NOT NEWS  – Introducing Ptui and Toshi

Pteri was the first Jardine’s Parrot that Sami and I owned (She was named after Peewee’s pet pterydactyl). She was a sweet little girl, stepped up nicely, never bit.  One day Sami came home from school and went to her room and found Pteri dead on the bottom of the cage. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know how she was acting in the days before. I rarely looked in on the bird. My wife at the time claimed she was allergic to bird dander which she could detect on me if I so much as stood by the bird. I was wracked with guilt. It felt as if I had chosen a wife I didn’t like very much over a parrot I did (There was a time, before I was married and was free to bring Pteri into my bedroom, that I was home sick with a fever and Pteri walked up to my mouth and shared her food with me – by generous regurgitation, as though I was a fellow hatchling).  Over the next two years it continued to gnaw at me and so, once it was clear the marriage was over, I purchased another Jardine. I suppose I wanted another bird but mostly I wanted to atone for my part in Pteri’s demise. This bird I would do the right thing by. He came by airplane from the breeder in Texas (Jardines’ are African birds, originally from Senegal, but they are much less available than other African birds like Grays or Senegals).  I named him Ptui. He was (is) cute as hell, lots of personality, lots to say but he was (and is) a son of a bitch (His human vocabulary is limited to “Hi”, “Hello” and ‘Ptui” [He meows as well] but he’s very chatty and expressive with bird sounds.). Try my best, I couldn’t get him to step up. He liked to bite, usually with restraint but bitey just the same (Less so with women. Ptui loves the ladies). He loves me though and is always happy when I’m down in the den with him and when he’s out of the cage he perches on my shoulder. The first thing we did, when he was just a few months old, was take a road trip together. We drove up to Northampton, Mass., then to Niagara Falls, from there to Cleveland and, after, Chicago. We picked up the old Route 66 there and drove it all the way to Vegas. He stayed in a backpack-like bird carrier and I would sneak him into whatever hotel or motel I was staying in each night and then I would open the carrier and let him free (His wings were clipped a little at that point so it’s not as though he flew around too much. He glided and walked everywhere though. I don’t clip him anymore). We had a great time, talking while I drove, eating room service or barbecue or chicken-fried steak I would bring in. After a three night stay at the Bellagio, we abandoned the rental car and flew home.  The real problem with Ptui at home was that (like Dorothy Parker’s parakeet Onan) he spilled his seed and the seed attracted mice. Lots of them. They’d run across the floor with impunity. They’d climb into the birdcage. They were everywhere. Sami and I had been thinking of adopting a dog at the Bide-A-Wee so we made a slight alteration in the plans and went to the animal shelter and got ourselves a cat which was named Toshi (though they referred to her there as monkey due to her habit of climbing onto people’s shoulders, a habit she has to this day). She was about six months old when we got her. She was friendly, tactile and a very pretty silver-gray. She adjusted to her new surroundings right away and, in her first two weeks at home, must have taken out over a dozen mice (Watching a cat pursue a mouse is a lesson in cruelty. She would pounce on it, let it go, pounce on it again, bat it from side to side with her paws, let it go again, pounce again – it took a while). She was not and is not kind to the furniture, all of which is a little shredded. For the first couple of years she would stare at Ptui with savage interest but now she seems to enjoy hanging out on the couch near the bird like they’re buddies. Just the same, I don’t let Ptui out of the cage when Toshi’s around. Too cautious. There was a year that Sami spent in Boston and took Toshi with her. I had always been kind of sarcastic about the cat and the endless hours it spent lying there sleeping but when she was gone, I really missed her. Ptui, however, did not miss her so much as he was out of the cage almost all the time while Toshi was away, fouling the furniture and your clothing which invariably would be discovered only after you left the house with a bird turd on your back. Once Toshi (and Sami, temporarily) moved back home, Ptui’s golden year was over. Being an uptight jerk, I used to close the bedroom door to keep Toshi out when i went to sleep but since Jolean is much more kind and humane than I am, she lets the cat sleep on the bed and she (Toshi) nestles right between our heads (Sometimes I’ll wake up in the morning to discover Toshi’s spent the night laying on my head). I’ve had them both for about seven years now. Ptui is still the adorable little bad boy he has always been but Toshi has grown into an empress, the dowager of the house, acting completely entitled. I’d really love to see how they’d react if I let them both free and unfettered at the same time. My bet is that, between bite and flight, Ptui would be fine but the downside if i’m wrong is too high to risk. Jolean and I are thinking of expanding the menagerie with a dog in the fall. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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