This post has nothing to do with running other than it is the reason I didn’t run the Winchester Hills today. I didn’t end up going to work today because I spent all morning at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston with my parakeet.  She’s been a part of my life now for 10 1/2 years, and in my life, my animals are my kids.  Parakeets normally live for only about 4-6 years so everyone there was pretty amazed with her.  By the way, that hospital deserves its reputation. They really are top notch, and around here, they seem to be the only animal hospital with vets trained to work with “exotic” animals.

I should give you a little history about this miracle that passed through my life.  I’ve had many parakeets over the years, always having them in pairs.  One would always die before another, and I’d get another companion only to go through the cycle over and over.  About 8 years ago or so, Freddie Mac’s partner died, and I thought to myself, that’s it, I’m just sticking with Freddie and when she’s gone, that’s it for me and birds.  

We first noticed something was wrong with Freddie this morning. Bill said he remembers her flying around the room last night after we got home from our dinner out with Lis and Steve. This morning when I fed Chloe, Freddie didn’t fly out as she usually does, chirping the whole time.  I went over to her cage to feed her and noticed her back right claw was not on her perch, and it seemed to be bent in an awkward angle. The vet thought at first it was a kidney tumor that was leaning on her leg’s nerve, and after they took x-rays, they found two fractures. One fracture was on her leg, and then they noticed another fracture in her left shoulder. They said that they could put a splint on her leg but at her age, they didn’t think that her chances for recovery would be very good. The intern that was helping me kept calling her “our little old lady.”  They thought that because of the two fractures, she either had originally had a tumor in one of her reproductive organs that had metastisized to her bones, or she had bone cancer.  They recommended that I put her to sleep as they thought she probably was not feeling pretty good.  

Freddie got her name because it’s short for Frederique.  When I first got her she was only about 6 weeks old or so.   With parakeets, you really can’t tell what sex they are for the first 6 months, so I thought, ok “Freddie” works – if she turns out to be a guy, her name is Fred, and if she turns out to be a girl after all, it’ll be Frederique, formally. (I had learned my lesson with my first pair of birds who were named Harry and Sally, just like the movie of the same name, and Sally turned out to be “Salvatore.”)

People may think of parakeets as being different from cats, and they are to a point. However, they have personalities too, and Freddie’s was very pronounced the last few years.  She flew out of her cage on a daily basis (and especially when I was feeding Chloe, it was as if she was saying “me too! me too! don’t forget about me!”)  While people were over (and even if it was just Bill and I) she would fly out of her cage pretty often and land on our heads.  (That took some getting used to for Bill, but after a while it didn’t bother him at all.)  She would sometimes land on the back of Bill’s favorite recliner and hang out and watch TV with him.  By the way, if a parakeet ever lands on your shoulder (like you’re a pirate) and then chirps, be prepared, as their chirps are much louder up that close. And shrill sounding. But if they are your kid you don’t mind.

She might land on his TV tray while was eating his breakfast and hang out, trying to get a crumb off of his plate.  He told me that one time, she was sitting on the TV tray, then she jumped up and perched on the edge of his cereal bowl (luckily he was done at this point), and he looked at her and said “Don’t you dare!” and she looked back at him, and then dunked her head right into his cereal, like she thought it was a bird bath.  So, yes, at times she could be just like a little 2-year old kid testing its parents boundaries.

Freddie was also the only living creature that lived in our house that could tease our mainecoon, Chloe, and get away with it (Chloe is, you have to understand, the pet that rules the roost around here.)  Sometimes Freddie would walk out on the open ledge of her cage and dangle upside down, or fly over Chloe’s head, close by, but just out of reach.  We swear she was doing it just to tease Chloe, who just didn’t have the energy to reach or catch her, after her one attempt years ago.  That’s a story for a different day…

When my cat Clara died two years ago, I ordered her headstone from America’s Pet Monuments online, and the quality was very good, and it came as promised, time-wise and quality. I highly recommend them if you happen to be in the unfortunate way of needing their services. For right now, I have flowers marking where Freddie is buried in our back yard, right near our little Clara. (Clara was at least 12 years old when she died, we think of bone cancer also.) She was a stray, declawed and nearly dead when she found me, and never stopped thanking me for the rest of her life.

I’ve put some pictures of Freddie below. In one of them, she is perched on top of my laptop (aka the “blogomatic” as Bill calls it) and in one of the others she is sitting on Bill’s hand as he sits in his favorite recliner.  The house is pretty quiet tonight. Chloe seems to sense that something is different. When I took a nap this afternoon, which is really unlike me, she slept right next to me and has been pretty much by my side except for when I went on my run tonight.

Animals are just such wonderful creatures, and I could not imagine my life without them in it.  Thanks for reading this – I know it’s long but I wanted to share some of my good memories with Freddie. Over 10 years you can build up a lot of them.