Tuesday, 9 November 2010

An Indignity Too Far

After this mornings post I spent a few hours ruminating on the problem of Doris's spotty eye. Eventually, I decided I'd rather take her to the vet and be mugged for twenty quid while the vet looked vaguely puzzled than live with the uncertainty. At least then my conscience would be clear. As luck would have it, though, I managed to get an appointment with a thoroughly charming vet who had recently been on a poultry course. Result!

The hens have become wary of the cat carrier. All too often they have seen one of their flockmates packed in to it and returned to them some time later with a haunted look in their eyes. Or worse, not returned at all. Therefore, Doris did not greet the sight of the carrier with glee. In fact, as I attempted to gently lower her in to it, she spread her wings and essentially made herself a cat carrier hat. After some careful folding, I had the grumbling girl secured. The rest of the flock looked on solemnly with barely a murmur.

Doris behaved herself impeccably en route to the surgery. I placed the carrier on my lap in the passenger seat and she bopped her head away to a Nickelback song. Chickens have limited taste in music, I find. She looked merely interested as we pulled up in the car park, and slightly bored as we walked up the steps to the reception. All going well so far.

After checking in, we took a seat in the waiting room. At this point Doris seemed to work out that Something Was Up. Neck stretched high, she bokked a low alarm call. I soothed her and hoped that no one was about to barge in with an excitable terrier. Yep, thought Doris, Something Is Definitely Up. She was just working her way up to a full on 'I am NOT liking this!' bokking crescendo when the charming vet ushered us in.

She decided to go along with it as the vet lifted her up and looked at her this way and that. She even sat placidly while he used a bright light to examine her spotty eye. When he squeezed the area above her nostrils, she told him off but managed to restrain herself from removing his fingernail. I was quite proud. At this point, the vet was thinking that some eye ointment was all that was necessary. However, just as he was about to dispense the ointment, he decided to just check her temperature. Instructing me to hold her still facing me, he advanced with the thermometer.

Now, some people will tell you that it is very hard to read expressions on a birds face. Some might say impossible. Chickens are without eyebrows or lips, so they are rather limited it's true. However, when the vet took Doris's temperature the shock was very much written all over her small beaky chops. Eyes wide and beak hanging open, the poor girl just could not believe that this was happening. Stunned in to silence initially, she let out an air raid siren of 'How very dare you!'. Withdrawing the thermometer, the vet was just telling me that Doris had a temperature of 107.5F (a normal body temperature for a chicken is around 104F) when she got her revenge. I knew the signs as she dipped her head and lifted her tail but didn't get a chance to warn the poor vet. He found his pristine examining table, and not a small portion of his white coat, splattered with narky hen excrement. Feeling that her point had been made, Doris turned around and glared at him. Hastily, I shoved her back in to the carrier and made a speedy exit.

So Doris is on Baytril, a small dose twice a day, to treat an infection. The vet also gave her an injection of Baytril to get it in to her system. I have put her back out with the flock rather than seperate her. It's a tricky line to tread when it comes to seperation versus flock integration, but right now I think she's better with her chums. I am hoping to see a marked improvement come the weekend as we are travelling.

So now I have to break the news to my hen sitter that she will have to administer oral antibiotics to a small chicken. I should probably buy her a bottle of wine.


  1. I know the situation isn't funny, but your recounting of the tale had me howling!! Thanks for the laugh. And I hope Doris is doing well.

  2. Oh my! SO funny! Poor Doris & good for her! That silly vet deserved it for violating her!