bird away to care for it and I was asked to choose a different bird who of course turned out to be Gimme.
It took several months of taming to get Gimme to allow me to scratch his head and hold him in my hand.. In the very beginning Gimme slept on my neck, under my hair, at night (then I heard a horror story and stopped). He nibbled my chin in the morning to wake me up.
Eventually, Gimme chose to sleep hanging upright inside a towel. I have never heard of another lovebird who does that.
Once at a bird club meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we were watching a woman's lovebirds perform tricks. Gimme got so excited he flew to the front of the room and tried to join them. I call that the day he tried to run away from home and join the circus.
Gimme has lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Cincinnati, Ohio; Waukegan, Illinois; and of course Evanston, Illinois.
Many have been charmed by Gimme's sweetness over the years. I was told once that only 1 in 10 lovebirds are as tame as him. When out of the cage, Gimme usually preferred to play in the bathroom. I have not kept toiletries in my medicine cabinet for many many years.
Once Max was born, Gimme abandoned the bathroom and the kitchen became his new favorite room. We have enjoyed this change these past few years, as he has spent more time with us. To show affection, Gimme nibbled gently on your ear, lowered his head to your finger to be scratched or made a clicking "content" sound while perched on your shoulder.
In addition to being grateful for these things, we breathed a big sigh of relief when we realized all the things we DIDN'T do:
We didn't flush him down the toilet
We didn't lose him out an open door or window or when paying tolls on the highway
He was never attacked or eaten by a cat or other animal
He never flew into a moving ceiling fan
See pictures of Gimme throughout his lifetime, including our last visit.
We are so grateful for all of your prayers and well wishes and feel so very blessed - not only to have lived life with Gimme for so long, but also to have shared him with all of you.
Claudia, Jim, Max and Maya