Mondays aren’t the same when I’m not working. The usual sense of dread that comes with the start of the work week isn’t there. Depending on what’s going on at the time I may not even notice it’s Monday. The best way of keeping track of time is to be in school or have a job when you have an actual reason to look forward to the weekends (yes, I’m going to make that a thing).
Zoey, the African Gray, doesn’t fly much. Up until recently, any time she attempted to fly (which really only happened when she got startled) usually ended with her flying into a wall or other object. This scares the bejeezus out of me because I’m afraid she’s going to hurt herself. Judging by the look of panic in her eyes, she’s not keen on the experience, either. She is, in fact, more likely to climb down to the ground and walk to wherever she wants to go.
But she needs to exercise those wing muscles so, before I put her in her cage for the night, I try and get her to flap those wings. She grabs my finger and I say, “Flap your wings! Flap your wings!” and then she flaps ‘em like mad. I tell her to do it again and she flaps away, holding onto my finger with a death grip. And, just because I’m a sadist, I’ll say, “Okay, now one more time.” And she’ll do it one more time. Sometimes she tries to be clever and on the third time around she’ll wait until I open my mouth and do the “one more time” flap on her own. So I don’t say it. When she stops flapping I’ll open my mouth again and, preemptively, she’ll start flapping again. She’ll keep doing that until I do say, “One more time!”
Another thing she’ll do is say “Yum!” when she eats something she likes. This is incredibly handy. I won’t say she’s a picky eater because she has, like, two things that she likes and will always eat: her bird food and sunflower seeds. And that’s about it. So finding new snacks for her, or treats, is difficult because she won’t eat a lot of things. If I can find something that she will eat, and say “Yum!” to is a good indicator that it’s something I can give her in the future.
A couple of times I’ve had her on my shoulder while I do routine things, such as washing the dishes or fixing the coffee pot for the next morning. I think she’s gotten a bit bored with that because she’s taken to climbing down to my finger and flapping her wings and then saying “Yum!” I’ve taken this as meaning, “This is really boring and I’d like to go to my cage now and you can fill up my snack dispenser with sunflower seeds.” Because, you know, that’s the routine.
What I love about all of this is that I don’t train her. I don’t do practice drills, there’s no rewards for doing something ‘right.’ I like letting animals do there thing and see where they end up on their own. Sure, there are some basics that should be met, such as: sit, stay, get the hell off the fridge. But, otherwise, I have a hands-off policy. And still Zoey manages to get her ideas across. Tooka decorates his own cage. Junior… Well, Junior is special.
I’d like to think that Junior understands basic commands. I’m pretty sure he does, really. I think, though, that I just manage to do what he wants me to do and it only looks like he’s following commands.
For instance, these days he will only drink water out of my water cup. I don’t know why. He’ll jump up on my desk and stick his head in my glass and start drinking. If the water level isn’t high enough I’ll pick up the glass and say, “Stay here, I’ll be right back.” And he will. Then I get back with the glass and he laps away. Did he stay because I told him to? Nope. He stayed because there was no reason for him to follow me to the kitchen because he knew I’d come back with a full glass of water.
And I’m fine with this because it’s different. I never know what any of these animals is going to do next or what their going to pick up on their own. When I came home from work I would always say, “Daddy’s home!” Do you think either of the birds ever said that when I came through the door? No, they did not. Ever. But Zoey has no problem saying, “Buck, buck, buck. You’re a chicken!” when I walk by her cage, and I never taught her that. It makes the day interesting.
I was going through the grocery store looking for some yogurt to fix my bacteria-free guts when I came across some new beers.