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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I was debating whether to post in "Sick and Injured" or here in "Stories" and decided on the latter, since the crisis is past. The story is so amazing that I want to share it with others who love our feathered friends as much as I do. It's long, so please bear with me.

By way of background, Luke (officially "Lucy" since she turned out to be a hen but still called Luke because that's the name she reponds to) is a Nun pigeon I raised in 2005. We have over 90 pigeons, some rescues, many show birds. We show, but not very seriously since they are primarily pets.

I first bonded with Luke when she was six months old and became seriously, mysteriously ill. No symptoms other than weight loss, but her white cell count was sky high and it took three different antibiotics before my vet and I got the infection under control. She was only in the house recovering for a few weeks but she became very tame. I've had other tame hens that lived in the house for various periods of time, but they always forgot me when they went to the loft and had mates and babies. Not Luke. Through mates and babies she remained friendly, would respond happily with coos and circles when I greeted her and she would fly to me when I called her name.

Fast forward to the last weekend in March, 2009 when I noticed Luke had the "lobster-tail" stance that denotes abdominal pain. At first I thought she was simply preparing to lay, but no egg appeared. When I picked her up I discovered she was quite thin, so I took her to the vet first thing on Monday. An x-ray revealed the problem--a large egg, stuck high up. Dr. K gave her a calcium shot and instructed me to keep her on heat. He also started her on antibiotics (cefa). I set her up at home in a carrier on a heating pad. Two days passed and still no egg, so I took her back on Wednesday as Dr. K had instructed. He gave her another calcium shot and we discussed our options.

He explained to me that the only chance to save Luke was a risky and delicate surgery to remove the egg. If we did not remove the egg, she might survive for awhile, but it would eventually kill her. But the surgery, he explained, had only a 15% survival rate. I was stunned. She's my very favorite pigeon. But did it make any sense to risk a traumatic (and expensive!) surgery with so little hope of success? After lots of prayer, discussions with the vet, my husband, and a conversation between Steve and the vet, we made the difficult decision to go forward with the surgery, which took place last Thursday, April 2nd.

I prayed all morning that God would guide Dr. K's hands. I just did not want to lose Luke. My prayers were wonderfully answered. She came through the surgery and I was able to pick her up that same afternoon. The surgery was even more complicated than we anticipated because it turned out the egg was thin-shelled and had broken inside her. The surgery took an hour and a half. Dr. K had to painstakingly pull out pieces of shell and remove nasty-looking old yolk with syringes. He showed me what he pulled out of her and it was ghastly. It's hard to believe all that rotten material was inside her and she was still alive and alert.

Amazingly, by that evening Luke was fully awake and reponded to me by cooing, bowing her head and twitching her wings. She even attempted to peck at seeds. The next day she started eating again and pooping, and I can tell you I have never been as happy to see pigeon poop as I was that day! That was the key sign of her recovery. Up to that point we did not know for certain that her digestive system was undamaged, though Dr. K did his best and felt the surgery had gone well.

Luke is recovering in the house and is becoming spoiled. She's still on pain meds (last day) and antibiotics. Since she's used to living in the loft where she has lots of space, she's not happy being confined, so I've been letting her roam around the kitchen floor. At first she stayed there but then she decided the living room carpet was more comfortable on her little feet. I'm going through lots of baby wipes cleaning up after her.

On Sunday I was reading a book on the couch when she walked into the living room, around the coffee table and then flew up to my lap. She preened herself for awhile, then moved up to my shoulder where she sat and preened herself more thoroughly and stared right into my eyes. As I met her lovely pearl eyes I felt as though she was saying "thank you." And I didn't mind the feather scurf at all. I'm just so happy to have her here. :D

-Cathy
 

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This is the way I like stories to end too...happily.
 

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What a wonderful outcome - it gives hope to us all! Your love and your vet's amazing skill are awsome. Thanks for sharing your story. (I love the pic of her - she seems so 'at home' looking proprietorially out of the window!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for all the kind comments--I thought you guys would enjoy her story. ;) I'm blessed with a really awesome avian vet. It helps that pigeons are so resilient, even little cream-puff Nuns.
 

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Hi!

Luke is such a beautiful hen! What an ordeal and heartwarming story!!

Thanks so much for posting, Cathy!

What did your Vet say about future eggs? Hopefully, this situation will not happen again! KUDOS to your Vet for a job well done!!

Sending loving healing thoughts, hugs and scritches

Shi/Squeaks/Dom/Gimie/WoeBeGone :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi!

Luke is such a beautiful hen! What an ordeal and heartwarming story!!

Thanks so much for posting, Cathy!

What did your Vet say about future eggs? Hopefully, this situation will not happen again! KUDOS to your Vet for a job well done!!

Sending loving healing thoughts, hugs and scritches

Shi/Squeaks/Dom/Gimie/WoeBeGone :)
Good question, Shi. Unfortunately she will probably continue to lay eggs. We all, including my vet, wish he could have performed a hysterectomy on her, but he did not believe she would survive the more extensive surgery. He has explained to me before when dealing with problem hens that it's a difficult operation with a high risk of future complications.

The good news is that being a Nun she's not a prolific layer. She only lays eggs during the warm months; not at all in the winter. She has never laid more than one egg per clutch. She doesn't currently have a mate and I'm seriously considering finding a way to keep her in the house. That doesn't mean she won't ever lay again of course, but it should slow her down for awhile. I'm also going to give her extra calcium and vitamin D the next time it appears she will lay. I want to monitor her closely, which I can't do if she's in the loft. I'm out there several times a day cleaning and feeding, but it's not the same.
 

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Hi Cathy,

Sending positive loving healing thoughts for future eggs with no problems!

In the last AZPigeonClub Newsletter, Jamie Tufanio of Funky Feathers Loft, posted some "natural products" information. Among them was this about Grit:

Add 4-5 TBSP of Sea Salt w/Iodine to to 5 lbs of Grit. She says pijies need saline - most notably during breeding. Although Luke won't have a pij mate, this may help when she lays another egg. She made the comment, "have you ever noticed that pigeons will scatter grit? Might be because they are looking for salt."

Even tho Gimie lays fine eggs, I'm going to give this a shot.

Love, Hugs and Scritches

Shi/Squeaks/Dom/Gimie/Woe :)
 

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Cathy, I expect all of us who read Luke's story did so with moist eyes. I know mine were. I'm so thankful she survived the surgery but I am not surprised if your vet is the same one you have gone to for so long. I won't ever forget the kindness of your vet when Romeo was sick. He must have an angel sitting on his shoulder.

Luke is so beautiful and, to me, there would be no question about making her a permanent indoor pet. I'm adding her to my prayer list for continued healing.

Thank you so much for this lovely story. I'm almost glad I didn't know about it while it was going on.
 

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That is a wonderful story with happy ending.
Luke is a gorgeous bird with the sweetest face.
I would keep her inside and enjoy your time with her, I am sure she will.

Reti
 

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What a sweet and fortunate hen! Didn't know nuns tend to not lay year 'round. She is so gorgeous!

...pijies need saline - most notably during breeding...
Some of the mineral pickpots contain mineral salts, so I guess that's why the birds go for it. I offer that along with red grit, oyster shell, tan pick stone, plus a red mineral powder so the birds can choose what they need.
 

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HAPPY....happy......HAPPYYYYYY!!!:D YIPIE!!! My many wishes for her... She is just beautiful! Maybe she needs some custom pijie pants and reclassified to an Honorably discharged Indoor pijie..:rolleyes:.. She is just very sweet... Congrats on her recovery!!!:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Cathy, I expect all of us who read Luke's story did so with moist eyes. I know mine were. I'm so thankful she survived the surgery but I am not surprised if your vet is the same one you have gone to for so long. I won't ever forget the kindness of your vet when Romeo was sick. He must have an angel sitting on his shoulder.

Luke is so beautiful and, to me, there would be no question about making her a permanent indoor pet. I'm adding her to my prayer list for continued healing.

Thank you so much for this lovely story. I'm almost glad I didn't know about it while it was going on.
Yep--same vet. We refer people to him all the time. :) I think very highly of him.

I really want to keep Luke in the house, but I have to convince Steve to build her a cage of some type for those times when I can't supervise her. I can't let her wander the floor all the time; it's dangerous. She could be stepped on or get out accidentally. The challenge is finding the right spot for a cage. We have six cages in the house already (non-pigeon birds), so it's more challenging than it seems. But I always seem to find a way to squeeze in one more. ;)

Shi, good idea about the salt. A little must be necessary. I've used various pickpots and minerals in addition to grit. Did have a bad experience once with "wet nest," when it turned out the parents were going nuts on the salt in their pink minerals, which made them thirsty, which led to wet nest. But adding a little salt to the grit sounds reasonable.

I'm still hoping that if I keep Luke inside she won't lay. Her mom is unpaired right now as well, because I currently have more hens than cocks. Guinevere (Luke's mom) doesn't lay unless I pair her with a cock in a separate breeding pen.
 

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I'm so glad to hear Luke had a miracle recovery. Your vet truly must be an angel. How wonderful she is okay. :D
 
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