Today my dear feathered friend Jasmine (aka Jazz, Jazzy, Jazzyroo, Jazzy-Rooster-Roo, etc) was euthanized to end her suffering.
Jazzy belonged to my best friend Dweezeljazz, and Dweezeljazz has written about Jazzy’s struggles in various blog posts – this one the most recent.
Why did Dweezeljazz and her husband have to get to this most drastic of solutions? Simple: Jazzy was done in by modern chemical combinations that made her skin so itchy that she began plucking feathers and eventually mutilating her skin. This was no behavioral or emotional situation that is often blamed for feather picking. No. Rather, it was like one of us having a constant case of severe hives with no relief in sight.
The sad thing is that even a recent move to a better location in a lovely newish apartment didn’t solve the problem. Well-meaning neighbors cannot be asked to stop using products – perfumes, highly toxic cleaners, fabric softeners, and highly-scented laundry detergent. And these fumes always have a way of entering into one’s home, despite heroic efforts to keep them out. (I’ve always been amazed by how much more potent and pervasive the use of such chemicals/product is in Europe, compared to the US.)
Jasmine had perhaps an unusually high degree of sensitivity to these chemicals. She spent 6 months in a garden/home center, host to everything from pesticides to scented candles and the scented fumes from well-meaning admirers. She’d already been scratching the feathers off her neck when Dweezeljazz rescued her. And for the next 1 1/2 years she had her new home, it was a constant battle to improve her air quality. But I wonder how many other parrots suffer a similar fate and end up irritable and bitey and plucking, which people may attribute to other factors? These unfortunate parrots often get moved to rescue places and successive homes that often don’t work out.
But enough of that for now. Time to celebrate Jazzy.
One of the hallmarks, for me, of Jazz’s personality was her unbelievable capacity for love and affection. She got it back in bucket-loads from Dweezeljazz and her husband. During the agonizing time we discussed if she should be euthanized, I’ve never experienced such grief and sorrow, thinking that I would never be able to see her again, to hear her call out my name when Dweezeljazz and I spoke on the phone each morning, and to know how huge a hole it would leave in the lives of her caretakers. Their lives have revolved around Jazz for a short but rich time.
Dweezeljazz and her husband would take Jazzy everywhere they could, if the weather was good enough and not freezing. (And even in very cold weather, they’d just wrap a down jacket around her portable carrier and off she’d happily go.)
She would be transported in her Wingabago or her backpack, and LOVED everything new: Loved to socialize with anyone and be admired, loved to go on walks and comment on the birds outside, wolf-whistle anyone passing by (much to the embarrassment of Dweezeljazz), loved to try out hawk imitations on the enormous Clydesdale horse she met, and loved to eat her snacks en route to interesting places. Dweezlejazz spent hours with Jazz in the countryside to escape the apartment fumes. Those became very special times of bonding and loving her even more.
Jazzy had an amazing vocabulary and would often express her wants and needs very clearly. In the last few months, about the only thing that really soothed her skin were warm showers. She asked for them frequently and would revel in the silky relief it gave.
Her comic timing was legendary, her intelligence keen and perceptive in the extreme. Her life was full, happy, and lively, with potential for many years of fulfillment in a family that loved her dearly.
But too soon it ended and her quality of life slowed to a halt. Her distress and pain was more than any of us could bear to watch. We had to let her go.
And so, little Jazzy, we love you and never will forget you. You have given us tremendous gifts of love and understanding, and glimpses into a feathered world that is magical and full of wonders. I hope one day that this world will be safe enough for you and your kind – and so many other joyful beings that wing through the air – to flourish free in your own habitat that is preserved just to cherish such precious beings like you.