Since we’re about to publish Paws & Claws, an anthology with animal stories, we invited all our writers to talk about their own experiences with the fluffy, the furry, the feathery, in short with the pets that are gracing, or at one time graced, their homes with their presence.
We’re starting with Paula Shene, a former college administrator and business owner whose hours are now filled with caring for a disabled husband and tapping at the keys that take her away into a saner reality.
Paula donated two stories to Paws & Claws; one about a wolf pack, the other about the intricate relationship between a Persian and a Siamese. Surprisingly enough, Paula decided to tell us about a couple of birds.
Birds of a Feather? Hardly.
When I wrote about two cats that graced my home, I did not mention they had company. That had more to do with the nature of the animals and lack of interaction between the paws and claws.
Pierre was a blue colored Parakeet. He was loving and energetic. I do not remember how he entered our life, but as his mate was an adoption, I’m sure he had come to that route as well. When he was out of his cage, he was normally on my left arm or shoulder or hanging from my hair; his favorite pastime was disentangling my waist length hair.
When Maisy came into our life, she left behind a Mistress who developed Asthma and was unable to keep as the bird dander was too constricting for her bronchial tubes.
Maisy was not a happy bird, more of a harpy. For the gob-smacked Pierre, Maisy was a fatal attraction. This blue bird of happiness was besotted, love-struck, and blinded to the danger of the green feathered damsel of destruction. At first, Maisy was quiet, pensive, perhaps mourning the loss of the only human she had known while kept as a single pampered parakeet.
I had, unwisely, housed them in a cage I made of fine knit screen around the base of one of our card tables, thinking the birds would be happier together in a large cage rather than two small cages.
The two birds lived together, seemingly, unaffected of the existence of the other, other than the longing looks from Pierre and the moody, sullen demeanor of Maisy. Several weeks into the quiet honeymoon adjustment, I heard screeches that rivaled in pitch and volume the corner firehouse siren. In horror, I watched as Pierre cowered in the corner while Maisy lambasted him with shrieks. Had she no feathers as a necklace I would have seen the cords of her neck stretching as she leaned into his face covering him with shrillness.
I removed him from the cage and he spent the afternoon wistfully watching Maisy. I moved to put him back into his older cage but he wanted to return to the larger cage. Silence reigned for another week, when again I heard the call of the harpy.
I arrived in time to see Maisy kick Pierre off the perch. I reached in and removed him to find he had broken one of his legs. Having young children in the home, I easily found a straw, cut off a small portion and affixed it to the leg.
I took him to the veterinarian who charged me $14 to tell me I had done a great job with doctoring him, as he re-taped the straw to his leg. The veterinarian cautioned me to keep him calm for a few days and said he should be able to go without the straw splint in ten to fourteen days. When I removed the splint, Pierre flew to the cage and indicated he wanted to go home to Maisy.
For a month, they lived in relative harmony with Pierre wooing and Maisy ignoring. One morning I removed the covering and Pierre was lying on the floor, but this time it was not a simple fracture. He had no wounds, no blood. He had simply died of a broken heart.