Choosing to Live with Companion Animals
Companion Parrots look for entertainment.
She called out with great fury warning all who could hear her. Eyes pinning, Racoon Warning Alarm System on full blast peeling paint off walls. Butters let her beak direct dad to the invading raccoon and the worst of it. Being dramatic is entertaining. She knows this.
We shall call him Vincenzo, after the infamous jewel thief. Vincenzo, criminal raccoon, stole one egg. While Marie, our nest sitting Muscovy duck, hollered the rest of the flock to defensive positions. Our deck was full of ducks ready for battle. Vincenzo knew where the gems were now. That night he returned and ransacked the rest of the nest. Marie was left with dry empty eggshells the following morning, and a forced decision to nest elsewhere.
Companion dogs look for business.
I knew we were going to have to deal with this guy sooner or later. Angus and I met him a week earlier in the dark, behind the house while Angus took his last sabbatical for the day. Vincenzo saw Angus first, but not first enough. I was dragged twenty feet by Angus introducing himself to Vincenzo. Chasing him up the tallest punk tree. I'm sure the neighbors enjoyed the bellowing Catahoula Hound at 10:30 at night. I know I enjoyed skiing behind a 70-pound dog. That was invigorating. The Spanish moss and probable baby spiders in my hair at the end of the run was a spoiler. But beggars can't be choosers.
Cleaning up after 11 Companion Animals is job security.
You know the first 15 minutes of cleaning cages where you are moving parrots to temporary quarters and dismantling toys, cages, and tree stands? In those first 15 minutes, where you only see the work ahead, and no end yet, the mind wanders. What am I doing here? Is this my life? Am I crazy? I could be (insert awesome liberating hobby here). This will never end. This will not stay clean after we're done. Wow! There's a lot of space in this house when there aren't bird cages. I could have a beautiful bookshelf there. I can see out my windows that have become macaw viewing windows. Those are great views.
Bird poop chalk drawings around dead furniture bodies.
Dog nose prints and snot smears on windows. I didn't see those because of the bird cages.
The driveway fills with cages, tree stands, and parrot paraphernalia. This is industrial cleaning. A husband's burden. Mine is in the house. Sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, wall washing, dusting, and nose prints. I stand center at minute 14 of the event. Gut checking this whole obsession. And one lone voice calls out, "Hi!"
It's the call she uses when she's nervous. It has a question mark behind it. I take Butters, our blue and gold macaw, out and love on her, sniff her feathers, preen her, receive her kisses and rub her belly. Felix, African Grey, shouts, "It's all right!", and chuckles. I give Butters a cashew and place her back into her temporary cage next to Snickers' temporary cage. I give Snickers a cashew. "HUH?" He's always shocked when I give out cashews. Male scarlet macaws are cynical.
Two dogs follow me through the room making sure I don't forget about them if I should happen to take a break and eat cheese.
Choosing to live a companion animal lifestyle is no different than choosing to raise a family. Love is love. With or without a thieving egg eating raccoon named Vincenzo.
Did I mention the rabbit?
I live alone and all the chores are mine and at 73 it can feel like a burden. However I also have one who cheers me on. First he says “loud noise” which is his code for anything that makes him nervous the vac,a stranger or me rolling his cage. It’s followed quickly by “ it’s alright, it’s ok “ this is his self comforting. My loves who greet me in the morning, keep me posted all day and sing or rhyme at bedtime. It would be very quiet without them. If you have any cleaning tips that would make a great post!
Karen Sheridan on