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Dealing With the Loss of a Pet

Written by Karine, TaffyWduck

Let's face it, a pet is always more than just a pet, and that's putting it mildly. Where people understand the drama caused by the passing of bigger animals, such as a dog or a cat, few of them will understand the extent of the pain caused by your bird's death. This is mostly due to the very popular misconception that birds are easily replaceable "cheap" pets, which all bird lovers are trying to eradicate.

Unless you are surrounded by people who share your love for birds, this will probably be frustrating until your family and friends finally understand what your bird meant to you. The first thing you must realize is that you are not alone, others have been through this before you and others will be facing it too... it's the circle of life. It will be a much easier time for you if you seek the presence of people who understand you, feel free to talk to you fellow bird lover friends, should they be physically in your life or virtually, via the Internet, even your avian vet might be able to direct you to a specialist or provide you with books/articles on the matter. Tragedies happen, but no one should ever be left to face them alone.

Most people who have never had a bird can't understand the extent of the love an owner has for his bird. Those of us who had the pleasure to be introduced to the world of bird ownership, know that these little creatures have a way to melt your heart and to make you feel loved. Once a bird trusts you, you can say that you have found a being that will love you and depend on you for the rest of its life. Caring for a bird isn't only caring for a pet, it's caring for an animal that depends totally on you to survive and to be loved, the importance of this fact plays a major role in the grief that follows the passing of a pet bird. That's mostly why, when someone's bird passes, the owner will be eager to find the support and sympathy of other bird owners, since they are more likely to understand his pain.

Another very important thing is to remember the departed friend. It might be painful at first, but it is healthier than repressing your memories. Why not create a memorial to help you remember all the good times you two shared? Gather his favorite toys, treats and all the pictures you have of him, keep them together in an album or a box, as the time pass, it will help you remember what an incredible little creature is was and how lucky you were to have the opportunity to share your life with him. Most people will tell you that it's easier to forget and leave it all behind rather than making a big "fuss" about it, but frankly, why would you want to loose this precious friend once more by letting your memories of him slip away from you? A bird that has given you unconditional love, who trusted you isn't easily replaceable and the same thing goes for these memories.

Not everyone deals with the loss the same way, some think that they will never be able to have a bird again, for it would be painful to get attached, while others feel the immediate urge to run to the closest pet store and get a new friend... this is, in my opinion, a mistake. While it is totally comprehensible that you might not want another bird right away, you shouldn't rule that option out for the future, who knows? One day you probably will feel ready to open your heart again to a new friend.

Don't run to the first pet store/breeder/rescue and adopt another bird right away either. Take some time for yourself first and ponder the possibility of welcoming a new feathery friend in your life, you might find that you aren't as ready as you thought. No bird will replace the one you lost, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have another one, only you have to be sure that it is indeed the right time and that you like the new bird for himself and not because you subconsciously hope that he turns into your beloved lost baby. The right moment will come, when you will feel ready to adopt once more and love a new bird as much as you love the departed one, but not to take its place in your heart, but cuddle in one of his own.

I am ready

When you have decided that it is the right time for you to adopt a new bird there are a few things you will have to do before you go out to find the ideal bird again. First you will want to consider whether or not you want to use your "old" cage again. Depending on what your previous bird died of, there are a few precautions you should take:

  • Disinfect the cage using a mixture of bleach and water.
  • Be sure to rinse it thoroughly and wait at least a week or two before putting a bird in there.
  • All plastic/acrylic toys and accessories can be disinfect the same way (IF you choose to reuse these of course).
  • All wooden/rope/sisal/rawhide toys and accessories should be thrown out, there is no risk worth taking.
  • All foods/treat that your previous bird had touched or had access too should be thrown out.
  • Be sure to do some major research before you acquire a new bird (should it be of the same specie as the previous one or of another one)

Remember that a new pet will never replace the one who passed, but will be a new friend for you to love and take care of.

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