I’m no stranger to confrontation. I’ve had to dosey doe with the evil horse trainer on tour, call upper management out for not doing their jobs, and go fist to fist with the middle school bully, but when it came time to roshambo with a sweet little old lady from central Florida, I felt the need to politely give up and duck out after the seventh round, and accept failure & defeat.
Meet Cheri Delong, one of the toughest challenges
I’ve encountered as a trainer.
Cheri was the first client we took on when we started filming “One Day Miracles – Season One,” and she was also the episode titled “Big Fail.”
It wasn’t that the bird was THAT bad, Rascal was actually quite workable. However, a common theme throughout the entire show was the owners’ realizations on camera that we weren’t there to train the birds, we were there to train the owners; a realization that despite treacherous attempts, Cheri couldn’t grasp.
Without giving away the episode too much, Jamieleigh and I tried every angle we could to try to get Cheri to understand training.
In a last ditch effort to get her to understand, Jamie even pretended to be the bird and have Cheri train her… Sadly it still fell on deaf ears, as she went back to Rascal and patronized us by taunting the bird and saying “you don’t need that do you… yeah… that’s tough… NO! Don’t bite!… yeah… you don’t… OUCH! OUCH! STOP THAT! OUCH!”
At that point I realized that you can’t get through to everyone. So I politely gave her Taming Training and Tricks, Volume 1 and left. I realized that the ONLY chance in hell she had of getting her bird to be handleable was to go through that course step by step. Without it, the bird would surely need to get re-homed in a few years. Or as Jamieleigh so elegantly put it, “Well at least she’ll have to buy our abused parrot course in a few years.”
Then To Add Insult To Injury…
When we got home that night, after a long drive back and a long day of training, we had an email from Cheri. She had told us that she already had Taming Training and Tricks, and that she would like to exchange it for Flock Talk; the DVD program we developed that you just put in and let your birds watch it as they effortlessly learn to talk by watching and listening to real birds in the wild, with talking birds dubbed in. To add insult to injury, we had to drag all of our gear back into the house in the middle of a thunderstorm that had formed on the drive back…
This email, as you can image, didn’t get a reply.
However, it made me realize an important lesson as a parrot trainer. Many parrot owners just want the “magic pill” to fix all of their parrot’s problems without having to put in the work. That category of person puts all the blame on the parrot, and takes no personal responsibility for their own actions. They fail to realize that their parrot is the way it is because of what they’ve done; intentionally or otherwise. That is at least until they compare themselves to others…
We here at BirdTricks.com decided to send everyone a DVD that had their episode on it. I begged our shipping department not to send her episode to her, because it was a massive fail. And although I had been pretty upset because I felt like we wasted our time with Cheri and she just blew us off, I didn’t want her to be upset watching the episode… but it was too late – they had already mailed the DVD and there was no turning back now.
A few days passed and Jamie’s heart nearly stopped as she saw that Cheri DeLong had emailed our customer service department. Her stomach dropped to the floor as if she’d just broken-free and plunged over the edge of a roller coaster and was now in a steady free fall, headed for a certain unavoidable splattery death. Her heart started to pound again, this time thumping so hard that the birds listened and danced in the branches all the way down the block to the sound of their new private drum.
…. click… and now the email was open… she took one big gulp, and started to read.
the video arrived today. thank you for sending us the 2 segments – we have watched it – and i have to tell you that dave surely maintains his patience with bird owners! i acknowledge that i was a horrid scholar!!
i do have some positive feedback for dave though. please tell him that i have been successful in utilizing the clicker in one regard. it used to be difficult to get rascal to go back into his cage when it was time to close up for the day. the first useful task rascal accomplished with the clicker training was to willingly get into his cage – knowing that when he touched the chop stick tip (i tapped on his perch inside his cage) and heard the click, a dried banana chip treat was all his! now, he is eager to hop right onto his perch at any time.
this simple use has made it much easier for rascal to have freedom outside of his cage at various times of the day – without wasting time trying to coax him back inside.
also, he steps up onto my KNUCKLE easily for transport now – he has learned that stepping up will give him a trip to his outside play stand and quite possibly a shower while he prances across the play stand perch.
thank you all for your time and efforts.
just an aside: we have acquired a rescue bird – oliver – who is 15 years old – he talks on que often and realizes he too benefits when rascal uses his good manners for stepping up for transport – then they both get to go outside on the play stand. oliver is a very aggressive bird and if ever i thought rascal ‘lundged’ at me, i can say that oliver gives new meaning to ‘lundging’. we are making progress though as oliver is realizing he can trust us to always be kind and loving to him.
After reading this email, I looked outside and saw the clouds parting as the sun started to shine through. The thunderstorm stopped immediately and a rainbow formed that spanned the entire horizon. Right then and there a little sparrow landed on the windowsill of my upstairs office and started to sing. I even heard angels harmonizing in the background… then God came down and whispered into my ear, “It has been a One Day Miracle…”
I blinked twice, looked outside and realized that although the email was real, it was still raining outside… but that didn’t matter. Cheri realized her mistakes, taken ownership, and proved that my time wasn’t wasted, and that Rascal will be able to live a long, happy, fulfilled life.
>>>A Personal Note To Cheri:
While I was frustrated during the day we spent with you, in the end you figured out the mistakes you were making, and stopped blaming your bird. And for that I want to offer you my most sincere CONGRATULATIONS.
Admitting that it is US that are creating our birds’ problems; and that WE are the ones that ultimately have to make the changes of how we interact with our birds if we want to improve our relationship with our feathered little guys is something that not very many people ever do.
Even people who read this blog will still say to themselves after reading this very post, “Yeah, but they don’t know my bird”. And you know what? They’ll never be able to make progress until they change that mindset.
Keep up the good work Cheri!
So How Will Your Bird’s Story End?
Sadly, for most people reading this post it won’t end well.
The only stories that end differently are from people who seek out training that can fix their problems.
I’m a bit biased, but I don’t know how you can get better training then by watching us go into 12 different parrot owners homes and fix their problems before you’re very eyes.
All you have to do is follow along as we teach each owner a set of powerful training techniques to use in different situations, for different behavior problems.
If that makes sense to you, that the best way to learn is by watching someone solve a problem just like yours on camera then pick up a copy of our One Day Miracle parrot training DVD series today.
You can use this link:
Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.