Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My bird, Toots...

We used to have 2 parrots, Winnie and Toots, who came to live with us in 1988 and 1989, respectively. Winnie passed away last year, sadly, but Toots lives on and is a relatively young 21 years old. "The girls" have always had a strong sense of self-preservation, especially with cats and dogs. They were always tolerant of the house pets as long as they kept their distance, but woe betide the critter who approached the cage. Ungodly shrieks, groans, screams and wing flapping have frightened each in our long string of 4 footed family members into keeping a respectful distance. The screaming then died down, unless the animal was bold enough to get too close again.Toots is perhaps more protective of her safety now that Winnie is gone.

For little Max, however, they made an exception.

Max is a 55 pound Lab/Shepherd/something with a curly tail ball of energy and excitement.When he came to live with us at the age of 6months, he immediately approached the cage - - and the parrots seemed fine with it. Never screamed, never threatened. They allowed him to stick his head in when I had the door open, and they even seemed to throw food out just for him. As a pup, he even put his paws on the side of the cage to get close enough for a sniff. The response has ever been one of benign tolerance. After Winnie died, Toots has remained friendly. Max is permitted to stand right up against the cage while he looks out the window - never gets chased or nipped (I say "nipped", but it's really a full out "chomp"). I guess I thought she'd mellowed.


This week, we have a house-guest - a very friendly, quiet, mild-mannered hound named Bella - about 2 years old and somewhat interested in what's in the cage. Not aggressively interested, just curious. Is this permitted? No, it is not. Toots growls, snarls, screams, and makes threatening wing flapping gestures every time sweet Bella approaches. She walks away and it stops. Max walks up alone to eat the kibble off the floor and Toots is quiet, almost friendly. I know Toots is a small creature and very concerned about self-preservation - who could blame her? - so I shouldn't laugh. I think she can tell the difference between me laughing with her and at her. It is pretty funny, though. Bella comes to me for reassurance that she's still an ok dog. Once she gets a pat, she tries again. I think she's finally given up now and will simply stay out of the sunroom. Toots sits in the sun on her perch and shreds vegetables. All is right.

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