I think we all have at one time or another experienced the great pain of losing a beloved pet. The bond between an animal companion and man can be so deep, loving and understanding. Sometimes it’s hard to put into words how much we love our pets. What if that unfortunate passing of your pet had been a sudden and unexpected death at the hands of someone who was supposed to protect them? That was the case with Lupe, a very much-loved Jenday Conure. I got a message and email from her owner, Barbara telling me about her tragic story of losing Lupe.
Here’s my question…On Monday night, I took my 18-year-old female Jenday Conure to an Avian vet because she appeared egg-bound…after she gave her a calcium shot and tube fed her – she died…right there on the spot. To say I am in shock – is an understatement.
Barbara had found me on Etsy and really wanted to have Lupe Taxidermied. We ended up speaking on the phone that day. I could tell in moments Barbara was a nice woman and she even happened to be from Pennsylvania, where I grew up. She was clearly in pain and grieving Lupe’s loss, she found it difficult to speak about the situation without crying during our conversation. I tried my best to explain gently to her why I didn’t want to taxidermy Lupe. I couldn’t be sure what condition Lupe was in and I was afraid to disappoint Barbara if Lupe couldn’t be saved. Barbara understood and she decided instead to have her cremated and purchase something meaningful to keep her ashes in.
The very next day I got another email from Barbara really wanting me to try to Taxidermy Lupe, despite our previous discussion. It was a HUGE responsibility for me to work on someone’s deceased pet and my nerves were high. After hearing how distressed Barbara was, how could I not help her. We decided she would send Lupe to me and I would give it my best shot. We texted, emailed and spoke on the phone about Lupe and it was great to hear Barbara feel better knowing Lupe was hopefully going to be preserved and beautiful again soon.
The day Lupe was to arrive by UPS, I sat outside waiting for the brown truck to pull up. Barbara was texting me, anxious for me to successfully receive her. I was so relieved when Lupe finally arrived. I let Barbara know as soon as I grabbed her and took her upstairs to pop her in the safety of my freezer.
The next day I took Lupe out to assess her condition and start the first steps to Taxidermy her. She was the most beautiful bird I’ve ever worked on. Great news too, she was in excellent condition! I expected my hands to be shaking with the scalpel in them with this HUGE responsibility before me. I get one shot. That’s it, and someone’s REALLY counting on me. Deep breath.
I discovered some unusual finds while Taxiing Lupe. I’d never seen a birds crop so swollen full of food before. I was afraid Lupe’s skin might tear around the area because it was stretched super thin. The skin was ok though, thank goodness.
I was noticing also that Lupes bones were very delicate, more so than other birds I had experience Taxiing. Hmm.. When it came to her skull we had problems. I’d never seen anything like it before. Lupes entire skull was like a mushy grape.
What should be a tough thick skull was thin like paper and not holding form. Why? Did this have something to do with her death? Was this the result of the calcium shot from the vet? I cautiously continued and hoped I could salvage Lupe despite this.
I had the unique opportunity to remove her egg she was holding inside her abdomen cavity. That was one of the most amazing things I’d done in a while. Being intimate with another creature so close to see and understand its inner workings is beyond words. I was sad for the egg and Lupe yet amazed at the miracle of life and death.
I finished Taxiing Lupe and nervously sent Barbara the finished photos she had so patiently been waiting for. She loved how Lupe turned out and was the happiest I’d heard her since our meeting. It felt really good to have taken the chance and helped someone out who was grieving.
Kimberly – she is beyond what I expected…she truly looks so natural and you captured “her” pose. I seriously can’t stop crying….you have no idea how much this means to me….oxoxo
Thanks for your trust Barbara and may Lupe live on forever.
Lupe arrived via Express overnight mail VERY well packed.
A cooler within a cooler plus ice packs were all evidence of how much Lupe’s owner cared for her.
Much anticipated first look at Lupe’s condition.
Lupe’s crop appeared stretched to its limits full of gritty substance her feeding tube was delivering before her death. I’ve never seen a crop so full!
I carefully removed Lupe’s egg.
A first for me to Taxidermy an egg bound bird. I was fascinated by it.