For the first half of our marriage, my wife, Cathy, and I agreed that we didn’t want the responsibility of having to care for another living thing (plant, animal, or child). We ate out frequently, took trips, and extended them if we were especially enjoying ourselves. We didn’t have to be concerned that someone or something at home was waiting for us and we were “Dirty Stayouts” for abandoning them.
That all changed when Cathy visited her friend, Andrea, who owned a parrot shop in Houston called A Parrots Cove. There were plenty of birds at Andrea’s when Cathy visited over the years. She found many of them intriguing. For example, Mr. G, an Eclectus parrot, would repeat exactly what Andrea’s husband, Joe, said, in exactly Joe’s voice.
Cathy had been visiting Andrea when she called me one night and said she was in love. I thought our marriage was over until I found out she was referring to a Blue Crown Conure parrot she’d met. Cathy and DJ (whom she named with the initials for Double-Jointed, as he’d do all sorts of crazy acrobatics in his cage) took an immediate liking to one another. After spending a few days with him, she realized she wanted to be his Mom. Needless to say, it surprised me that she’d want to take on that responsibility given our penchant for not wanting those roles in our lives. But on the other hand, we both sensed that having some responsibility outside of ourselves wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Cathy came home from her trip without DJ, giving herself some time to make her decision. Since DJ is considered an exotic animal, there would be certain precautions to be observed that his life quite literally depended on. Common foods like chocolate, avocados, and coffee can be dangerous, even deadly, to parrots. They have sensitive respiratory systems; because of that, we no longer use our fireplace or light candles. We must be careful cooking with Teflon, which when burned emits an odorless gas lethal to parrots.
It took DJ a while to get acclimated to us, and we to him. But now we’ve had him for a dozen years and he’s bonded with the two of us and doesn’t have much interest in anyone else. DJ has become an integral part of our family. He is so aware of what’s going on around him when it comes to what my wife and I are doing, especially when we are doing it together. If I give my wife a kiss, even when we’re on the second floor, often DJ will throw us a kiss too. The amazing part is he will do it at the exact moment our lips touch even though he can’t see us.
Now we only go out to dinner once a week and no longer take long trips because we don’t like to leave DJ alone, even with a sitter, for more than a few days. After all, he is part of our family.
Here’s a picture of the “little guy” as I like to call him: