a Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who\’s Determined to Kill Me
by Jenny Gardiner
Story of family life with an african grey parrot. When the author was newly married, she and her husband had always wanted a parrot. They couldn\’t afford a captive-bred bird, and felt dubious about acquiring a wild-caught one. So they got a dog. Who turned out to have tons of health problems- allergic to everything, including dog food. The family was advised to put the miserable labrador to sleep, but they insisting on keeping their family pet, in spite of its chronic health problems. Then a relative came home from a stay overseas and brought them a parrot. A frightened, unhappy, feather-plucking vicious young parrot they named Graycie. They tried to give Graycie the best care, but unfortunately whenever things happened in the family (leaky roof during snowstorms, multiple kids with chicken pox at the same time, frightening episode of seizures complicated by their daughter\’s adverse reactions to medication when she was older, etc) the parrot got ignored. In boredom it self-mutilated and destroyed whatever it could reach- including pulling tiles off the wall. Not to say they didn\’t speak kindly to it, provide it with veterinary care, research proper diet, etc- and recorded plenty of amusing moments, the kids\’ delight in the bird\’s antics, amusing incidents when Graycie repeated phrases in appropriate context- scolding the dog or the children, for example. But I have to say overwhelmingly it sounded like keeping a parrot is a ton of work and trouble, constant cleaning of messes, and not very encouraging when the bird never warms to you and is always ready to attack. It is admirable that the family never gave up on Graycie, nor on any of their other pets that turned out to be troublesome (after the hyperallergic lab, they had a dog with a penchant for biting). The author relates how caring for Graycie taxed her patience and sanity, but also taught her kids responsibility to other living things, a firm commitment to the creatures we take into our lives. It all cements my impression that parrots don\’t really make good pets. Similar read, but with a parrot that actually liked its owner: The Parrot Who Owns Me. Similar read in tone, but about a dog. In the end, I found this one disappointing. While the stories about the family\’s trials and challenges made me sympathize with them, I wish there had actually been more page space given to the bird, except that I was feeling bad for the bird, so maybe not.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 2/5 240 pages, 2010
Bibliophile by the Sea
Aw, it's too bad. I remember the author coming under fire for some of the things she did to the bird but I can't remember any of the details.
My extended family (grandmother, aunts) always kept parrots and other big birds, and I never had a good impression of them. Always too ready to bite and destroy things when bored.Now that I'm older, I understand it better — they're very intelligent, and if they're kept in a small cage all day, they get bored and destructive.