EMILY LE COZ: The bird lady admits her weakness

I have two cockatiels. They are my babies. People told me when I had my son that my birds would lose their baby status, they’d become pets. Nothing more.
Those people were wrong.
You know those ladies who kissy-kiss their teacup poodles and tote them around in purses? That’s me, except with birds. It’s sick, I know.
I realize by admitting this that you’re likely forming an image in your mind. Whatever you thought of me before just slipped down a notch as you shake your head and think, “so she’s one of those types.”
Kooky, some say.
Flaky, others agree.
Bird kisser, a few accuse.
Yes, yes and yes. I bow in shame. But I cannot deny the fragile beauty of my relationship to these birds. Here are two creatures that weigh a fraction of a pound and measure no more than a foot from head to tail, yet they trust me to caress them without crushing their tiny frames.
That’s love beyond boundaries.
It’s also anguish. So strong is their trust of me and my ability to protect them that they cavort with danger each chance they get. They walk around on the floor, despite having wings and despite the obvious threat of a 35-pound toddler and a 75-pound dog – neither of which look out for the birds. I must scoop them up and place them on higher ground.
They try to drink hot coffee or stick their heads in the toaster. I ban them from these activities, only to see them return again and again.
They also hide behind couch cushions, daring someone to sit down and squash them. Again, they are removed and scolded. But they always come back for more.
So it was with little surprise but much sadness that my 6-year-old cockatiel got himself into a painful mess that nearly killed him the other day. He got squished by an unused dog gate that fell on him as he tried to climb it. It was a horrific accident, and I thought he would die from the injuries.
Of course, these things never happen during normal veterinarian office hours. So I had to track down a host of sympathetic bird lovers for help: Thanks to Dr. Stephen King of the Tupelo Small Animal Hospital and Shelia Horton of Have a Heart Horse Rescue for their advice. Thanks to Dr. Karen Emerson of the Village Animal Hospital in Starkville for emergency services. And thanks to Dr. John Morris of the Saltillo Small Animal Hospital for taking an off-hours phone call to soothe my nerves and seeing me first thing in the morning for a post-emergency visit.
After two weeks of recovery, my bird is back to normal and again cavorting with risk. For him, it’s as though the accident never happened. I wish I were as lucky.
His near-death experience frightened me to the point of total devotion. I’ve been addicted to this bird lately, always petting him and giving him extra treats.
I see you shaking your head again. You think I’m strange. Maybe so. But how many of you dote on your dogs or cats like this? Aha. Just as I thought.
We’re all weird, I guess.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.


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