Saying goodbye to Bessie

October 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

This afternoon we had Bessie put to sleep.

When we weighed them on the weekend, Bessie had lost 300 g in four weeks – given that she was neither moulting nor laying, that’s a huge amount. She’s been eating very little for the last few days, and spending most of her time standing with her head tucked under her wing. So this afternoon we took her in to Pauline, both feeling pretty certain that she wouldn’t be coming home again.

And we were right – not only had the tumour started to obstruct her breathing, it had also started to invade her tongue, so swallowing would have been extremely difficult for the poor old girl. And she was so light, so frail under her feathers. I don’t think she was in any distress, but her quality of life had definitely dwindled.

So we said our goodbyes and she was given a bit of anaesthetic gas to sedate her before Pauline injected the barbiturates to end her life. And she went so peacefully, I think she was ready to go. No spasms, no arching of her wings. I think she actually died before the injection – presumably her heart just gave out. She deserved a gentle end, and she had it.

It never gets any easier, saying goodbye. Making those decisions, and then watching them being carried out. We’re both quietly distraught, but it isn’t the tearing grief we felt for Frida, or even the shame we felt when Venus died. We had two months of knowing that Bessie was dying. Two months to give her time to sun, and scritch, and hunt wood lice and worms and centipedes. Time to snooze in the sun with Ella, and have a fence between her and anyone who might try to harass her. Those two months were a precious gift.

Beauty of Bath ApplesTomorrow we’ll bury her in the orchard under a new apple tree. We picked it out and bought it not long after her diagnosis – Beauty of Bath, which seems strangely appropriate for our Boo. It tends to be sold as a cider apple in New Zealand, but in the UK is revered as a really lovely eating apple, but one that has to ripen on the tree, and which doesn’t keep. Apparently aficionados carpet the ground under the tree with piles of straw, to protect the apples when they fall, fully ripe, from the tree.

Dear, sweet, ugly, wonderful Bessie Boo. We’ll miss you.

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