“My Parrot ate my health insurance card.” I said as I spoke on the phone to the insurance company.
“A…hmm…What Happened?”. the tired voice asked me.
“My parrot, Taz is his name actually. He ate my insurance card and I need a new one to be sent to me.” I responded.
Laughter could be heard on both ends of the phone. My 21 year old heard me talking and was cackling. I heard the tired voice awaken on the other end of the line. It really perked up as she and a coworker were laughing.
When the laughter died down the customer care rep said, “Mam, I will be happy to process that request for a new card to be sent to your home address. Thanks for giving me a laugh today. That was funny.”
Yes, that’s my darling Taz. He brings laughter, joy to even the dullest of days. Far from being a problem child, he’s actually a joy to take care of and just adventurous enough to give us many funny stories. He is actually my therapy bird.
Many times, those of us with chronic pain issues can’t handle a dog, even a small one, as a companion or therapy animal. And for those like myself who are from the rare disease community and have few options for my care, my bird has been very important. He has improved my quality of life.
Taz is an almost one year old Goffin’s Cockatoo. Unlike the traditionally thought of Cockatoo, a Goffin’s Cockatoo is much smaller, quieter, and most times less of a problem child than other Cockatoos. Sure he ate my insurance card, but I’ve seen most dogs do more damage than that. Not too big of deal really.
Taz has interwoven every one of my days with something to smile about and to focus on when my disorders have gotten the best of me..
In the mornings he climbs out of his cage onto my hand, up my arm and greets me with an enthusiastic, “Hi!”
Taz loves dancing and bobbing to songs like Uptown Funk. As long as it’s a beat he can dance too, he is happy.
Seeing me in pain day after day, Taz insists on sitting light as a feather on my shoulder cuddled up against my face or nesting in part of my sweater. I feel the light warmth of his softly feathered body and hear the soothing sounds he makes while we cuddle.
I frequently see him search for hidden treasures on his giant Java tree. Seeing him walk down the hallway to my son’s room to peak in and clearly say my son’s name, then walking back to me, climbing my leg to be put back on the tree.
Seeing him wake up from a nap, daily he spreads his wings and says loudly, “Batman!”.
He loves his warmed up cooked beans and pasta with his breakfast. He loves his shredded greens too. And whatever we are eating, he wants a taste.
He has learned to love spray bottle baths he knows he’s cute and slowly moves in a complete circle to show off his washed feathers. The entire time he is making these baby bird sounds. He is such a precious life among us.
Taz only gets one life. His existence does make me happy, but he doesn’t exist with the purpose of being a therapy tool. He is a living being who has allowed me to be his flock mate. There is a trust, a bond between us.
Not spoiling him is the biggest challenge. Adorable and cuddly, it would be so easy to spoil Taz. There is nothing he does that doesn’t ooze cuddly cuteness. Too much attention makes for a needy, demanding bird. So it’s importance that I be a responsible bird parent. Love him, but let him know how to be independent too.
My choice may seem odd to some, but more and more people in the disabilities community are finding value in caring for different species of birds. It’s almost standard for nursing homes to have aviaries. Now it’s been in the news that some are letting residents care for chickens, including taking the chickens for strolls around the grounds. It’s been noted how the care of birds have helped levels of pain and depression to decrease.
My husband gladly takes care of Taz for me in the ways that I can not. Emotionally there is a bond that is pretty strong. I would walk through fire for my family and I would do the same for Taz because he IS family.