Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Little Lesson About Dying

Before 9am there was a knock on the cottage door.
It was a lady who had taken part in my first " Chicken Care For Beginners" course a few years ago and she had a problem.
Her daughter's favourite hen, a plump lace Orpington called Tilly, had collapsed. The woman knew it was dying but wanted a second opinion. The bird was wrapped in a child's scarf on her daughter's knee in the back of the car. The daughter looked around seven and was watery eyed.
Her name was Kate
I brought them all into the house and locked the dogs in the front room while I checked the bird over.
Kate chatted away about the hen, telling me all about her, how cheeky she was, how she followed the family dog into the house and the like and when she had finished I asked her how ill she thought the hen was.
" I think she's very ill" she said seriously
" I think you're right " I told her trying to weigh up all of the options open to us.
I could cull the hen for them, but the act didn't quite seem appropriate somehow...especially when faced by a tearful little girl who had wrapped her dear hen in her own scarf. A trip to the vets seemed a bit of an overkill given the fact the hen was more or less dead..and so I plumped for the easiest option.
" I don't think she's in pain, so what I suggest is that you keep her wrapped up and very warm and quiet, and let her die peacefully at home... It won't be very long" I told her
Kate stroked the hen' s head and nodded a watery nod and a minute later they were back in the car and ready for home.
Her mother winked at me before she drove off...and mouthed in way of explanation of the visit " I couldn't face being the bad guy today" and I nodded that I understood.
Being a parent must be a bleeding hard job sometimes
Thank f"*# I only have to be responsible for animals....
You don't have to explain the death question to them
Hey ho

64 comments:

  1. How kind and wise you are. That little girl will have learned a lot about life, and death, today.

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    1. I think 'twas the mother who was wise

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  2. What a wonderful life that bird must have had with all that love surrounding it....good job John.

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  3. You handled that beautifully John.

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  4. Nice work. Pity such an option is rarely given to people.

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  5. Brave little girl.

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  6. Oh John you are lovely.

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    1. I second that libby.

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    2. I third it and actually think I may have a bit of a crush ;)

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  7. You handled it perfectly my friend. Great job.

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  8. Well played my friend.....You would make a great parent.

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  9. Very nicely handled. I think sometimes that's the way to deal with it for grown-ups too.

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  10. When I had a wildlife centre the hardest part was telling small children cradling sparrows that the bird was dying.
    Jane x

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  11. You've got a gift with animals... and children.

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  12. You are amazing, John. It's obvious that you have a gift with animals, but now we see that you know how to handle children too, Bless you for that.

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  13. Beautiful John....that little girl will never forget your honesty and kindness. I agree that parenting must be heartbreaking at times. I, too, am grateful to only have furkids at times like these.

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  14. You handled that beautifully.

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  15. John, your mom and dad did a very good job.

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  16. How sweet John. That mother appreciates your kindness more than you will know. I've been there.

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  17. That was a terrific piece of parenting, even if the little girl wasn't your daughter...

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  18. Death? That's the least of it. Try explaining life!

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    1. Thank fuck I don't have kids
      I would just not know where to start

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  19. What can I say that hasn't been said already. We all need a gentle hand sometimes to show us the way. You handled that beautifully.
    I am dealing with the coming death of a beloved gud dug and all you can do is keep them safe and warm.

    cheers, parsnip

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  20. Well done John

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  21. The passing of well loved animals is so bloody painful.

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  22. you handled that so well!

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  23. "Where there is live stock there is dead stock. "

    That's an old country saying John.

    I always feel bad when I send my farm animals to the butcher. Yet I know we have tried to give them a good life. You are a very caring person in a very cruel world. Nature is beautiful but yet so cruel.

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  24. You were such a kind man.. This little girl will always think kind thoughts of you... Job Well Done~!
    Have a Tiggeriffic Day~! ta ta for now from Iowa:)

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  25. "it takes a village to raise a child"
    xoxox

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  26. First, it was pretty telling that the mother knew to come to you.
    Second, you confirmed her belief when you spoke to the little girl with not just compassion, but honesty. Not something kids get often enough.

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  27. You made something very difficult just a little easier for both child and mother. And probably for the hen, too.

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  28. I'm glad the mum thought to bring daughter & hen to you but not raising her hopes - just to see a kind soul to help her say goodbye bravely.

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  29. Wrapped in a scarf in your own home is the best way to go, I think.

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  30. Hard lessons to learn. xxxxxx

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  31. Well done. Being a parent is difficult, but so rewarding.

    Love,
    Janie

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  32. Thank you for letting her down gently.
    You are a kind and caring soul.
    Hugs,
    ~Jo

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  33. You are an amazing man, John. Well done.

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  34. You did just the right stuff and are a lovely, very caring person.


    I have had several hens who just slowly wind down and then die - they are not ill, not in pain, just old ! And have reached the end of their life.

    And they get a quiet, warm, caring place to quietly die - why stress them out (and me!) by wringing their necks when it is obvious they will just slip away in an hour or so, without pain? (obviously I WOULD end it for them if they were in pain)

    You really helped that little girl ( and her Mum) to understand that Death is a fact of Life.

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  35. Everyone else has already put in words what I think... you are a very kind person....

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  36. I agree with everyone one, and i think what struck me most is that you gave Kate a chance to talk all about Tilly and then you asked her how ill she thought she was. Allowing her to talk of her exploits and then acknowledge that she was quite ill helped, i think, with the sad conclusion that the tide was ebbing for Tilly.

    To be wrapped up, warm, quiet, and surrounded by love as we cross the bar sounds like a very nice way to go.

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  37. Thanks for the comments but the moral of the story was less about me and more about the perils of parenthood

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  38. The death of the pet hen will be a memory that little Kate will take with her through life - a significant staging post in her growth from childhood. It is good that you have helped to prepare her for what is about to happen.

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  40. Wonderful post, John. A little piece of vomit actually came up in my throat.

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    1. Oh, and BTW - you are SUCH a wonderful person.

      KILL THE CHICKEN, KILL THE CHICKEN, KILL THE CHICKEN...

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    2. I didn't tell you the child was blind

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    3. And in a wheelchair

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  41. On my daughter's first day at middle school, her very old, sick hamster died. Her very evil older brother tenderly buried it. they both have grown up. Thanks be to God.

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  42. You are a caring human being with your work, your animals and now children.

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  43. You did just the right thing. As you say, it must be tough sometimes being a parent and having to break news like that to a very sensitive and caring child.

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  44. I wish you were my neighbor

    David

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    1. If I was playing the walking dead full blast you'd change your mind

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  45. Bless your big kind heart.

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  46. we have had a right menagerie here and a large number of deaths to deal with, i always find the kids find their way if there is some ceremony involved with the disposal.
    the hardest one was a rabbit who was particularly fond of and equally loved by my oldest boy who was about nine at the time. bunny went out for a walk one day and never came back. i knew my boy took it hard but he didnt say much and life moved on. several years later a casual mention of the rabbit saw liam break into huge sobs. it still breaks my heart to think of.

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  47. Nicely handled, you big softie! It's tough when a beloved pet dies, especially for a kid.

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  48. Hi John - you dear kind man, you! You are such a darling - the world is a far better place for having you in it x

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