Hello, I fairly new and inexperienced in comparison to just about everyone I have seen post here that have been members. I first came here thanks to Google for information on my first hen. (This is her story, first time ever really telling it in full) We rescued her from a neighbor that was not treating her well at all. She had an injured wing and a leg that healed wrong after being broke. She was kept in a rubbermaid tub outside during the day and in the tub still inside at night. She was rarely afforded interaction with any other chickens or people. She had a hard time walking, and standing on both legs. She could but not for very long. She spent most of her time sitting on her legs with her feet out forward slightly. Most of the time one leg would slide out repeatedly and she would pull it back in. Else she would be laying on her side when her leg bothered her or she lost her balance. She struggled to get back onto her feet nearly every time, but she was a fighter. She rarely just gave up and stayed on her side. Due to this leg issue it was hard to get her to drink water. She often would either refuse to or not drink enough from what I read she should be drinking. Tho in the beginning, she was on her feet more and did drink close to what she should have. It just slowed up over time. I do understand their reasoning for removing her from the others (1 roo and 2 hens) as they were picking at her fairly rough after her injuries. But it came down to them saying they would pop her out of the "crate" and let nature take it's course. I was at work at the time, and my girlfriend knew of all this long before I knew any of it. Infact I barely knew anything until the day she was in our home. She was nervous to take her in while I was at work as she knows I am very opinionated when it comes to animals. (She has had a habit of dropping cats into our house and making me ok with it lol) Well when I came home, she sheepishly told me about her, her history and that she is now in the house. She initially was "babysitting her to nurse her back to health" as she told me. I took one look at her and I told her, they will never get her back. Obviously this was a relief and a surprise to her This poor girl was in pretty rough shape. But she was a fighter to say the least. She was a snuggle bug right away. The most calm sweetest animal I ever met. Not a negative trait in her what so ever. If she was a person, she would be the type to always be obnoxiously happy and always smiling regardless of the situation. Within 4 days, I held her on my chest while sitting in my recliner. She did not even flinch when I picked her up. I placed her on my chest, again, she was still relaxed and was A'ok. I rocked the chair, and she would do this slow walk like motion and she fell asleep on her back on me. I never was one to melt emotionally for anything, but this girl owned me that day. I fell in love immediately. My girlfriend came to the back room where we were, and the first words she said were "That is your bird". I said I know. They will never get her back. I will not allow her to be mistreated as they were. She deserved FAR better than what they were doing with her. (Mind you all 3 people that lived there were drug addicts of some sort). As time went on she provided so much love and companionship. She never held anything back. I finally saw what unconditional love is like coming from someone or something else. She always wanted her "daddy time". She did have very strong days, she would be over at her food and water. eating and drinking. She would finish off her food and walk to the side a bit. Wait a few mins and poop. Then in the best way we could describe it, she would bolt from her poop like she was thinking "OMG I POOPED!" Like she was scared of her poop lol. She would run halfway to me and sit again a few mins. Then do it again and run the rest of the way. She would run up and sit by my feet looking up at me in a way I can hardly describe. She always had this look of love or something when she looked at me. I know it sounds cheesy, but I am serious. She had such a softness to her look and head mannerisms. I usually sit on a couch in front of my computer since I am a remote admin and web/C++ coder. So if I didn't pick her up right away, she would kinda do this small balk or chirp telling me she wants to be up by me. So I would pick her up and put her in this special bed I made up for her that kept her upright and her legs comfy. She never tried to jump out unless she was spooked, or what appeared to be "spooked". I would calm her down and she would settle back in. (more on this later) Over time, her health went up and down. Weird things here and there that both scared the hell out of me and confused me. Never having a chicken companion I didn't even know the right search terms, the right things to look for etc. I fumbled along when she had some issue. She was a tough girl. She fought long and hard even tho I was wholly unprepared and under qualified to be her "savior". I wanted so badly to keep her happy and healthy. I think she knew this, and many times it felt like she was telling me "It is ok dad, I know you are trying and you love me". And that I most definitely did. She started getting to the point of only wanting to sleep by me. We had a nightly ritual of cuddle time and sitting by me on the couch before sleep after spending the day with mom in a cooler room. The day times got pretty warm here in the house during summer and she did much better in the backroom during the day. She would let me know when she wanted to sleep and she preferred to be in that bed on the floor next to me. Not to mention she would let me know if I leave the lights on or computer on too long. Anyway fast forward a bit, and my girlfriend had to go out of state for a couple weeks, so it was just her and I. By this time it was a struggle to get her to drink water on a regular basis but I still managed to get her to drink some. I would offer her water every few mins even when she sat by me. Many times she would turn away from it or hit the bowl with her beak so as to shove it away. She still did the walk/poop/run thing. Sometimes not as dramatic and sometimes she wouldn't at all. She would just sit there. Over the course of the first week my girlfriend was gone, my pretty lil bird started deteriorating in health rather noticeably in hind sight. At the time, it was so gradual and since she was already in a rough spot it didn't seem quite as bad as it turned out to be. Tho looking back, we think she felt she was missing one of her flock and was slightly depressed about it. I also didn't have as much of a chance to have the daddy time as I was very focused on my work. But she still came up to me and she still sat next to me every day/night. I did often pick her up and give her little moments of snuggle. But it was shorter. She was still the happy bird, but she had a sadness to her at this point. If I left the room for anything, she would "cry" as I put it. She never really was a loud girl. There were 2 times while my girlfriend was gone that my bird would make a ruckus that was out of character. (out of time context here, but part of the plot) The first time sounded like the egg song, but she was not laying at the time. For some odd reason, I just knew what she was needing. I had zero knowledge prior to this as to why she would need this or even to have any clue she would really. But strangely enough, she ate too much too fast and her crop was hurting her it seemed. I went over to her and rubbed her crop for about 10 mins till it softened up. I just sat down and rubbed it gently. She gave me this look of "Thank you, that is exactly what I needed". She was extra cuddly that day. The second time, was more like a complaint or trying to tell me something. She did this while I was on the phone with the girlfriend. (more about this as well later). I had to run out one day to transfer some money for the girlfriend to be able to get home. This was a 25 min drive both ways. I had to be out for at least 2 hours. So I snuggled her up in her half crate that had a fully open top. Just so if she got spooked (again real or what I thought was spooked) She wouldn't flop around the house on her side and get hurt. Thinking back, I do remember a feeling of dread from her, that she really didn't want me to go. Again, this may sound weird to some. But I really strongly believe I had some connection with her where I could understand some emotions or her wants. At the time I felt it, and I hated leaving her alone like this. But I had to. I felt a sense of urgency and sadness the whole time I was out, for leaving her alone like that. After I came back home, she was never the same. She seemed ultra depressed and really sad. She didn't have the always happy in her eyes. She still had the love in there from what I sensed. But everything else was empty. Her desire to drink was very minimal. She also panted much more than she usually would, prompting me to offer water more often. I was worried that she might be hot so I put chilled water bottles under her bed to try to cool her off. She was not having this. She tried jumping out of the bed if they were under her. As she would always mess herself while in the bed, it started getting darker than normal all day. it was a deep green sometimes nearly black and smelled strong. I had no idea what this was meaning. I didn't even think to look it up as I never knew anything about chickens and the meaning of poops. I did know she was warm tho so I tried to cool her off but she just was not about it. I would take her into the bathtub and run a few inches of water in the tub for her to cool off in and clean her up. This seemed to cool her off as she stopped panting and instead started shivering like she was slightly cold after getting out of the water. So I would wrap her in a towel and bring her back out to the area we sit. She would get some daddy time like this bundled up. She always seemed to love this. This time was no exception. She seemed to be back to her normal'ish' self again and she wanted back in her bed after a bit. That night I spent a little extra time coding as I was dealing with a difficult project. We ended up staying up late as we kind of did for the previous few nights. She always seemed to adjust to my sleep pattern regardless of the chaos. She would tell me bed time at the right amount of time being awake regardless of where it fell on the clock. I ended up messing up my sleep pattern where I was asleep until about noon/1pm. This was not very uncommon when the girlfriend was here, and she would quietly pick up our bird and take her to the back room long before I would wake up. But starting this day, we ended up with a warm week. The room got a little warmer than usual and I have sensitive kidneys so I would wake up with kidney pain due to sleeping in the warm part of the day. After I woke up I looked at the time and felt the warmth in the air and was slightly freaked out about if she was ok. I actually woke her up...she slept in too! heh. So I brought her over to her food and water. She did try to drink, but not very much. But she did eat. She seemed to never have issues wanting to eat at all. It was drinking that was the trouble. This time after eating, she stayed over by her food for quite a while. She almost seemed like she was mad at me for one of the first times ever. I let her stay over there as it was cooler in the corner she was in. But she started flopping and I went to pick her up instead of waiting for her to make her way over. I picked her up and got her situated in her little bed. She seemed happy about that. She did her normal cute looks at me off and on. (you know the curious looks of "what are ya doing dad?"). Once in a while she did the spook thing again and I would calm her down and she would settle back in the bed. Now to the Ruckus that she made only the second time ever really. While talking with the GF on the phone during another of her times of trying to get her to drink and her eating up her food. I was standing on the opposite side of her from where her and I normally sit. She ate just fine, drank some and started her run towards my couch, like she was going to "meet me there". She got halfway there and started her loud noises. like she was yellin at me. The girlfriend heard it and we both chuckled and thought she was just being cute. Cuz aside from her making an out of character noise, she was always a little clown. At the time, it did not resonate with me that it was out of character. Looking back, she was trying hard to tell me something is wrong. The last feeding of the night went much different than normal. She didn't seem as interested in food and she did her usual not much water. So I tried to keep more water offered to her up until bed time. She barely even tried to drink the whole time. But she was still full of her normal cute spunk. So it felt like business as usual, we stayed up about the same amount of time and I put her to bed and kissed her good night and said goodnight and I love you like I always did. She seemed to reciprocate this as well every time. This time was no exception. Now to the worst day/night of my life. I again woke up at the same time. This time she was awake staring up at me. So I rushed her over to her water. SHE DRANK! I was kinda excited. She refused to eat tho. I figured she was too thirsty finally as we woke up again late and it was warm again. So I let her stay in the cold area as she wasn't trying to hard to wander back. After a bit she did start to come over. But as she sometimes did, she flopped mid way/mid poop. This poop was different than ever. It smelled AWEFUL. It was dark and runny. She didn't mess herself with it, so she didn't need a cleaning. Her vent was always clean, nothing ever stuck to it. Even looking back after what I know now, her vent was in perfect shape. So I scooped her up and put her in her bed. She did her happy thank you chirp like she always does. I cleaned up her mess and came back and sat down by her doing our thing. A few hours later she dropped a smell bomb in her bed. I picked her up and took her to clean her up and cool her off. I changed her bedding again. Now from this point she started acting really out of sorts. She had no energy, something was off. I called my girlfriend and mentioned it to her. She said try taking her outside, as she sometimes did while supervising her and that always perked her up. I took her outside and she didn't flop, but she sat on her legs pretty much motionless with a little wobble. She had a semi blank look to her, but she would still once in a while look at me with her love you dad look. I brought her back in, and she was a bit better, she seemed to improve a very tiny bit. I sat there with her trying to keep her dry as she was still moist from her bath yet. At this point, I was very concerned about how to cool her down. She was not taking any measures I tried to cool her. And the bath was not really working either. She pretty much still had the blank look, and was starting to pant or so I thought, she was actually gasping a bit. I didn't realize this at the time, but panic mode set in quite a bit before this, it just didn't register. She soiled herself again and I cleaned it up and brought her into the bath again to clean her off and try to cool her down. I put her in the water, and she nose dived face first into the water. I think she ended up getting some in her mouth. I still am not 100% sure if she breathed any in, she wasn't gurgling at all. This is when real panic hit. I was fully aware from this point just what the reality of the situation was. I called my girlfriend again slightly frantic that something was wrong with our baby girl. I was holding her in her towel like I always do after a bath. while talking to my girlfriend. She was trying to get an idea of what was happening, we were talking about what all I am noticing and trying when it started.... She started gasping for air, struggling really hard to breathe. I started screaming and crying. I dropped the phone. I barely remember what I was saying, but I think it was something like repeatedly yelling "no!", "omg no!", and "Don't go! no!". Her head went slightly limp and then she slightly lifted it again and her wings started flapping. I yelled "Fight it baby girl fight it!" (this much I remember). Then she was just limp with reflex movement and I was screaming so loud that she is gone. I was bawling like a baby and screaming. She stopped and I held her tight. I got some composure back and picked up the phone. Tho I did not realize it at the time, She has passed when she first went limp. I never had an animal, let alone one I loved so deeply pass in my arms. I had no idea until it was obvious and in my face, where denial of the situation was impossible. My girlfriend had no idea what was happening, I don't even remember what she said after I first picked the phone back up. I just remember constantly screaming over and over she is gone. She finally understood what I was saying and well it was not good on her end either. I must have held her for about a half an hour or more, I repeatedly said "I am not ready to let her go". My girlfriend asked me where she was and I told her I still was holding her, she said I have to put her down somewhere. I couldn't, I said "I am not ready". Eventually I found a box to place her in, on a chair across the room. We talked on the phone and I said I was not burying her. I don't want the wildlife digging her up. As well as I want her with me since we rent. I did not feel right burying her and leaving her behind. So I reminded her that I said in the past that if anything should happen to our girl, I want her cremated so we could keep her close regardless of where we were. She agreed. Problem was, here I am in hysterics, no one around, nothing open and it is 11:30pm. I looked up places that do cremations and nothing opened until 8am. So her and I talked as long as she could. By the time we hung up I was still a wreck, I don't even have any idea how to describe the emptiness and emotions at that point. I was desperate to be talking to someone, because as soon as I had no one to talk to I was crying uncontrollably. I connected to voice chat to friends on the server I run. They helped quite a bit. We talked for hours off and on. I couldn't even put the headset down to go to the bathroom and before I took a step was crying. I had no idea how I was going to make it past this. I kept saying to myself, and to her, you were supposed to outlast me. I was supposed to go first since I have cancer. She was far too young, only 4 years old. I kept repeating this over and over when I had no one to talk to. To be honest I really thought I was losing my mind. I had no idea how to channel this. I had no idea how to manage or contain it. I was a mess. I never felt this horrible even after losing my grandmother who was the closest person ever in my life and I loved dearly. I still have a hard time reconciling why this was so much harder, and still is. The hours felt like years. Off and on I'd have no one to talk to up till the time to call places. I looked in on my girl once in a while and lost it every time. Tho I was not ready to let her go. It was like torture to the very depths of my soul having her there like that for so long. Lifeless and gone. Yet still there. It hurt like nothing I have ever known. I finally got the strength and courage to close the box up and have a half hearted attempt to say good bye. I felt I had to close the box for good, I couldn't keep it open any longer. It was too hard. Finally the last few mins before places opened up and the mins my god dragged on. I called one place and they were very callous towards me, especially about cremating a "chicken". Pain turned to anger for a moment there. That felt familiar and safer. But it did not last long at all. I called another place, and talked to a very nice lady. I was having a hard time even speaking, I told her what happened and that I need to have her cremated, there was no other option in my mind. She was like yes we can do that, and we do it in house. I was slightly relieved to hear it. I then asked her if it was possible that they save her flight feathers. She was actually quite enthusiastic in saying of course and that they include foot print cards if we wanted them. At this point I lost it. I started crying again to a woman I never even met. She was very understanding and I apologized, she said "No worries, nothing to apologize for." She asked if I needed time to bring her in, if I was ok to drive and such. I told her I have been sitting with her since 11:30pm in this state, and I need to do this even tho I am not ready to. She said ok, take your time and come in when ready. So the drive.. Same stuff, barely able to keep it together. I had a brief distraction when I was almost to the vet's office. Some young kid in a beat up Honda was tailgating me so bad I could not see his front tires in my mirror. So, anger again...Felt familiar and easier to deal with. But faded just as fast. I sat in the parking lot for who knows how long holding the box she was in. But I finally went inside. the lady at the counter was not the same person that was on the phone, but she knew I was coming. I was looking out their lobby window. Mind you this is a Animal Hospital. They have a large chicken run outside in view of this window. I saw one that looked just like my baby. I said, "My god this is torture" or something of that nature. She was like, "Oh wow I understand." So she asked if I wanted to go to a room and fill out the paperwork in privacy. Again I nearly lost it. But held together just long enough for me to get the exam room door shut. She had this look of wow on her face, and complete empathy. It took me about what felt like an hour to fill out the 2 pages of paperwork. But it was only half that I am guessing. I was holding her the whole time... When I was finally able to give her to the lady I again said I am not ready to let go. But gave her the box again. I said it quiet to myself or so I thought, she asked me what I said, so I repeated it. I think it was the final straw for her, it caught her off guard. She started choking up and she said "I'll make sure she is well taken care of.". At this point that was a powerful thing to hear, I had no control left over the tears. I knew I had to leave. As I was leaving, I was trying to find a way to hold the pain and tears back to get through the crowd in the waiting room. I overheard a woman in the back say in what at the time I thought was a sarcastic tone "I didn't think it was THAT bad". That made me upset, it wasn't anger persay at the moment, maybe it was I don't know. But the other hurt was so strong I could not tell. But it afforded some small familiar emotion that I could tap to hold back everything else just long enough to get away from people. I barely remember the drive home. I know I cried alot but I do not remember the drive at all. I got home and felt so empty and alone. My baby, my little soulmate was gone. My girlfriend was over 1500 miles away. I am not a very locally social person, so I had no one to confide in, in person. I tried various means of not losing it constantly. I called her to tell her I took our baby in. I talked to people online. I tried to sleep...it all just was a mash of nothingness. I hardly remember anything in this time period up until she got home and I went to get our baby's remains. When she got home, we had a big emotional moment, no idea how long it was for. But again, a blurr. We actually got quite a bit closer due to this happening during this time period. So in a way it felt like that was a gift or something she left for both of us by her leaving. Now the day they call to tell me I can come get her remains. Oddly, a teacher for my son was talking to me on her phone and mine rings. I read the number and am like oh boy... Was fun trying to get the teacher off the phone and be able to answer the other one in time, but I pulled it off. Anyway, I quite somberly hand her the phone that the teacher is on and said I gotta go, she knew why.. This drive I don't remember anything, maybe a brief breakdown I recall but thats about it. I am sure there was some moments. I get to the office, and no one is at the counter. Again, all I see are birds. Especially ones that look like my baby did. I wasn't quite as fast to fall apart as I was the last time. I didn't even remark about it. The same girl that helped me on intake came to the counter and was like "oh, I know who you are here for." She went and got my baby. Like I said, I was able to hold myself in. I had a few days for the pain to numb a bit. But I think I went numb in general as I remember not much else in other life matters from this time. Now, mind you, I never "OK'd" the foot print cards. I forgot or was in no mind to say that I wanted those too. Honestly, I didn't think they would as I only asked for the feathers. But get this, She starts calmly and carefully handling the bag that everything is in. She pulls out the foot print card, and it hit me like a train. She actually started tearing up before I could. She then in the midst of both of us in a mutual waterworks was pulling everything out of the bag carefully. Feathers and then finally my baby girl. It was very hard on her. I was not taking it very well either. After we calmed down. she asked me something but I forget what. But I mentioned that I overheard the other woman in the back and that it sounded sarcastic or something. She said "OH noooo." That she has a hard time handling cremation and pet loss cases. That she takes everyone's loss real hard personally. and that mine was by far the hardest that ever hit her. She said she was amazed and very happy for my baby that she had someone that loved her that much. The lady was only reacting to her while holding my baby in the box as she shut the other door to the exam room and completely fell apart. I gave her a big hug and said, you are by far the absolute best customer service person I have ever met. That level of true empathy that I saw and she had even after was just amazing. I told her she is doing i right. Keep doing this. (or something like that) Now the reason I went into detail here about the vet, I feel this girl, even tho I can't name her. Needs to be honored. She was by far the most heart to heart person I have ever met in a professional place of business of any kind. Also that this vet office deserves some credit as well. Some people have negative rated them and well at least from my experience, They don't deserve those negatives. They have a pretty big chicken run and I am sure my case in this detail is highly unique. So i think there is a chance someone who works there or owns that place will see this. You guys helped me GREATLY. Thank you! As well as sorry for jumping to conclusions about what I heard. It could not have been easy for a girl like her to see a grown man of my stature and build crying like a little baby.. For hindsight into what was happening and what I id wrong and whatnot after the things I have since learned: The thing that really kicks me in the gut is, her "spooks" as I called them, or thought they were. Those were likely her feeling warm and wanting out of the bed for a bit. This thought kills me to think of. Also the water thing, her lack of water obviously caused or could have caused dehydration and organ failure right? I never really knew you could use a syringe to force water them. I didn't actually have it "click" that she needed that. Her bed I made, was totally wrong. It trapped her heat into her body. But she loved it for the most part. only a few times did she ever try to leap out and I dreadfully misinterpreted it. She was actually able to sit like a comfy chicken supported well all around her body instead of always on her hurt leg and side. A friend told me to think of it this way, it doesn't make me feel better, feels like an excuse. Lastly, it bugs the heck out of me that I was so easily able to pick up on her sore crop from gorging, without even understanding what that was and NOT understand her 2nd moment of out of character calling out. I knew she had a crop, but knew nothing of sour crop, impact crop, or that it could hurt if she over ate. It felt like a strange instinct. I have never been the same since she has been gone. I can't quite put a finger on it. But It's a cloud of darkness I can't explain. You are gone but not forgotten: Henrietta - DOB unknown - 11:30pm September 2nd 2015 Now, after this, we both had this void, the stages of grief have been hard and strong. The closeness we felt in the moment of shock and loss, has been strained repeatedly. But we got past it. We first thought we could never have another chicken. It would be too hard. We would likely and unrealistically expect any new chicken to be like her. That even if we did get another, it could not look like her. We have gone back and forth on this. Both of us would say we can't then we both would say we should. In one of the moments, we agreed to rescue a pair of mallard ducks. They were great little boys, but omg those guys are obnoxious and not well suited for our lifestyle. We carefully rehomed them to people that had free range room and one had a flock of them with a pond. Then we again thought, this is nuts we can't try to fill this emptiness, it never will be filled. Then a few weeks ago we decided we should. Each bird has their own personality and room for lots of love. As well as a need for lots of love. So she went on a quest to look for one on Craigslist and facebook. Well that turned out not so well. People place ads and never respond it seems :-/ So last week sometime I had a dream after she gave up. I had a dream that Henrietta was healthy and walking around, talkin to me in her usual way. Then the dream switched to me going to a farm that had chickens in a large run. I was able to sit in the run and wait for a bird to "choose me". I then woke up when one climbed in my lap. I told this to a friend and they said, if I believe in this kind of thing, that she was telling me it's time to move on and give that same love to another baby girl. Well it just so happens that within a day or 2, I see some random post on my local facebook group of someone selling hens. They had a farm with a large run and many to choose from Well I now have 2 new baby girls. But I wasn't able to pick them to start with. The weather here has been miserable and she couldn't have people in the run as it was very muddy and our windows of no rain are far and few. so she sent me pictures and we both picked a type we liked. I picked a Red star/Production Red (Which closely resembles my Henrietta who I think was a Red Sex-Link?) and she picked a Amber Link. Now the funny part is. We may have picked them, but they decided who was who. The Amber is always on my lap. Is one of the silliest birds i ever met. Full of life and personality. Very friendly. Yet a little skittish but not overly. She will climb all over me when she is looking to nest. She has this routine that for about the 2 to 4 hours leading up to her nesting, she is extremely close to me. Her first lay since she was here, that closeness pretty much stopped after the egg lay. and she went about her business. Now, she does it prior to the lay, then does a rather boisterous Egg Song for the Red and then for hers. Then proceeds to keep climbing in my lap and snuggling off and on Now this girl has ALOT of love in her and has my heart already. The Red, well she is a little lover too, but still quite standoffish. She is closer to my girlfriend it seems. But she did mimic the amber once and climbed in my lap and rested on my knee opposite of the amber. But, the red seems to have a few insecurities towards the amber. It seems anything the amber tries to eat or drink, the red needs to peck her away from it and take it. No idea what this is about...Pecking order? or something else? Only disheartening thing about this final outcome as of right now tho. I noticed on the night of the day we picked them up, the red has some respiratory issue. I will post that elsewhere. Anyway, I warned you this will be a life story lol. Thanks for reading if you got this far. I do hope that someone new or someone that is also as unskilled or has a broken heart from a loss can learn or get something out of my story.