Last night, I was 2.5 hrs late home. It wasn’t controllable or predictable. Who can predict being stuck in stationary traffic while a drunk tow truck driver kept blocking and unblocking the road (even though he wasn’t trying to tow anyone?!?) No one was going anywhere until he either got arrested or got off the road and let the traffic move again.
I have an erratic schedule at the best of times, so the birds can cope with some variation. 2.5hrs however… they were freaking out about being late to get to their sleeping cages and so my mum stepped up and tried to help.
She started with my elderly galah Cocky Boy. Mum is his chosen human. Apparently the sun shines out of her… well yeah I’m not going to type that. Insert sucky movie background music as he stares at her adoringly and does whatever she wants and you have the right idea. He moved into his sleeping cage without the slightest problem.
Mum then turned to my macaw Fid who was literally begging her to bring him in next. He was chanting “step up” and lifting his foot. Those of you who read these blogposts regularly will know that Fid is a little angel. He never steals sneakers, breaks women’s bras or does anything even remotely obnoxious. He’d never fake being sweet and cooperative in order to be allowed out and achieve a master plan of world domination. Obnoxious behaviour is about as likely as my mother acting in a gullible way.
Ok so most of you are probably cringing and predicting where this post is going. You’d be right to do so. The reality is that Fid is a bird who hears the word “NO” a lot. When he’s out of his cage, he needs close supervision, as he is a bird that has a real knack for getting into trouble. He constantly tries to do things that he shouldn’t. When he tries those things he needs to be diverted and cued into something else for his own safety and to fulfil my basic desire to not live in a war zone.
Mum has done some training with Fid. He’ll recall fly to her, step up, dance, touch the stick and see how many almonds he can fit in her left nostril quite happily. So mum thought she could get him to transfer from his day cage to his sleeping cage without too much trouble – especially if he was asking her to do just that. However, mum was missing one vital piece of information that would allow her to do that successfully.
That vital piece of information? Fid’s bucket list. Yup you read that right, Fid has a bucket list that contains things he’d like to do before he dies (or in this case before I get home and kill him for doing them).
The second he got inside, he took off from mum and began to complete every activity that I have ever said NO to and a few other activities that I didn’t know he’d even thought of. Every time mum tried to stop him, he’d bite her (not hard enough to draw blood but hard enough to scare her).
He flew to Cocky Boy’s cage and started to dismantle the attached heat lamp. He stole my jar of fresh syringes that I use for Cocky Boy’s arthritis meds, smashed it and threw the syringes on the floor. He pulled out the cutlery drawer and threw it on the floor. He upended the dish rack. He pulled the ends off the cords of the venetian blinds. He stole mum’s glasses and threw them at the dog. He stole the cat food, upending the bowl over the cat. He opened the fridge door and happily threw out the contents with cheerful abandon. He chewed on an internal pillar that holds up the roof… his bucket list seems to be endless. All of this was done at high speed with mum chasing him. He was yelling: “NO! NO! NO! NO!” as he destroyed everything.
Mum tried to coax him into his cage by placing treats inside. So he pulled them through the bars of his cage and ate them on the outside. Mum got him on to his training perch. He proceeded to fly from the training perch to mum’s head, where he’d happily pull her hair while she screamed. If she looked like she was going to catch him, he flew back to the perch before she could.
I walked into this chaos just as a freshly emptied (and stolen) tissue box flew past my head. Realising what was going on I walked up to Fid and before I could say it, he roared “STEPUP!” and clambered onto my arm, allowing me to place him in his cage. Mum saw this cooperation and said a very bad word that I’m sure Fid will later repeat at the most inappropriate time he can find.
Mum was so stressed by the experience that her hair was standing out in a blond afro around her head. I wish I’d taken her picture because from where I was standing it was kind of funny. She looked almost as mad as the time I’d stuffed every drawer in her caravan with dog poop bags. (Why? Because she turns a really fascinating colour when you upset her – as Fid has clearly discovered.)
There’s a lesson in all of this somewhere. Mainly that I’ve made a pretty basic mistake with Fid. We do use the 60:40 rule in this house and we could probably do better with it. Mum does train with him BUT I’m in the house when she does. I thought it was enough for me to leave the room, but apparently Fid is smart enough to know I’m still around. Apparently if I’m in the house my rules of behaviour apply. If I leave – they don’t.
Mum is going to have to go back to basics with Fid when I’m out or I risk being the only person who can let him out. Mum’s not overly happy about having to work harder with him but it’s that or watch Fid dissect the portable phone. Meanwhile, I might need to buy a child safety lock for the fridge while we work on this because mum is most definitely the type to cry over spilled milk. She squeals when you pull her hair too.