Birds are interesting best friends, as we have discovered with our 28 year-old cockatiel, who was part of a pair of twin cockatiels named Willie and Jose that we purchased in the 1990s.
Not long after getting the birds, we were flabbergasted to discover that one of the cockatiels had hung himself in a bell that was hanging from the roof of the cage.
The kids were mortified especially when we all discovered that since the Cockatiels were twins, we had no way of telling whether Willie – or was it Jose? – which accidentally hung himself in the middle of the night.
To simplify matters in our panic-stricken atmosphere, we named the remaining Cockatiel “Steve” in what seemed like the perfect simplification. Our youngest son, Jeff, and I buried Willie or Jose under a pine tree in the backyard.
However, that brought another issue since we didn’t know which remaining Cockatiel to say a prayer for. It didn’t make sense to say a prayer for Willie or Jose because we didn’t know which Cockatiel remained in the family after that fateful night.
Steve the Cockatiel was mourning the loss of his brother for quite some time (or at least, we thought the birds were both males). Then, in January of 2002, our 3,800 square-foot home caught fire after we had all left for school and work. Thankfully, the neighbors saved Steve and Blitz, who died several years later (we now have another Schnauzer and this one is named “Fritz”).
We trudged on and still have Steve and Fritz who seem to be doing pretty well although in bird years Steve must be something like 75 years of age.
In particular, Steve is starting to show his age by falling off his perch in what seems to be a seizure; and that in itself is ironic since I’m a former epileptic who was cured of the disorder on Dec. 6, 1994 at Scripps Green Clinic in La Jolla, Calif.
However, the story of Steve gets even more interesting because we have finally realized that he may be the first bird in the world that actually might need a therapist.
I mean, when a human being experiences major trauma in his or her life, we’re all reminded that therapy is a vital part of the recovery process. We have been reminded several times that Steve has been through numerous setbacks ranging from deaths in his family to a $400,000 house fire, whose cage was centered about 10 feet from the heart of the fire in the television room.
If nothing else, Steve must have inhaled significant smoke before our neighbors saved him before we were able to get home. If he has any war wounds, he hasn’t bothered to let us know of his woes.
Through all of his challenges that now seem to include seizures, Steve the Cockatiel rocks out without complaining about anything.
However, we’re now looking around to see if there is such a thing as a bird therapist.