Farewell, Charlie.

I know I said I would update my blog at least every other day – and I’ve already been failing to do this, I’m afraid. But I have good reason… If you could call it ‘good.’

I’m heartbroken to write that our Charlie died two mornings ago.

The night before was no different from any other; Charlie flew into his swing to sleep as usual. He’d spent the day as he liked to, flying around, chirping happily, and irritating Mishka by leading her on a merry chase. The canaries’ cages were placed end-to-end, so that they could see each other while covered; in the morning, I began to uncover Pip’s half first – as always. She was sitting in a low crouch, looking uneasy. I began to uncover Charlie’s cage. He wasn’t in his swing, on a perch, or in his food dishes.

He was sprawled, wings out, on his cage floor… fortunately not in any poop, but (less fortunately) unmoving.

I must have stared in shock for a minute or two before going to get O., who had the presence of mind to verify that Charlie was, indeed, no longer breathing.

I was off that day, and so was O. I’m glad. I was devastated. Losing a pet is never an easy thing, but to have it happen so unexpectedly… The other birds were shocked, too. Pip is still depressed – when we removed Charlie and his cage (I couldn’t stand seeing it there, empty) she became completely still, peeping occasionally and hiding in the covered half of her cage. Later, we brought Mishka in. She wasted no time in going to where we kept the canaries’ cages. She looked into Pip’s, retraced her steps to the edge of the table, and flew to where his empty cage was resting on the floor. There she began a strange, repetitive keening noise that I’ve never heard her make before. Ptak himself has a heartrending habit of imitating Charlie’s chirps.

It is very difficult to write this. It’s even harder to see this blog, filled with stories and pictures. I suppose that’s another reason why I keep it. The memories.

You might think to yourself that Charlie was ‘only’ a canary – but he was a member of our family. He was the bird who flew around our heads, chirping with joy, and pecked my fingers gently as I put his morning seed into his bowl. His two favourite things in the world were bathing and flying. He was not a pet for cuddling (or touching), but he was loved.

I have the other birds, of course, and I’m glad. There’s also a dead bird in my freezer… I’m not sure what to do with him. I flatly refuse to put him in the bins. I don’t care if it’s a silly, human attachment. I won’t. I’m thinking perhaps we will burry him in the front garden.

He wasn’t old, Charlie, but we spoiled him and gave him a good life – however short. He and Pip were one bird, really, in spite of the fact that they have/had unique personalities (and separate cages). We actually called them ‘Charlie-Pip,’ referring to them as a unit. To think of only having one half of Charlie-Pip is inconceivable. We also called them fairies, because for whatever reason when I brought them home I couldn’t remember to say ‘canary.’ I told more than one person that we have fairies. You can imagine the looks I got. Eventually, the nickname stuck – O. would say, ‘Go clean the fairies’ cages,’ or ‘The fairies’ water needs changing.’

We still have one fairy, of course, and this means extra spoiling for her and being extra careful. To protect Pip and the others, I’m having samples of their poop sent off to the lab to be analysed. I can’t afford vet check-ups for all of them at the moment, so this will have to do. Hopefully whatever affected Charlie isn’t contagious.

In the meantime, I must try not to beat myself up too much about it – the usual feelings of ‘it’s somehow my fault’ (I know inside that I did everything I could to make their lives happy and healthy), and ‘if only I’d got up a little earlier,’ or even ‘if I had just made a vet appointment a few days ago’ (hindsight is 20/20 – how was I to know).

Rest in peace, cheeky Charlie.

Charlie-Pip the day we brought them home (in their travel cage). Charlie loved that mirror.

10 thoughts on “Farewell, Charlie.

    • Thank you – it’s never easy, is it? We had just lost one of our cats two months to the day, actually, so Charlie’s death hit pretty hard.

  1. I’m so sorry about little Charlie. No matter what people may say, it’s never easy to lose a pet. They do become members of your family and their loss is much felt.

  2. I would never say he was ‘only a canary’ – to me all lives are as precious and meaningful as each other (well, perhaps I wouldn’t include the likes of terrorists or other violent people). I’ve had very few pets but was really upset each time I lost one – as were my parents.

    But at least you have the comfort in knowing you provided a great life for Charlie – he was allowed out to fly around and you really cared for him. The family next door to me have pets – a dog, a rabbit and a guinea pig. The rabbit and guinea pig are caged in the garage and rarely see the light of day – someone just feeds and waters them as necessary. The dog, a very lively breed, is let out into the back yard a couple of times a day and otherwise ignored – he’s never taken for a walk.

    • I couldn’t agree more – I would say, having owned many animals, that they are not ‘intelligent’ like humans, but that they are sentient, emotive, and certainly understand what’s going on around them. To hear about animals who aren’t getting the love and attention they need (and deserve) makes me deeply sad, for the owners as much as the animals. We who have had pets know the joy they can give us. Thanks for commenting!

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