Pet of the Day

February 14, 2002

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Valentine, the Pet of the Day
Name: Valentine
Age: Fourteen years old
Gender: Female
Kind: Red Lory
Home: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, USA
   I found Valentine about fourteen years ago in a little pet shop near Chicago. She was housed in a tiny cage that had water and seeds in it. Her feathers were ragged and she had bald spots. I went ballistic. Lories are fruit and nectar eaters. They can't extract enough nutrients from seed, and they need a high energy diet. These are high energy birds.

In my tirade over the treatment of this wonderful, exotic bird, I had somehow purchased her... at a greatly reduced price. We drove straight to the veterinary clinic where the doctor examined her, gave me the correct diet for her and told me that even though she would probably never become tame; she was a wild caught import and had a band stating that, I had probably saved her life.

    She was a terror.

    She wanted to bathe every day, but had to do that in the bathroom. We settled on a long stick to transport her to and from her cage for her morning bath. She ate constantly and the feathers fell like rain. She shortly molted into a fluorescent red that almost hurts the eyes.

    One morning, about six months after she came to live with me, I was taking her into the bathroom for the morning bath and she ran up the stick onto my shoulder. She licked my face and rolled around on my shoulder like a kitten. From that day forward she couldn't be held enough. She enjoys being held and stroked and turned over on her back and tickled. She spends a lot of time on her back; something I didn't expect a bird to do. She plays with her toys (and in her eyes everything is a toy) and sleeps on her back. The first time I saw her sleeping that way, I screamed. I thought she had died!

    Not long after she tamed herself, she uttered her first words, "Stop it!" I was trying to teach her "Hello," but she obviously heard me admonishing her more often. She plays rough sometimes, and when she nips, I tell her to "stop it". Since then, she has picked up more words. Her favorite is "Valentine". She creates her own words too like Valababy, Birdentine, Babytine, Tinentine, etc. When people are talking she just babbles and laughs as though she is taking part in the conversation. When she was about six, she developed a very serious lung infection. It required me to give her injections twice a day for ten days. I don't know who hated them worse. Poor bird, when I would be dabbing antiseptic on the area to be injected, she would shriek, "No bite, no bite!" That is what I would yell when she was still new and would really latch onto me. She never said that phrase before the injections and has never said them since. Bird brains indeed.

    She is rarely locked in her cage and has plenty of levels and cardboard boxed to explore and eventually destroy. She is really a sweet and wonderful companion. Due to her diet of vegetables, fruit, sprouts and juices, housekeeping is a little more involved with her than most birds, but when she cuddles under my chin, and says, "Love you, bird," it's really no chore at all.

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