Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Small Victory

The only thing I knew about the duckling was that he 'wobbled'. Obviously, he had some neural deficit, possibly from an injury to his neck, head or back. Whatever the case, it didn't slow him down. While he couldn't stand well, he never slowed in trying to get where he wanted to go.
I fed him a mix of nutritious granules with water so he wouldn't, in his zeal, eat so much or so fast as to impact his crop (he'd done it before), holding his busy little body with both hands so he wouldn't fall over. He seemed to eat the water but as I watched, he would suck the granules up and continue snapping at the water, all the time emitting the small whistles of a baby duck.
As the food disappeared, I left him to wander his net cage. He wasn't doing well at all, crying and wandering the cage.
I realized as a tiny duckling, he'd be with his mother and after a meal, he would then snuggle under her wings next to her body to take a nap and feel safe.
After wandering the huge laundry room, I came up with a teddy bear with a knitted sweater, hoping it would at least be big enough to prop Wobble up in the cage.
As soon as I laid the teddy on the floor of the cage, Wobble began 'feeling' the teddy's fur with his beak. I put a sheet over the front of the cage so Wobble couldn't see me and could focus on calming himself.
After feeding other tiny nestlings, I realized I didn't hear Wobble crying or fretting. I wondered what had happened. Cautiously lifting the sheet, I could hear tiny whistles coming from the teddy (Wobble talking in his sleep), but I couldn't locate him right away. As my eyes searched for a tiny black and yellow form, I found him--he had made his way under the teddy and under the knitted sweater, curled up and fallen asleep.
What joy! He had done exactly what he need to--taken a nap and relaxed. This with all of the other supportive care he was receiving would certainly make his quality of life better. We can only hope he heals enough to be able to wander the grounds of the sanctuary when he's older.