Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Sunday, August 12, 2012
By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Accent Editor
I loved them both, and I introduced them to each other.
Now my husband and my bird are a happy duo, and I am the tolerated third wheel.
However, that’s what all the bird books warn you, when it comes to an African Grey parrot.
I’ve had Andre for 12 years, and he may live for another 40. Getting a bird literally is a lifetime obligation.
African greys are considered the most intelligent of all parrots. You may have heard of Alex, the African Grey Dr. Irene Pepperberg studied. She documented him using more than 150 words in context, even to answer questions.
My Andre doesn’t have that many words, but he is a lot of fun to have around. He lives in a large cage, the door of which remains open. He usually just likes to sit on top or on a perch outside it, making occasional forays around the room.
My pets made the the first few months of our marriage a little awkward for me — and a real headache for my husband. The birds would wake up every morning before he did and begin their chatter.
That would wake him up ... not in a good mood. “Those *$&% birds!” usually were his first words each day.
Then one day Andre started calling out my husband’s name, and speaking in my husband’s accent.
My husband was hooked.
Later, my husband started doing more household chores to help me out in the exhausting early months of pregnancy. That included tending to the birds’ food and water.
Gradually, those two started developing a friendly relationship. Andre, who doesn’t like people to touch him, loves for my husband to handle him and ruffle his feathers.
Andre will lean over to me as if he wants me to pet him, but usually when I do, he rushes in for a bite. I think the beckon is just a trick.
The bird books and articles warn that of all creatures, African greys are known to be fickle. You can care for one for all of its 50 or so years, but you can’t make it love you. The African Grey loves whom it wants to love, and nothing can change that.
Stories tell of African Greys who just love an occasional visitor to their home. It’s not that they hate their caretakers; they just save their love for that special someone. For some Greys, that can mean going weeks or even months between getting to see the object of their affection.
Fortunately for Andre, his beloved is right here in the house.
I don’t feel bad about it because I knew to expect that when I got him. It’s just an honor to have such a majestic creature in the house, and a challenge to keep him interested and occupied, by such things as space to move around in and different toys to divert him.
Andre is a reminder that we may own our pets’ bodies, but we’ll never own their souls.