Wednesday, October 26, 2011



Ernst isn't tame at all, so he panics and flutters when I reach for him. Sshh, I tell him, it's going to be okay. Except it's not.

Ernst has been with me for 13 years, I bought him and and a friend for him soon after I moved to Hamburg. I always had budgies as a child and I missed the chatter. His partner died, I got him a new one - I've had a lot of budgies over the years, but Ernst was always there. He found a partner, a female called Susi, and lived happily with her for years. Susi died earlier this year and Ernst grew more quiet, he didn't try to bond with the new females I brought home from the shelter.

He'd had troubles with his heart for a long time. It couldn't be treated and the vet told me that he probably wouldn't last all that long. That was five years ago and I kept a close eye on him, but he was doing okay. A bit short of breath after flying, but that was to be expected. Last week Ernst couldn't fly any more, he'd drop to the floor and couldn't get airborne again. I knew then it was time.

I don't take the others, it's cold outside and I don't want to stress them out as well. I regret that when Ernst starts calling once we are on our way, loud contact calls. I wish I had brought at least one of the others along. Too late now.
The vet agrees with me that there is nothing more to be done. Ernst screams when he gets the first injection, but I know he's not in pain, it's just the usual protest scream when someone holds him. He falls asleep quickly and after the second injection, it's only seconds until his heart stops. I astonish myself by not crying and I talk a bit with the vet about budgies - my vet's amazing and I know my pets and me are in good hands.

At home, I show Ernst's body to the other budgies. They won't call for him now, but they would if I just took him and never brought him back. And then finally I sit down and cry for Ernst, who was my companion for much of my adult life.

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