It's been a difficult week.
We arrived home from our youngest son's graduation to find Lulu very sick.
She appeared fine while we were away, but began showing signs of sickness the day we arrived home. I knew something was wrong when I went into the coop and Lulu didn't run away. Her flighty feistiness has been her defining trademark.
After several calls and a visit to The Camden Pet Hospital, with chicken specialist Dr. Cynthia Fetzer, she was diagnosed with coccidiosis, a protozoan parasite that affects many animals. It's often not serious, but Lulu already had a compromised intestinal tract, which made it a serious condition for her.
She became so weak I resorted to hand feeding her for three days with a special bird nutrient and gave her electrolytes to boost her fluids, but her system was failing rapidly. After 24 hours of medication her body temperature was 108.5ºF, far above a chicken's normal 103ºF.
Late in the day on Friday I reconciled myself to the fact that she wasn't getting any better and drove her to the vet for the final time. She laid her head on my chest as the sedative began taking effect and we said our goodbyes.
I like to think of her at her best: high-strung, chattering, and in charge. She'd mellowed a little over the three years from the frenetic chick that I named Crazy Lulu, but she still had attitude.
I feel fortunate she shared her life with me.