Two Indian Ringneck Parakeets perched on a tree in a jungle.

Communication is Listening First

Communication is Listening First

Our companion animals all have a bit of DNA that retains their wild side. We need to listen to their wild opinions as much as their companion ones.

Snickers and I have gone through many exercises to get him from bedroom roost post to shower stall over the years. He's still got a thread of wild in him. He won't go to the bathroom in his bedroom cage. In the wild, parrots wait as a natural defense choice to hide from predators. But that's 10 hours of waiting. His first poop is the worst. He needs to be in the shower area for me.

I tried all the "tricks" of behavior modification, and he was having none of it consistently. I look back and realize I stumbled backwards into training rather than forward into conversation. Because I was lazy, in a scheduled place in time and needed to get on with it. I arrogantly applied the "Hey, I got better things to do than this." theory. Bottom line: I was dismissive of his preferences. I admit it. Because none of us get all this right all the time. Snickers and I clumsily lived with each other through his morning first poop thing every day. I was the clumsy one, not him.

I can see how this particular transition felt so foreign to him now. I never used tricks in any other setting for any other reason ever. And now I'm all target training, operant conditioning him? I'm pretty sure he was delivering the Eye of Disdain there for a bit, but I was far too impatient to even get that signal. Then one recent morning, a day I had zero plans except to just "be", he and I connected clearly. I had opened all the cages for the morning transitioning. Everyone comes out on their own cage, at their own pace and posts on their cage doors. Kirby follows me into the bathroom while I finish my morning routine of teeth brushing and face washing. He project manages from the hand towel holder. He's quite helpful.

I hear a kerplunk behind me and look around to find Snickers hanging from the bathroom door frame upside down. He's laughing in his dad's voice. I laugh at him. He's hilarious. He lets one foot go and hangs sideways and chews a toe. "HUH?" he says in my voice. He hangs from both feet now looking at me from between the legs and above his butt. There is no way you cannot laugh at this sight. I'm laughing hard. "HUH!" he whispers with a chuckle in my voice.
Huh, is right. I walked over and asked him, "What exactly are you doing knucklehead?" and offered my right hand. He stepped right on and steered us leaning into the bathroom and around the corner to the shower stall.

Clouds parted, lights go on and a boxing ring bell rings. Why hadn't I just simply gone about MY business and allowed him to go about his business until he asked for his last business? I'll never know the real answer to that except I am only human. Every morning since I just go about making the bed, brushing my teeth and washing my face. He will kerplunk onto the door frame and say good morning when he's ready.

I also realized that he prefers to stay with his finished work just a moment longer, and when stepping up on my hand he also prefers to gaze at his creation. For just a second. I suppose, much like a great artist, he wants to pause and take in his finished works.

Every one of us has our own successful ways delivered at our own comfort levels to be sure. End of day we all want our companions happy, stress free, and enjoying the life we can give them. 

Companions require communication first. Which requires us to listen first. Snickers and I hadn't been communicating at all, because I was never really listening.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Leave a comment

* Required fields