Holiday Safety

You see these articles every year. Don’t let your dog or cat have chocolate, don’t let anyone eat mistletoe, and for the love of all that’s Christmas, don’t let you pets eat the tinsle off the tree. Those are pretty much drilled into our heads by now. Unless this is your first winter with a pet, then you should start over and read those lists out there.

I want to address more about mental safety than physical. Because I have an Amazon parrot. Yesterday I showered while he was in a different room. I put on a dress he hadn’t seen in months, and brushed my hair flat. The minute Maynard saw me, he started hissing at me. I ignored him, and got a perch for him to step up. He lunged for my bare arm.

Luckily, he only bashes with his beak most of the time. Biting is rare and usually my fault. I figured he’d settle down once he heard my voice enough. I put him on the back of my chair as usual, and sat down to read. It didn’t help that the neighbors were having their roof worked on, and all the birds in the living room were on edge from the unusual noises and smells. Are all roofers that noisey, or did we just hit the jackpot?

Maynard seemed to settle down, and preened my drying hair as usual. Then I made the mistake of leaning back and making eye contact with him. He started bashing my forehead. WTF, bird? Who did I suddenly turn in to that scared him? Oh well, back in his cage he sat quietly on his perch, not calling for me or making any noise. I left for my meeting soon after that, and when I got home, my hair had dried, I changed into comfy clothes, and he was all better. He even played with me a little bit after eating tuna with me.

The Bird Channel has great input on de-stressing your birds. http://www.birdchannel.com/media/bird-behavior-and-training/bird-behavior-issues/steps-to-destress-bird.aspx.pdf The article mentions showering with your parrot, which was my first mistake. I didn’t take Maynard into the shower like I usually do, so he didn’t see me transform.

About.com lists signs that a bird is stressed. http://birds.about.com/od/birdhealth/tp/Signs-Of-Stress-In-Pet-Birds.htm Aggression? Check. At the first sign, I should have put him back in his cage to chill.

And Pets4Homes lists causes of stress. http://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/parrots-and-stress.html Loud, sudden noise? On the nose.

Now we start decorating for the holidays, and might even introduce a big funny-smelling item that the parrot is not allowed to investigate. Shiny things are hung up, music plays from a stuffed toy, strangers come over at night, and no treats are given to the bird. STRESS! http://www.birdsupplies.com/parrot-pictures/holidays-parrots-and-stress/

Gatherings with the family might not be all fun and cheer. This article talks about a cockatoo who plucked himself bald in one day. Probable cause? Divorcing owners having a loud fight in front of the poor thing. http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-behavior-and-training/bird-behavior-issues/stressed-bird.aspx It’s almost a sympathetic magic, that the parrot picks up so much of your emotional situation. Be as calm as you can, even after getting home from a six-hour shopping expedition to the mall that resulted in one box of chocolates and a new bath brush. Not the best haul for your time invested.

This year, stay calm, shop on line, go minimalist with the decorations, and have a wonderful time. I’ll be back on Sunday.

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