December 27, 2012

Vinny's Vacation at the Vet

Since my girlfriend (Vinny's mommy) is American, we went on vacation to the USA, visiting family for Thanksgiving. I'm a big fan of her family (love ya all!), but another great reason for me was to go for all the foods that we don't really have here in the Netherlands, including the all famous Thanksgiving Turkey. We had Grilled, Baked and Deep-fried and it was GOOD!

Obviously, it seems a bit weird to talk about eating birds, while this blog IS about a (pet) bird. However, I can see Vinny imitate the gobble-gobble of a turkey, but I don't see a turkey greet us and laugh at/with us and say Coca Cola, and sit on my shoulder watching tv with us. That's the difference and that's nature.

Before we got Vinny, we did our research on boarding for Vinny, since obviously you can't take anything with feathers from Europe to the States. And even if it was possible, having to buy a full ticket for a bird that weighs around 420 grams (almost 15 ounces), seems a bit excessive.

So we chose to give Vinny another safe home for the 17 days that we were gone. Surprisingly, the solution was only half an hour drive away, and cost a mere 5 euros per day. Very reasonable price, compared to bird-boarding in the USA, or for cats/dogs anywhere. And it is at the local bird-expert vet.

The Vet: Dierenziekenhuis & hotel Drachten. Photo source:

This was truly a test for us. We've only had him for 8 months, but we've never left him behind for more than half a day, let alone with strangers. We weren't afraid that anything was going to happen to our boy, just that he might scream all day, cause a few bite wounds here and there or be a holy hell terror for the 2 weeks. Obviously, if that would happen, we'd be extra anxious to bring him there next time, or leave him behind anywhere, for that matter.

We prepped everything. We had 17 days of his special bean mix, a baggie of pellets, some fresh fruit, a handful of toys and a short document with some basic instructions. Okay, we may have gone a bit overboard with that last one. It was 2 pages describing his feeding pattern, his general behavior, his vocabulary and emergency contact information. They probably had a few giggles over that, but we didn't care.

Charlie & Darwin
We left him behind. We said our goodbyes. We closed the door. What was done, was done. No turning back now. Next day, we were on a plane across an ocean and left our buddy for life behind with strangers.

During our stay in the States, especially the first few days, we joked about calling in to see how he was doing. I had to put my foot down several times to prevent my girlfriend from calling. Especially with the 2 page manifest on Vinny-care, I didn't want to seem like the typical over-concerned parent.

Just for your information: the budgie-duo Charlie and Darwin were housed at my parents for a total of 3 weeks and of course they were treated like royalty with fresh fruits and veggies every day and lots and lots of attention, including from my niece and nephew who were over almost every day to say hi to them. They even had a room with a view!

Then, it was time. We came back home on a Monday morning, and went to pick up Vinny that same afternoon.

Immediately after checking in at the vet's front desk, we heard that everything went great and it turned out that everyone of the vet's staff loved Vinny. They took him out of the cage to fly around a bit, he had a lot of company, he was the sweetest bird ever, didn't bite, didn't growl, didn't scream ... a true model bird! No signs of his earlier biting stage he went through, no signs of upcoming puberty, no signs of general bad behavior whatsoever.

As you can imagine, we were very relieved! We raised Vinny well, so far. And now we feel confident that whenever we do want or need to go travelling, we can easily leave our pet behind.

Vinny after he took a shower back at home
And of course Vinny was very happy to see us as well. It took mere seconds for him to recognize us, and to welcome us back in his life with the usual chatter and other cute sounds. I swear I recognized a huge smile on his candy-corn beak. Thank you to the whole staff of Dierenziekenhuis Drachten and to my parents for taking such good care of our winged ones!

Passed, with flying colors!

Do you have any experiences with boarding your bird, any stories that stick out? Good or bad? Feel free to let us know by commenting!

The pictures of the birds are ours (also the grilled one). Other picture courtesy of Dierenziekenhuis Drachten (the vet, from their excellent website).