Life is always changing. Just when you believe you have it all together, life throws you a curve ball to re-adjust your thinking. This is exactly what took place when I recently received a phone call from a woman needing to re-home her Companion Parrot.
The call was just like so many before it. January seems to bring about a great increase in calls and emails inquiring about surrendering Companion Parrots. The reasons are many and varied from moving, to an unwanted Christmas gift. Many claim to no longer have the time the Companion requires to be happy and then there is always that new puppy or kitten. The list is endless, and sometimes heart breaking. There was something different about this caller, and it touched the deepest recesses of my heart as I listened to the caller explain the situation.
Many people in Rescue come to the place where they begin to take every surrendered Companion Parrot's story with a grain of salt. You begin to think you have heard this before and some level of doubt arises in how much is fact and how much is simply an excuse for re-homing their feathered friend(s). This caller was different on several levels, it has brought about a new awareness and changed my prospective on Rescue in general, and how I view potential surrenders from here on.
Billi is a beautiful fifteen-year-old Bare-eyed Cockatoo who had lived the past ten years with an older couple in their suburban Toronto home. Billi is a loved, spoiled, and well-socialized cockatoo. He lacked in nothing, and it showed in his radiant health, good manners and the deep love and trust I saw he shared with his Mom. Life moves forward regardless of what we want or wish. We all grow older and changes come whether we wish them away or not. And o it was for Billi and his family. Time had brought the unavoidable necessity to move into new accommodations. It had been delayed for as long as was possible, but sadly life refused to stop moving forward and Billi needed to find a safe sanctuary where he would live out his life as he had always done; loved, spoiled and having the very best.
After months of calls to countless rescues and shelters, Billi's Mom made the call to speak to me about what my Rescue had to offer Billi. We spoke at length about my goals, my mission and what I believed and stood for in regards to Companion Parrot Advocacy. I suggested that she take time to reconsider all possibilities and we ended the conversation. Several day’s later Billi’s Mom called again to arrange to bring Billi to my rescue. I had no idea how great an impact this surrendered Cockatoo was going to have on my outlook and future in Companion Parrot Rescue.
Billi arrived with all his worldly possessions: cage, every toy he had ever loved, food, and a completed history of who he is and why. It was this meeting in person with Billi's Mom that has awakened a new vision within my heart. We put his cage together and all his toys were placed exactly how he had always had them, and it was time for Billi to come out of his carrier and say "good-bye" to the person he had loved so deeply. The moment he climbed into his Mom's arms is forever etched within me. She had been so very brave, holding in tears as best she could for Billi's sake, breaking down a couple times while filling out paper-work, and putting favorite toys into place. The pain and sorrow I witnessed as they said their good-bye was more than I had expected or witnessed before. It was a revelation of the depth of love and commitment that makes up the Companion Parrot relationship. So many before had done the same, but said good-bye and simply left their friend wondering what had happened. The moment was brief, for Billi's sake before he was placed into his cage for the last time he would see his former Mom.
This moment however is ever alive in my heart. It has changed how I see all future surrenders. Certainly some people as very glad to "get-rid-of" their Companion, but to some it is a painful, life changing decision and needs to be treated as exactly that. They are not "unwanted" Parrots but much loved Companions who for no fault of their own suffer the effects of time which waits for no one. Billi is slowly adapting to his new family and flock and I keep daily contact with his former Mom, which has helped her also to heal from her loss and grief.
Billi's Mom told me recently "she feels peace that he is safe, but wonders when the tears will ever end." I have no answer because the memory their parting left within my life still seems filled with tears. I will never look upon another surrendered Parrot in the same light I once did.