I was never much of a pet person. Growing up in India, pets were not much in the thought process because of space considerations. Of course, India, and particularly, hinduism, is full of references to animals. But, for some reason, pets were not in our family equation.
So, my attitude towards pets did not change much when I came to the USA, because graduate school and long working hours were the order of priority. Some of my fellow grads had small dogs and/or cats, but I never really understood the attraction. In fact, I will never forget the time we spent the better part of a few days looking for one of my friends dogs who had somehow disappeared in Blacksburg, VA. And just as we stopped looking, he got a call from the local shelter saying that they had found his dog. Needless to say, he was overjoyed. I still didn't get it.
The Blue-Fronted Amazon
Things started changing when I met radar - my (now) father-in-law's blue-fronted amazon in 1991. My first thought was - it is cruel to keep a bird which is not allowed to fly in the home as a pet. However, the more I got around him, the more I realized that this was no ordinary bird. Radar only liked certain people, and he could only say one name - Claudia! He only took food from certain people - and for some strange reason, he developed an affection for me when he stayed over at our place one winter for a few days. I think it all started when I started feeding him peanuts and peanut butter on toast. The friendship was cemented when I found him preening my eye-lashes one morning while I was yet to get out of bed! It has been over ten years, and he still screeches - Claudia! - when he sees me walk in the door at my mother-in-law's house. I am told that he might outlive all of us. Stay tuned.
One fine day I came home from work to hear some tweeting from the upstairs loft. Cecilia informed me that we were bird owners now! The story goes that she went to the local discount store (whose owner is apparently a bird lover!) and she saw this sick parakeet who was not doing well. So, she brought it home to rescue it from certain death. Of course, she could not buy just one (it would be lonely, you know!) so she bought a companion. She even came up with their names to seal the deal - knowing that I would not get rid of anything with any remote connection to Apple/Macintosh. I knew I had married a smart woman - but this incident left no doubt.
My only condition was that they would not be clipped and allowed to fly. (I was later to learn that this could be dangerous for them). So, you can imagine my shock when I first saw Mac chase Tasha head-first into the glass doors leading onto the patio! But, I was also amazed at how quickly they learnt not to fly into the doors - they quickly discovered that it was much less painful to land on the curtain rods instead. And so they flew with abandon in our home with vaulted ceilings and we would find them on top of fans, curtain rods, banisters and in the skylights! For some reason, they never went into the kitchen - which was a blessing indeed. We had some interesting times trying to get them back in their cage when we knew that company was coming. Not everybody is entertained by parakeets flying around their heads and buzzing their ears, ya know!
This began my long affair (still continuing) with parakeets. Inspired by her daughter, my mother-in-law decided to buy four of her own to give some company to radar. Of course, they were more for her own entertainment, but lets not split hairs now. We added two of our own (rescued by their knight in shinng armor - my wife!) over the next couple of years. One weekend, we had eight parakeets flying around in our condominium - I distinctly remember coming home and they were all perched on the christmas lights that we had strung out for Diwali - the Indian festival of lights.
It was only a matter of time until one of our dahlings got under the weather. Birds have this incredible ability to hide their illnesses, until they are really sick. We found this to be true time and again with our parakeets, and it was painful to see them pass on. We tried everything - from taking them to the best bird vet in Cleveland to treating them with antibiotics and medication. But when it was time for them to go, they went fast. So, after the first couple of them, we just tried to make them comfortable. As of January 2005, we have two left. Incredibly, the one that started it all, Tasha, has outlived all of them - at nine years old and going strong!
Eaglet - The Fiesty Senegal
text to be added soon
Kaylie - The Noisy Lovebird
text to be added soon
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Created Jan 08 2005 by Kumud Ajmani