Annabel’s Stone

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As I mentioned in my last post, we had to euthanize our chicken Anne over Christmas. She was ill and we took her to the NCSU Vet Hospital. They were kind and compassionate during the whole process. We got to stay with Anne while they administered the lethal drugs, and they even told us they would just send the bill so we wouldn’t have to worry about it on our way out all red-eyed.

They scheduled an autopsy and told us that afterward either they could cremate the body for collective burial with other animals or we could have Anne’s cremains returned to us for a charge. Well, my mind flitted briefly over the idea of burying little Annabel next to Victoria’s Stone by the Japanese maple. (We still say hallo to Victoria when we walk by.) Though I felt a vague lack of closure with no body to bury, having cremains sent to us seemed too much fuss over a chicken.

The vet’s office called us the next day with preliminary autopsy results (at that point Marek’s, a viral disease, was suspected) and said it would take a few weeks to get the final report. A couple weeks later the bill came in a simple plain no. 11 envelope. A second larger envelope also arrived. It seemed an odd shape, but I assumed it would be the autopsy results.

When I opened the package I found a burgundy, sheer mesh, drawstring gift bag. It held a plaque similar to those that kindergartners make for their parents. You know the kind—soft clay or plaster of Paris with a handprint and a name and year etched in with a toothpick. Only this plaque had a chicken footprint in it along with a little red heart and the name ANNE in stamped letters. Enclosed was a card with handwritten notes from the vet and staff.

My goodness you could have knocked me over with a feather—and not a sturdy wing feather or tail feather. One of those downy little chick feathers would have felled me.

There it was: Annabel’s Stone.

Anne_footprint

Annabel’s Stone

Many thanks to Dr. Bethany Walters and the staff and students at NC State Vet Hospital. My husband and I were grateful for the memorial, but even more touched by the kind thoughts and compassion that went into making it for us.

A few weeks ago we got the results of the microscopic autopsy. The cause of Anne’s illness ended up not being Marek’s but rather oviductal adenocarcinoma (cancer), which had also spread to several other organs. Getting the final autopsy results reminded me I hadn’t finished the story. And now I have.

What do you think? Best vet ever?

8 thoughts on “Annabel’s Stone

  1. Erin

    I work at an animal hospital in Burlington and we do this as well. It’s such a nice reminder of our furry and feathered babies that we get to keep. I have a paw print from my dog that passed.

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  2. Chris

    I found your story from the Vet School’s sharing on Facebook. We went through a gut-wrenching 26 hrs trying to save our kitty over New Year’s, and were shocked to receive the stone not long after her passing. It is such a beautiful way to keep some part of your baby. I even noticed that the claw points were just barely visible and remembered she had her nails trimmed a few days prior. I am still in awe of the compassion displayed by the staff at NCSU’s CVM.

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    • Oh, I’m sorry about your kitty, Chris, and thank you so much for commenting. I am glad the story is getting shared–we were just so moved by the thoughtfulness, we really wanted people to know how compassionate they are at the NCSU vet hospital–they are teaching the students some good lessons.

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