Mista Clyde Doodle: April 1, 2009 - May 31, 2011

Clyde on his last day with the flock
My poor precious boy. He was misdiagnosed. The vet thought his gonads were a mass. But if you look in the previous post you will see that his poop was water with the thinnest worm of solids in it. This is indicative of intestinal obstruction. Yes, Clyde's liver functions were low and he was a bit anemic, but he had good days and bad days, though not anything like I would expect of cancer. At first I thought there was little I could do and Clyde started to get better and better. He went outside and played, called out to his flock through the window, and enjoyed giant mealworms. Then he rested for a day.

The next morning Clyde was perked up and calling to the flock again. When I let him out of the crate his orange and black webbed feet padded across the hardwood toward the flock's calls coming through the open kitchen window. He was ready to go outside, so out we went.

It was Monday, Memorial Day, May 30th and the sun was shining. I watched Clyde's interactions with the flock and photographed them. Clyde mated, went for a swim, and gulped down a lot of crumble. It was a sure sign, I thought, that he was over the hump. He was better. I was hopeful.
Ming (foreground) and Olga (background) keep one eye on the sky as Clyde (middle) floats in the pool.

But after a couple of hours Clyde began to slow down and I decided it was time for him to go in and rest. He was hanging out alone, away from the rest of the flock, and it appeared the old fatigue had caught up with him again. I kept thinking about what the vet said about how Clyde was so young and it was unusual for ducks to get cancer that young (Clyde was only two years old.)

Clyde preening after floating in the pool.

Once back in his crate in the house, Clyde first looked around curiously for mealworms. I still thought it was a good sign that he was getting better. I've had several ducks who stopped eating and were treated with antibiotics and became better and their symptoms weren't too different from Clyde's. Unfortunately, I didn't notice the right signs, nor push my theory at the vet's office.

Augie follows Mista Clyde closely. Augie and Clyde were raised together. Clyde, Ming, and Augie I referred to as "The Three Stooges". This was the last time Augie would see Clyde alive.

That night I went to pick up a friend and then we had dinner, relaxed, talked. I changed Clyde's water, noticed he was lethargic, seemed really tired. I was worried. I kept checking on him and late at night saw that he was grunting. I thought back to how he had very subtly arched his tail toward the ground sometimes. I had told the vet, on the first visit, I believed it was highly likely that Clyde could have swallowed something. X-rays were taken. Of course if it wasn't metal or a large rock it wouldn't show up. I called emergency clinics. All they said they could do was euthanize him, so I had to wait until morning to call the veterinarian and, luckily, got in to see the vet I had wanted to see the first time.

Clyde had gone downhill so fast from just the day before when he seemed on the mend. That morning his feces had a bad smell it hadn't had before. At the vet's office we talked about the possibilities and I told the vet I was convinced Clyde had an obstruction and I wanted the vet to perform surgery. I signed a consent form to allow the vet to euthanize him if the problem was untreatable. Clyde was scheduled for first thing in the morning.

But the vet called back that evening and said he would operate on Clyde right then and call me in an hour. When the call came my heart leapt and an icy chill ran the length from my heart to my fingertips. I knew Clyde hadn't made it. The vet explained that when he opened him up he found an intestinal obstruction, a mat of organic matter, some sort of root, that had lodged in his intestine. Then, the vet said when he investigated further he found a blow-out in Clyde's intestines and intestinal fluids had leaked into his body cavity and he had acute peritonitis. Furthermore, Clyde's liver was covered in white lesions. The vet advised me to take fecal samples of several birds, mix them together, and bring them in for testing.

The next day I drove to the vet's office to retrieve Clyde's frozen body and drop of the fecal sample for testing. I felt strange driving home with Clyde's body wrapped in a sterile pad and closed with duct tape that said in Spanish "Vaya Con Dios, Clyde!" Where did my little guy go? How could he be here and then be gone forever? I was glad he wasn't suffering anymore, but I felt I could have done more.

I will write two more posts about this matter. One will be about signs and symptoms to watch for with intestinal obstruction. The other will be about how I handle a death within the flock when it comes to the remaining ducks who are still alive.

The fecal tests were negative. My flock does not have internal parasites. Clyde's lesions could have been caused by the poison in his body from struggling with the blockage.

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