a particular parrot

A woman I rode with on the elevator this morning reminded me of a parrot I met recently.

The elevators in my office building have shiny panels inside with a fun-house mirror quality to them. I was standing in one, bleary-eyed, waiting for my floor when I glanced at a panel and thought I saw the woman staring at me. It was a little disconcerting. Probably she was just standing there bleary-eyed also and the staring was a trick of the panel – I don’t know. But it made me think of a parrot – a particular parrot.

I was out in Whately again this past weekend. Zdravets, the Bulgarian band I sing with, was playing for a barn dance out there (which was extremely fun, by the way). The barn is owned by a couple who have been hosting dance parties for years and they invited the band to dinner beforehand. As we were sitting in their living room talking I kept hearing strange little cheeping and whistling sounds. It finally occurred to me that the folks might keep birds, and indeed, they have two African Grey parrots. The man walked me out to their cage and warned me not to stick my fingers in, if I had been so inclined. All bird sounds stopped as soon as I got to the cage.

The man told me about the birds, who are brothers. One was friendly though he apparently had a very hard chomp; he looked at me playfully and kept cocking his head side to side. He seemed quite sociable, but I kept my fingers to myself. The other bird, however, could be pretty aggressive, according to the man. As he said this I looked up at the second bird and found he was staring at me intently. It was not a friendly stare. I felt uncomfortable and looked away, then looked back. He was still staring at me. I found it remarkable that so much malevolence could be packed into one tiny beady eye; it was like the evil little penguin in that Wallace and Grommit film. I don’t know what he would have done with me if he’d met me out in the open but I was certain it was nothing I’d enjoy. I was very glad of the cage.


On Sunday we went to the Somerville Dog Festival http://somervilledogfestival.org/ which is now over until next year, but well worth knowing about, if you like dogs.  We love dogs and are in the middle of cautiously contemplating the acquisition, sometime in the unnamed future, of a puppy.  My daughter has been assiduously reading puppy training books for the past year so hopefully we’ll be prepared if the time ever comes.  And if not, maybe she can earn us some pocket money training puppies for other people…

But if we do decide to take the plunge there’s the whole question of what kind of dog to get.

I started this process assuming we’d adopt a cute puppy from a shelter and that would be the end of it (or just the beginning, depending on how you look at it).  In New Mexico the shelters were teeming with adorable mutt puppies, adoptable for very little money, so finding a puppy was easy.  Of course that was a problem, too – a fairly big one, actually, because so many dogs are abandoned out there.  But it was good for the many people who wanted a dog.

Here in New England it’s a whole different story.

It seems that New England has a very low rate of abandonment – which, don’t get me wrong – is an excellent thing, except that it means there are few puppies to be had, those few cost quite a lot of money, and they all seem to be some kind of Pit Bull mix.  I know there are people who like Pit Bulls, but I am not one of them.  I want a big, fluffy, smart but goofy, friendly dog of the kind that is running loose all over New Mexico.

So my daughter is researching breeds.  Golden Retrievers were her number one pick for a long time but after meeting Bernese Mountain Dogs at the Festival she has a new love, particularly because she wants to build a wheeled cart and train the dog to pull her around.  She’s narrowed the list down to: Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Standard Poodles, Alaskan Malamutes, and Collies, and has ordered books from the library on each breed.  I think my husband wishes I would restrain myself more and not feed our daughter’s enthusiasm, and I try but it’s hard!  I see a great dog and I want to wrap my arms around its big, fuzzy neck!  And I will quietly mention that my husband fell in love with a 125-lb Great Pyrenees adolescent named Buddha, which he aptly renamed Avalanche after seeing it play with a Goldendoodle half its size.  Great Pyrenees are on his list, now.