The Five Hundred Dollar Parakeet
I always wanted a pet bird, preferably
a parrot, as I wanted to teach him to speak. I decided to start small to make
sure I could care appropriately for a bird, and that I would enjoy him/her as much as I thought. I purchased a book about parakeets. After reading about
this species, I decided to purchase one. I went to a pet sore, picked out a bird with lots of stripes (young birds have stripes
covering their head down to their beaks), and brought him home-cage, bird, and supplies in hand. I worked on hand taming him several times a day, and spent many hours calling his name in hopes he would
repeat it. As the days and weeks passed I began to notice his beak was growing
at a tremendous rate and was actually looking a little deformed. I contacted
a vet familiar with birds, and took him for an exam. Much to my surprise, the
vet diagnosed mites which had infested his beak. He would need topical treatments
and beak clippings for many weeks. My $13.99 parakeet turned into a five hundred
dollar bird. Murph (the bird’s name-which he did learn to say) lived to
the ripe old age of nine and a half. After his first year of squeaking and squawking
while getting clipped and treated, his “beak growth settled” and he went back to being a parakeet with a normal
beak. Incidentally, he was a Joan Jett fan and would dance about the cage whenever
her music was played.
© Dana Smith-Mansell 2005
Sometimes...It Just Happens
With animals anything can happen! As my husband and I sat relaxing in the living room one Sunday morning, the calm and
quiet of the morning was broken by Trevar’s “chipmunk alert cry” at the patio door. This alerted Hanna and Darby, and off the sofa they bounced, scrambling to get through the kitchen across
the laminate floor to reach “the call” and assist. Unfortunately in their frenzy, they collided as they hit the floor, and Darby was impaled against the corner
of the cabinet. A screeching soulful cry was expelled, and we saw she could barely
stand- her body twisting and writhing in pain. Darby was a very stoic dog and
I never heard her cry-but she was moaning in agony. I stood frozen as I looked
at her as she twisted her head upward and cried. As I knelt beside her, she fell
over-I knew this was an emergency.
In this day and age it still amazes me that our area, which hosts quite a few veterinary clinics, does not have emergency
veterinary services. They all refer clients and emergencies (after office hours,
some during office hours) to emergency clinics which are thirty to fifty miles away.
So here we are with a dog in tremendous pain, and no where to go quickly. In
vain I attempted to call local vets. I was unsure what was wrong-was it her back,
her legs, her neck? All I did know was that we needed to get her somewhere, and
Call after call I received a recorded message referring me to clinics miles away.
I grew frustrated as my calls went unanswered and my dog lay in agony. Suddenly I remembered the small clinic
my family took our pets to many many years ago. I had not been to their practice
in some time, and I heard they weren’t taking new clients, but I had to try.
As my heart raced and the phone rang, I suddenly heard a live voice. I
explained who I was and what had happened. This wonderful doctor, said he remembered
me and to “bring her in right away.” I felt a little relief.
We arrived at the clinic and the doctor graciously met us at the door. After
a brief exam, he felt she had dislocated her hip, but wanted to do further tests. He
kept her for four days attempting to keep her hip in place, but it would not stay. We
finally had to seek an orthopedic doctor.
This is the kind of veterinary care we used to receive. I hadn’t
been to his practice in years, it was a day when there weren’t official business hours, and yet he took us in and helped
our Darby. We remain very grateful to Dr. Fridirici of Brunswick Animal Hospital-he
saved both Darby and us from a long painful journey to someone unknown.
An accident that happened. The dogs have scrambled many times across that
floor without incident, but this one time, it was disastrous. We now have throw
rugs all over the floor, and if we had to do it again, we would not have that type of flooring with pets. We are fortunate that Darby recovered almost one hundred percent and is able to run and play with the other
© Dana Smith-Mansell edited
from longer version of same title, 2005
Pets & Children-Mutual Respect. Read this article.
Keep it simple and short. Begin teaching
any new trick or skill with brief lessons
throughout the day.
2. Patience. Make sure you are not overly tired.
One bad training session can set your dog back.
your dog needs repetition to understand.
Use the same words and actions each time you train.
4. Reward! Reward! Reward! For every small or large
success. Your dog needs to know when he/she is
performing correctly. Make a big fuss and you'll
reap big rewards!
The Compassion of a Dog
Shane was a Scottish terrier and took great
pride in guarding his domain. He loved to sit on the porch (tied of course) and
enjoyed guarding the house. One morning we heard a commotion outside where Shane
was sitting. As we approached the door, we saw the neighbor’s grandchildren
throwing rocks and sticks at Shane. Shane was very upset and was growling and
barking at them. We brought Shane inside to calm him. We spoke to the neighbors
and they assured us “it would never happen again.” Unfortunately,
from that point on Shane decided not trust any young children, and would go into
protective mode whenever he saw them.
The neighbor with the unruly grandchildren eventually moved away and a middle aged couple
moved in. They had a grandchild who had special challenges and attended a special
school. Whenever the children were around we always made sure we were with Shane
or brought him inside.
Upon returning home from
a shopping trip, we saw the neighbor having a picnic for the children from their grandchild’s school. There were children crawling on the ground, children running, and children in wheelchairs. They were having a grand time laughing and playing. As we
walked up on the porch, we saw that somehow our side door was open-Shane was nowhere to be found. We searched and called, but we could not find him. Frantic,
we realized he must be outside-the children! As we fumbled down the porch steps,
we heard the children calling, “here doggie, here doggie.” We called
to our neighbor to get the dog-she waved us over. As we approached, hearts pounding,
we saw Shane wandering from child to child, receiving pats on the head and treats from his new friends. The neighbor laughed and said, “He’s been over here all day.
He’s been great with the children.”
In shock we watched as our
Shane, who did not like children, mingled safely and openly with the children from the school.
Who says animals don’t understand?
© Dana Smith-Mansell 2005
Other pet stories and articles available for publication;
Use Your Brain to Train. An article discussing the basics of training
by prompting the trainer to think.
Clicker Training-The Decision is Still Out. In this article the writer explores her initial
thought about clicker training, and shares her experiences of attending a training class that relies soley on the clicker
Decisions, Decisions-To Puppy or Not? This article explores the question any new prospective
pet owner should consider before bringing a pet home.
Shanna-A Story of Love, Devotion, and Courage. The pet memoir about the life
of a little white dog and how she helped her owner see the joy in living. (Previously published in Unconditional
Love: Pet Tales by the Humans Who Love Them, compiled by Avie Townsend, released September 2004.
Lots of puppy and kitty poems! Devotionals, loss, and encouragement.