This is the story of Fluffy (aka MC Fluff ‘n Stuff, aka The Flusterclucker), a permanent resident of Finders Keepers Animal Sanctuary.
Fluffy came to us as a young chick with symptoms of lameness in one leg, which rapidly progressed to severe tremors and intermittent paralysis in both legs. We suspected a virus, either Marek’s disease or avian encephalomyelitis (epidemic tremor). She became very weak, extremely uncoordinated, and several times had to be suspended in a sling to prevent her from injuring herself as her tiny body fought for life. We did not expect her to survive. These types of neurological syndromes are not treatable.
We resigned ourselves to loving her, keeping her company, and hand-feeding her whatever she would eat. If she didn’t make it, at least she would have some measure of dignity and would not be trampled or pecked by other birds, or become easy prey for a predator.
Fluffy taught us a lot about perseverance over the following months, as she recovered and relapsed several times. She never gave up, and we followed her lead. She never complained or freaked out about the random unfairness of her struggle. She endured it, gracing all who came near her with goodwill. She always greeted us with curious little tweets and trills, and later, proper clucks. We sang the Beatles’ song “Blackbird” to her. We held her a lot. We gave her vitamins and warm baths and carried her around in a basket. And ever so slowly, she improved.
Fluffy has been with us just over a year now. She still has a bit of a wobble from time to time, but for the most part, she gets around like a normal hen and does normal hen things: flapping, hopping, scratching, squawking, cackling, and even running! She loves blueberries and cat treats. She converses freely with children, adults, dogs, other birds, and even cats.
She may have some lasting neurological damage to her body, but her spirit is flawless.