Igor developed quite a fan base over the years he was with me and it broke my heart to share the news that Igor had passed away peacefully. However, as does every animal, he has a story that deserves to be told and so here it is.
Due to him having half a leg missing I named him after one of the geese from the movie Fly Away Home (one of my childhood favourites about a girl who raises a flock of geese and teaches them to fly).
“Igor is the name given to one of Amy’s rescued Canada geese. He was born with a limp and always lingered behind the flock. Her uncle David proposed the name Igor, inspired by Frankenstein’s assistant. Amy liked it, and the name stuck. Igor often stayed behind during lifts off, and had to be pushed to fly away. He came back on his own the following Spring.”
Igor arrived in terrible condition in 2014. I took him straight to the vet who said he didn’t think he was going to survive. He had had no UV light and was dangerously thin. He was missing half a leg, several toes and the end of his tail. I was advised to keep him comfortable and feed him whatever he would eat. The vet gave him weeks to live at best.
I installed a proper lighting and it took him 3 days to stop hiding from it. Gradually though he started to put weight on and the 2 month window he was given passed. He never wanted to eat vegetables or fruit (like a mature beardie is supposed to eat!). Instead, he insisted on eating crickets and wax worms. Now I am not one for this but I was going to do anything to help this dragon return to his full glory.
Many years before, he had been bought by someone, along with another male. Bearded dragons are extremely territorial and will fight (often to the death) to defend their space from another male. Poor Igor had lost the end of his tail and his right foot before the owner realised this was a bad idea and re-homed him. The lady who took him on really did care for him but did not know how to look after him. He was suffering without proper lighting. A beardie needs correct lighting to digest food and calcium properly. This poor dragon was not getting any calcium and as a result had lost several toes due to them being so brittle and breaking. He was also scarily thin. What is worrying is she was only re-homing him because she had got a dog and didn’t have time for him anymore. I dread to think how long he would have continued to suffer had he had stayed there.
He was 5 years old when I got him and those 5 years must have been incredibly painful.
So a few months after he arrived, I realised he was not only still alive but a completely different dragon! He had colour in his body, he had put weight on and he had felt real sunshine for the first time in his life!
My Igor had fought back and won. He had some quirks which he never lost…he rarely hunted and would often wait to be hand fed. He struggled on that missing front leg and so, although he enjoyed a hunt, he really struggled to hunt properly. He often refused to eat unless I fed him…so for the friends that looked after him for me on my rare time away and he ate…feel special!
He danced at the door to his tank when he wanted to come out and have a wander (which he always knew he could) and he often sat on my shoulder or sunbathed while I studied.
The most special part of our friendship was when I started being greeted by him in the morning with the bearded dragon greeting of a head bob. Occasionally he even waved at me!
And so we lived happily ever after. I decided he had been through enough and he would stay here for the rest of his life. He had been given weeks to live and there we were nearly 3/4 years later. He has moved house with me, he featured on my video pitch to secure funding for Pawsitivity, he attended events to promote good and responsible pet care, he has been an ambassador for animal adoption and his story will forever be a reminder that owning pets is a PRIVILEGE not a right. Do not underestimate the work, dedication and love required. Be honest with yourself before you bring an animal into your life if you can be what they need…they don’t choose you remember.
Igor, my handsome dragon, I have never met an animal who deserved his wings more. It aches that to get your wings you had to leave me behind but I am so grateful I got to show you that there is love in this world. I am glad I took your pain away. I am glad you didn’t die as a result of neglect but peacefully, all wrapped up in love. I am glad you experienced love and laughter and enjoyed life.
Now Igor, fly away home.