The agony of the decision…yesterday morning (10/29/15), I received a call from Craig, who works at a GMC dealership in Plymouth, and he informed me of a Mute Swan that had apparently hit a square metal box light pole the previous day, and had been laying in a neighboring business parking lot since. Fortunately, I was able to swing over there within the hour in my attempt to rescue him. By the time I had arrived, the gentle giant of a creature had been resting between several vehicles. I had asked Craig to go to the front of the opening, as I proceeded to the rear, in the effort to box him in. I have dealt with swans before, and although I believe that they are inherently gentle, they can become powerfully aggressive if they feel threatened, especially if they are injured (like most creatures, including man). However, he just turned to me, raised his head and gave a loud hiss, as if to ask ‘where have you been?’. I had set my net over his large frame, realizing that this was completely unnecessary, due to his lethargic condition. I reached down, gently cradling his massive body (typically, 4-5 times the weight and size of a large duck) in my arms and carried him back to the large carrier in my truck. I laid him in with little resistance, with his once powerful wing wanting to fall lifelessly to the cement below. Once home, I readied a 6×10 enclosure for his comfort, lined with a pile of fresh straw, water and food, while I then tried to find a vet that could see him immediately. With luck, and always a prayer, Countryside Veterinary in Pinckney, was able to see him in the early evening. For the next few hours, I monitored his movements in the pen, as he seemed to become more comfortable, drinking occasionally, and picking at the food, usually a good sign, although, being the overt optimist, I had reservations about a positive outcome, due to the severity of the injury. His wing had originally been turned 180 degrees forward, before I carefully returned it to its normal position. I soaked the open area with scarlet oil spray to help cleanse and prevent the intrusion of foreign invaders. I felt certain that this handsome behemoth would never soar through the skies as was his birthright.
On a side note: the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), despises this breed of swan, the Mute Swan (unlike it’s counterpart, the Trumpeter Swan, a native species), claiming that it is an invasive species that is overly aggressive, and must be killed, close to extinction. More on this at a less somber time.
Finally at the vet, Dr. Hines immediately noticed the compound fracture of the humerus bone, just above the ulna and radius bones. Her prognosis for even a fair quality of life, (which was met with my unspoken denial, even though I had a heartfelt belief of nothing better from the onset), was questionable. How could such a majestic creature, on land, in the water, and especially in the air, just one day ago, suddenly become so ‘irrelevant’ in the overall scheme of nature. The options were now before me: should I (and why was it that “I” was the one being given this heart wrenching decision to make, even knowing that this decision was in the Heavens long before this day ever began) put this angel into eternal sleep? It could be possible to amputate the wing, knowing he would never take flight. He would also never be able to swim proudly and majestically again. His imbalance, by the complete loss of the wing at his body, would be his lifelong torment, if infection did not befall him first. I am certain that he has a mate, What kind of eternal mental stress would he endure, knowing that he could never find and protect his mate forever more, as they mate for life? And the cons continued, while the pros were one. He could be alive, but at what cost to his pride, from dominant to submissive…in his world, that is how they live, and why they live, there is order…. and when there is no order, there is no life. I teared as I sat alone with him (as I tear know, recalling), ‘me’, deciding ‘his’ fate, how unfair, though life IS that way. I truly feel that God placed this beautiful angel in my arms yesterday for that very reason…to hold his gentle head in my comforting hands, and lay it gently on his precious body as he ascended to become whole again, with his Heavenly creator…as another tear fell.