Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pipke's Very Last Fight

This post is about death. 
If you don’t want to read about death in great detail, 
best stop reading now.

Last August started off full of hope. Pipke's health was improving. She had gained weight and was eating well for more than a month already. I was preparing a post about her and the electric guitar man.
Yes, my hubby was already working on his new project. His electric guitar.
It was funny to see how Pipke stood there in the doorway while he was working. She had taken on a new pose... we thought.... (she leaned with her belly against the door post).
It was a disillusion to discover later that this pose ... was in fact the forerunner of bad news. Therefore I postponed that was no longer was rather harrowing that we first laughed with it.

From then on she began to eat less and less. She staggered on her little feet, she almost never slept on her belly. That worried us very much. You could sense exhaustion.
Because her weight went down so much we revisited the vet for tube feeding on August 26. (For the19th time over the past ten years, each time for a period of 14, sometimes even 30 days).

On September, 7 there was still no progress and her weight went still downwards... the tube feeding became a real torture for her. Therefore, overwhelmed with sorrow and much pain in our heart we decided to stop the tube feeding.
This was the worst day in our life so far.
It seemed if we had given her up, but that was not at all the case, we could no longer see her suffer. Therefore we still went to the vet, but now only for pain release and vitamins injections, but after a few days, we saw -- that also that became too much for her.

On September, 9 she had her first stroke after she stepped the whole distance alone by herself to her pond. It was such a heartbreaking experience, we thought she had died. We had already said farewell to her, and then...she jumped up again ... very afraid .... looking astonished around. It seemed if she came from very far away.
The rest of that day we kept her inside the house and from then on we installed a warmth lamp for her (even inside the house). You could see that she enjoyed the warmth while she slept in my arms on her belly. That was the first time in more than fourteen days that we saw her sleeping on her belly. That evening when I put her outside in her veranda she moaned, she had never done that before.
That was so heartrending to hear! I said to my husband: "I would like to keep her indoors" but my husband said that "this was not possible".
That night ...I almost couldn't sleep, every few hours I went downstairs to see how she was doing. She stood the whole time with one paw on her water bowl, drinking... without resting. In the very early morning (it was still dark), I took her inside the house. Then I took the decision: from now on she stays inside!

The night of September, 10 -- I slept on a cot in the laundry room. For her - we placed her dogs nest next to the cot on the floor with a little fence around it, but the whole time she stood there against the fence, wobbling on her feet... looking at me... almost begging to pick her up. I couldn't bear to watch how she stood there, so fragile! Therefore I took her up and from then on she slept on her belly on my breast, absorbing the warmth of my body. She cuddled me over and over again, that was so seemed if she would thank me.

On the cot

The following nights I slept with her (rather dozed off so now and then) on the sofa in the living room because sleeping on that cot became almost a torture for me. My husband slept on the other sofa in the room.

After her first stroke you saw her deteriorating very fast.
We tried to comfort her as much we could.
Sometimes, when I stood at the window with her looking out into the garden she started to moan to go outside.
Then I walked with her in my arms through the garden, together with my hubby like we had done so many times before, but this time with one difference: I had to carry her now because she could almost walk no more by herself.
So now and then we went to her pond.

My hubby cleaned her pond and refreshed the water once again so that she could take a clean bath. Oh... that was so tough... knowing... that this would be probably the last bath in her pond.
With everything she did I had to support her, but you could see that she enjoyed being in the garden together with us.
Sometimes, when I sat in the kitchen with her and she heard that my hubby opened the back door (to go to his garden house to work on his guitar), she looked up and turned her head -- then her eyes followed my hubby going outside -- and then she moaned to go with him

Even now she wanted to be his assistant carpenter. Therefore I went with her to the garden house to watch what my hubby was doing. You could see that she was satisfied to be there.

On the evening of September, 11 we went outside with her for the last time. It seemed if she was saying good bye to her little world. It was remarkable... how she was looking around.... observing everything!
For the last time... we sat together on the garden bench... with the three of us... in silence.. listening to the tune* of the ice cream car ... that passed by... as usual around this time... for her... for the very last time.

The days thereafter... there was no longer interest for the outside world. When we stood then at the window ...looking outside into the garden... she was very silent... as if she knew that the end was near.

She became weaker and weaker, skin and bones, she weighed only 802 grams!
The last seven days and also the last four nights I held her close to me to keep her warm and to comfort her. She slept constantly on my breast. So now and then I walked around with her because my body became too stiff from lying down or sitting in the same position.
It was remarkable that during those nights, sometimes I dozed off for a while and then: I didn't turn my body, it seemed almost if my back was glued down on the sofa so that I couldn't hurt her by turning around.
When I opened my eyes then... I saw straight in Pipke's eyes...she was watching me while I dozed off. 
Those lovely sweet eyes... I shall remember them for the rest of my days!

We had always water ready to let her drink. When I asked her then: drink, drink (she understood very well what we said to her, we had our own special language, I always said: we speak “Quacks” to each other) she made a smacking noise with her beak to let us know that she wanted to drink.
Sometimes she had problems with swallowing, then I had to help her to swallow the water that she drunk by massaging her neck. You could see that she appreciated this very much because she held her head up high then, almost like asking for help.
There were moments that I thought that her breathing had stopped and then I stopped my breath to feel hers. Her heartbeat went sometimes so fast ... almost as fast as the shots of a tommy gun.

She had yet five times an other stroke and oh, that was every time such an heartrending experience... to see her suffer so much. Sometimes the stroke took a few hours, and then when we thought it was over.... she jumped up again afraid. Then she crawled very dense against me and pushed her little head against my face in search of security

The night following on September, 13 we experienced the worst night of her and our life.
We couldn't let her suffer more ... it was hopeless!
Oh ... what we once feared the most: we had to let her put down. We had to free her from the pain. She was such a brave fighter ... and we fought together with her ... but ... she had no longer the force to fight. Those last days of her life ....together with her...were the most intensive days of our life.

On Monday morning September, 14 we called the vet, he would call us back for the exact hour.
We sat as long as we could with our hands around Pipke, hugging her... speaking soft to her, and when my husband went away to answer the phone call of the vet ... she moaned a little. It seemed if she knew that .... oh ... I burst into tears very loud!
My dear little Pipke, I wished that we didn't have to take this decision!

The vet came to our house a half hour later (normally his assistant was on duty, but he himself  postponed a not urgent surgery to take care for Pipke).
When my husband opened the door to let him in, I heard my hubby burst into tears... asking the vet to apologize him because he could not keep his emotions under control.
The vet comforted him and said that showing no emotions now would be rather heartless. He knew Pipke already ten years, and also for him she was a special case, not just a duck.
When he saw Pipke, he was really shocked that she was deteriorated so fast. He confirmed that it was hopeless, that it was good that we had called him otherwise, Pipke would have died a hideous death.
Then ... he gave her the releasing injection. It went all very serene ... very quick ... it was as if she fell asleep. 
It was a riddance for her.
Pipke died on my breast at exact 9.10 AM local time.

Since that very last moment, our world became so empty ... we miss her so much! 
Only ... just looking out into the garden makes us cry ... it's as if our world has stopped ... even my hubby's garden house stayed closed. His easy chair stays no longer on the lawn in the afternoon, there's no longer someone waiting for him to take a nap. 
We even walked in the garden no more... it's too hard to bear.
Those last three weeks we shed more tears than we ever shed in our whole life before.
Our little sunshine is no longer here... but she will always stay in our heart and in our thoughts
Since that last time ... together ... sitting on the garden bench ... that ice cream car tune* is always spinning around in my head, it's always present.
From the one hand: I would like it to go away, but on the other hand ... I want it to stay forever ... because it was such a deeply sad, but also such an extreme intense life experience.

She was the best that could ever happen to us.
Life can be so cruel when you lose what's the most precious to you, and for me, it was and will be for ever: 
We will never forget her.
She was such a brave fighter.

Sleep soft my little one!

May 25, 1995 -- September 14, 2009

The same day Pipke became cremated. I shall write about it in an other post.

PS: * Tune of the Ice cream car: always repeating the 22 first notes of the Radetzky march by Johann Strauss in an electronic version.


  1. Oh Fran! What torture. What agony. What heartache. Poor little Pipke. And you now with a broken heart. I hope you find comfort that you did the right thing for her. What a jewel in your crown that is.

  2. Thanks Jeannie.In fact what I did was giving her palliative care and I experienced it so intense that in my thoughts I relive it over and over again. We still are going through a tough time, but life goes on and I will try to think only on the beautiful time we had together.
    They say you can cry because she has died, but you also can laugh because she has lived! If I can ... I prefer to do that last thing. She gave us the best time in our life!

  3. Then take every opportunity to remember the good times and laugh! )

  4. You're a good friend to animals...
    thank you for that.

    Thank you for sharing the wonderful good times and the sad last times.

    Time for me to find a successor for my lost companion. There could be no 'replacement".


  5. Hello Fran. I'm glad to meet you. Your story touches me. I love ducks, too.

  6. What an awesome life you provided for your pet duck. It was her time to go and you did the right thing and humanely. Remember the good times you had with her and what joy she provided for you during her time on this earth.

    Gayle in Seattle (pet lover too)

  7. Thanks to you all for visiting my blog. Writing about Pipke gives me consolation and it's a real support for me to know that you all read her story.
    I hope you will come back to read about the happy times we had together. I am still working on her story but in the mean time I will show you beautiful memories!

  8. oh Fran, we are so sorry. thank you for doing so much for her

  9. oh i just wish i hadn't read this
    you did the best, she was your part and always will be, she is just not visible anymore but in peace and won't ever be in pain again ever

  10. Dear Ambur, I know that reading about death isn't at all pleasant and I hope I haven't upset or distressed you too much. Unfortunately it wasn't a fairytale, it was the reality. It was a part of her story. I wrote how I've experienced it. Try to let predominate the good times, that's also what I'm trying to do.
    She was such a sweet little critter!
    Thanks for your comment and taking the time to read her story.

  11. no no i'm ok, in fact you are giving me courage to fight back the loss of my little duck, n when i think about my two other ducks m so attached with, i keep on thinking how bravely you stomached everything after 14 years n 3 months, so why can't i ?

  12. Oh, then I'm relieved that I could give you courage! :) Cherish your two little critters, have much joy with them!
    I've added Pipke's YouTube channel above on the side bar. May I invite you to take a look at it?
    Enjoy the beautiful moments that I had with Pipke!
    Thanks for your kind answer.

  13. Yes, they are so much fun i never want to loose them but i'll have to face it someday as you said its not a fairy tale so no happily ever after.
    I saw Pipke on youtube, she was cute helper n haha she while being an assistant carpenter didn't like that glove, funny thing, this is what my ducks do to new shoes :)

  14. If she wasn't allowed to cooperate with you then she could be restless and angry. Also our shoes were a problem!:) We always had to wear the same kind and color of shoes that she knew already from her birth.
    Gardening was a real pleasure with her in the neighborhood! She was a good soil fertilizer! :) lol

  15. I still want to add:
    Whe are really kindred spirits Ambur! On your profile I saw that your Teddy was also "the love of your life!" He's (or was?) a cute little critter. Is that the one who died? :-(

  16. yes she is the one who died of respiratory n sinus infection, she was so dear to us, my brother who had off that day from office didn't want to believe she is gone, i covered her with a sheet of cloth n he uncovered every time though he knew well she is gone
    we n her mate, Jack had difficult days but we tried to compose ourselves always saying she was our queen(as we often called her Queen Teddy) n we will never cry for her, we'll always remember her with smiles cuz we spent golden moments with her n now with Jack n Andy :)

  17. How sad to hear that Ambur. Has your Teddy died suddenly?
 I think it's easier to handle if there preceded no long agony. 
But- you must also understand that I also went through a “*horrible life experience” where I can't talk about openly on the Internet. I only can tell you that I stayed three months in hospital because of *that, and thereafter I also had four months day treatment! So it wasn't "only Pipke's dead" that made me so sad!

    And yes, now she also makes me smile again when I think back on the happy times we had together.:)

  18. no she suffered 2 weeks n we felt so miserable cuz we couldn't share her pain...she left painfully, had awful throes. Did Pipke go...peacefully ?
    i can imagine how life was for you, as our pets seem to be the center n only interest of life its impossible to fill the gap they leave in our lives, but i hope you gather yourself n get yourself out of darks, its very important

  19. you n your husband should go have some vacation, they can help flow gloom away for sometime

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. i'm so sorry, i shouldn't have brought this topic up
      i really am sorry, hope you've been successful in composing yourself now

  21. Answer on your comment from 3:44 AM

    Two weeks suffering was also more than enough. What a pitty that she left so painfully it must have been a heavy burden for you all!
    Pipke became ill around august 10, and died on september 14. So that was more than one month. Oh - that was such a long agony for us all. We saw her deteriorate each day. You really saw life flowing out of her and we couldn't do nothing to mitigate her suffering. After the lethel injection Pipke died very quick and peacefully on my breast. People who don't have animals will never know what they are missing!

  22. 1 n half month, oh its like hanging between life n death, when we can't do anything to help them, n it kills to see them going down n down every minute, every day, i'd never wish it on anyone
    thanx God she at least didn't have to go painfully after all those pains she already had gone through

  23. Hi Fran, I just stumbled upon Pipke's story today. I'm glad you and your husband were able to take such loving care of her. Her story has really moved me. Thank you for posting about it.

  24. Hi Anonymous. I'm glad you've stumbled upon "My nest" and that Pipke could move you! Hope you will discover my other blog: "My Nest: Life Story of a Duck". There you can read her full life story.
    To visit this blog click above on the right side of this page on the link: Pipke's Life Story.
    Thanks for reading and your comment:)!

  25. Hi Fran, I am really really sorry for your loss. When I was 11, I bought two fishes as pets. But both of then died within a year and it broke my heart :( Its too painful too loose your pet animal. I decided not to get another pet.
    But 4 years later, I found a perfect companion for me. I bought a (pet?) spruce tree. We have a lot of other trees but this was the first one I have taken care of since it was a baby. Its three years old now but has already grown twice as big as me. This January, I bought a baby pine tree. Its needle like leaves look really cute =). Now I have to leave them (college) but its comforting that the will be here for me when I come home.
    Tress make really good companion and will help you fill the void :)

    Lots of love

  26. Hi Snehan, very kind of you to leave a message!
    You really must be a very loving and sensitive person to have so much feelings - even towards a 'fish'.
    I do say this because : you can't hug fish, if you talk to them, they can't reply.
    Actually your love was unconditional.
    To love a creature this way proves you have the heart at the right place Snehan!
    Every living creature deserves it to be treated with respect - even trees.
    I hope your trees will grow large and tall and that they will provide you a lot of shade in your warm and sunny India!
    Also I can find comfort in the beauty of nature, but unfortunately I have no longer my own garden.
    I only have one pot with a small buxus (boxwood) tree which I took with me when I left the place where Pipke lived.
    I also nurture that tiny tree - like you nurture your trees!
    I hope your studies will proceed well and that you will succeed.
    I wish you success Snehan!
    Thanks for your kind comment and take care sweet boy!
    Lots of love in return :)

    PS: if I can count well then you must be around fifteen or sixteen years old!
    You have a beautifull personality and a beautifull attitude towards life for such a young person. I admire you!
    The world would become a better place when there were more boys like you.:)