I leave home for five days, and look what happens:
Two days in, as I think I reported previously, Gladys Chicken died. She had been feeling poorly and in low spirits, so I was not surprised to hear the news.
Two mornings later, though, Patrick went out to feed the Girls and found Blodwyn in the same spot, back behind the roosting box. Or he found Blodwyn´s small brown body.
So no more will we find her striding softly down the hall, intoning her soft chicken chant and jerking her floppy-combed dinosaur head in search of the dogfood dish. Blod was one of our original six hens, the most intelligent and companionable of them all. She laid her share of eggs, took her turn at ruling the chicken roost, and introduced us to the joy and rewards of hen ownership. It seems very silly to say it, but I loved that chicken. I will miss her.
And just when it seemed safe to go back to the chicken coop, Paddy found Murphy Cat back there on Saturday afternoon. How he got over the wall is a mystery, and he was howling and hungry and skinny as a rail – ten days of doing god-knows-what had left him a ragged mess. Paddy gave him catfood and milk and kidneys to eat, and a good looking-over. He´s hurt, Paddy told me on the phone. Something wrong with his hind legs. Prepare yourself for the worst, he said – he may need to be euthanized.
I came home on Monday, a gloomy cloudy day. The dogs were ecstatic, of course. And Murph was slung across his bed on the salon floor with food and water and a makeshift litterbox close by, taking his ease. He let himself be felt-up and examined closely.
He was hit by a car, I think.
His left rear leg is broken right in the middle of his shin – I could feel the loose bone inside. There´s a healed-up cut in his skin there, too. The entire leg dangles, limp, from its joint. His right front paw is twice as wide as the left. The skin is torn a bit, and his “thumbnail” is permanently exposed. The paw was, apparently, smashed flat.
But he walks, shimmying, from the living room to the salon. He uses his litter box, he shouts for food and water, he cuddles Una and smacks Tim. On Sunday he made it out into the patio for a sunbath. Watching him walk is horrifying – his lithe and perfect feline body now moves like an un-strung marionette, with elbows jutting outward and feet dragging backward. It´s heartbreaking.
I started to cry as I held him, imagining how much pain he must be feeling. He just looked up at me and meowed, and pushed his head up against my hand for a scratch. I am a Grade 1 animal scratcher, beloved of cats, dogs, horses, ferrets and all other scratch-seeking creatures, so of course I started in under his chin with my best kitty-rub technique.
And Murphy purred like a Rolls-Royce.
Today the vet said Murph´s vital systems are just fine – he does not have to die. His smashed paw should heal on its own, and it had better, as there´s really nothing to be done about it. But that back leg is a compound fracture. It´s done-for. It will require surgery – not something he can do there in the little office in Sahagun. So off we go back to the university veterinary clinic in Leon tomorrow, with yet another animal with a hopeless hind leg.
People are going to start wondering about this place, where 3/5 of the residents walk with a limp and the veterinary hospital knows us by our first names.
Me and Tim had better watch our steps. And stay the heck away from the hen house.
And forget about vacations, even short ones.