A third of a century is a long time for a pet dove -- meet the one that's in Woodstock

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Sandy Profeta, with her thirty-three-year-old dove. Profeta says there are a number of important steps for enabling a dove to live over three decades - quite an unusual span.  When Woodstock resident Sandy Profeta acquired the parents of her thirty-three-year-old ring-necked dove, she was told that their life span might be three years. Instead, they lived sixteen and thirty-one years, respectively.

The offspring dove of that pair, named Siochain, which is Gaelic for "peace", was hatched in Profeta's house. Now at thirty-three years, he has what Profeta says is "a quality of life that is very good, which is why he's still around."

We all know that good care can keep people alive and vital into later years. And the same is true for pets. For Profeta, "Sio", as she nicknamed him, is her companion and "offspring" (she has no children) which she lovingly cares for. She says Sio's long life can be attributed to "genes, a good vet, and good nursing care at home."

What exactly is "good nursing care" for a homebound dove?

Profeta reports that, a quarter century ago when Sio fell off a tower of orange crates, he knocked the lens loose on one eye, as was diagnosed by the vet. As a consequence, he has been blind in his right eye for twenty-five years. He purportedly can see only light with that eye. Nothing could be done for the eye, but Profeta was thankful for the expert diagnosis.

Then a year ago he fell during the night from a window ledge (he lives in a room without a cage), and broke his right wing and right leg. After a few days in a veterinary hospital he returned home to live in an aquarium bowl for eight weeks. The vet suggested the aquarium as an abode with smooth and constricting walls which would allow for healing. He got through the ordeal with constant care from Profeta, who claims of Sio, "he's a tough old bird."

Good care also means paying close attention to heat and cold in the bird's environment. In the winter, a heat lamp allows Sio to choose to be warm or not. In the summer, finding the coolest spot in the house is essential for Sio's survival, which can mean Profeta letting him rest on newspaper on a table downstairs. Ring-necked doves are affectionate and not very noisy, so having Sio as a constant companion is a pleasure, smiles Profeta.

Good genes for Sio came from his mother and father who, as mentioned, lived under Profeta's care for sixteen and thirty-one years respectively. Dove longevity typically ranges from fifteen to twenty years, but Sio has long passed that.

A good vet for the dove has been found in Dr. Marli Lintner, who has been in practice in Lake Oswego for thirty-five years. Her practice, called the Avian Medical Center, is exclusively for birds. Profeta says Lintner knows what to prescribe for Sio's heart, liver, and arthritic conditions… If only all humans could have that kind of care!

Lintner tells Profeta that room for lots of flying exercise is key for keeping the bird's kidneys from atrophying. Sio has the flying space in a long room upstairs.

Another condition that Lintner says is important for birds' comfort is to have some sound in their environment. Silence often signals danger for birds, who have evolved to be quiet when a predator is at bay. So, Profeta provides Sio with a YouTube version of music and birdcalls.

When Sio recently went to the Avian Medical Center for boarding, while Profeta and her husband were on a trip, he was well cared for. "They baby him when he's in boarding, because he's so special. He's quite the celebrity over there," reports Profeta proudly.

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