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About 25 years ago, we decided it was time to add birds to our collection of household personalities. Continuing to believe the philosophy that pets such as dogs, cats and birds add personality to a family, we purchased a pair of cockatiels.
Our new found friends were welcomed into our home in Las Vegas. While we knew absolutely nothing about birds, just the fact that our birds were identical twins was enough to start adding notes to the family diary.
It was agreed that the cockatiels would be named Willie and Jose although the birds were so similar that we never could determine who was "Willie" and who was "Jose."
Then, too, little did we know that the stories produced thanks to the pair would last forever around our home.
I mean, if you think about it, how in the world could a pair of cockatiels generate stories with so much impact that we'd be talking about them a quarter of a century later?
First off, there was the time when the door to the cage was left open for whatever reason. Willie and Jose promptly "flew the coup" and headed out an open door into the back yard before landing in a neighbor's tree. I scurried over the wall like an Olympic hurdler before climbing the tree and retrieving our new found friends.
I wasn't sure whether Willie and Jose appreciated my dedication to bringing them back to their home. Then again, a bird's home might have been more suited in a tree, so I might have been wrong for bringing them back to a cage where freedom was certainly limited.
It was during this time that our oldest son, John, drove an old Honda Accord. Each morning, he'd start his car and before long, either Willie or Jose would mimic the engine of the old Honda which had a particularly whining noise.
Then, there was the tragic day when I came downstairs only to discover that either Willie or Jose had hung himself by catching his beak in a bell which had been placed in the cage. The remaining Cockatiel just kind of stood there on his perch in an obvious state of shock in waking up to see his brother hanged to death.
We buried the deceased Cockatiel in the backyard and scratched our heads primarily because we didn't know whether to give a final send off to Willie or Jose since we didn't know one from the other.
Our three boys gathered into somewhat of a summit conference and decided that for whatever reason, the surviving Cockatiel would now be known as Steve rather than endure DNA testing to determine whether we had buried Willie or Jose. It all sounded good to me although I silently worried that Steve would have lifelong emotional scars considering the things he has seen over the years (I often wished he could talk since he saw a burglar break through the back door of our home when we were out of town. Steve obviously saw the intruder who walked by his cage before burglarizing our home).
We still have Steve, who at the age of 25 has survived a massive house fire in our previous home; along with the break-in in our current home; not to mention the fact that he witnessed his brother's hanging many years before. Considering what Steve has endured, I have often thought that he could use some sort of psychological therapy since he has experienced his share of trauma as a member of the Henle family.
And when Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel is aired each Sunday afternoon, Steve starts chirping and dancing to the music that goes with a segment called "Eye Candy" showing wild wrecks and other auto racing related shots. When our Schnauzer named "Blitz" starts howling, Steve almost seems to be reacting to the excitement in his own way.
It goes without saying that every family needs a pet whether we're talking about dogs, cats or birds considering that each pet has his or her own personality.
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