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A friend called Marsh

June 10, 2010

We brought him home on April 29th 2010. The boys anxiously waited for about four months for his arrival.  They are so excited that he is a new addition to our family now. Emmanu had the name Marsh ready for him months before we brought him home. He named him after his favorite kid detective character called Marshal from a mystery series book he had read; Marsh in Short. Marsh enjoys spending time with the boys: they play together, sometimes fight, and have him always around as they watch vides, as they read, when they eat their meals and do different activities. His presence amongst our family added a unique excitement.        

The boys got a Cockatoo.  Cockatoos are intelligent and very affectionate companion birds. The night we went to Petco to get Marsh was full of excitement for them. They have asked for a pet for a long time; a dog as their first choice. But we know for sure that the responsibility of taking care of a dog is quiet big. In the end, we negotiated with them to get a Cockatoo instead. They jumped on the idea right away. Emmanu wanted to get Marsh for his birthday which was in the middle of March. Benny wanted him for the end of May. If we get him on either of their birthdays, then he would end up being one of the boy's pet. You can imagine the kinds of sibling raiveray that would bring. So we decided to get him in between their birthdays; in April. That worked out well.  

Cockatoos have interactive behaviors. If trained properly, they can learn to imitate few words. Studies show that they can live for many years. Thus the boys will practically grow up with Marsh. Unless they...… you know what I am trying to say. In fact, I had to set them up with one of their teachers and also a local librarian to give them a crash lesson on how to take care of a pet like Marsh. Too much love for a pet can be nice and also dangerous at the same time.   

It has been an interesting few weeks with Marsh and the boys.  The night we got Marsh, we had no idea what kind of temperaments he had. All we knew about Cockatoos was that they are friendly pets, they can be trained to talk, and they can be wonderful companions. That is it. We did not do our homework to learn that they bite hard until they feel comfortable with their owners. To make the story short, with in the first few days of his arrival, every singe member of our family got bitten by Marsh real hard. He managed to show everyone how tough he was. Then we knew right away where our boundaries were when interacting with him. So Benny changed strategy right away. Instead of giving him his hand to step on to, he started giving him a stick. That worked out real well. As soon as the boys brought the long and round stick close to Marsh’s feet, he hops right on it immediately. Then they were able to move him out of his cage, room to room, and anywhere.  Marsh then progressed adapting the family environment rather quick. The boys let him walk around the house, then let him sit on their laps, then on their fingers, then on their shoulders, then on their heads. No biting, no fussing around.  If a guest comes to our house, they offer if Marsh could sit on their shoulders. Upon getting the consent, Marsh hops right on. Incredible.      

 

Marsh was able to create few dramas as he became more and more comfortable with the family. Some were funny and some were dangerous. Here are few of them:     

As he has done it many dozen times already, Marsh was sitting on top of Benny’s head as usual one weekday evening while Benny was doing different mundane activities in the house.  Benny is at ease with this. Then all of a sudden, Benny’s head was covered with Marsh’s poop. Aaaawch! Benny quickly moved Marsh away from his head to the floor and started running to the bathroom with noticeably embarrassed and blushed look. He tried to laugh it off as he was washing his face and head in the bathroom sink. The lauder we laughed, the lauder Benny tried to laugh as well.  Boy Marsh got Benny real good. Marsh? He was as calm and relaxed as could be as if he is saying by his body language, got him! 

On another night, Marsh and Benny were playing together. Benny had his forehead locked up with Marsh’s front head. The two were having fun together. It looked like Benny had totally forgotten he was playing with a bird not another human being. When Benny opened up his mouth to say something; with quick reflex response, Marsh pocked Benny’s tong. Oopps! ... Again, Benny played the incident down by saying it did not hurt much and laughed the incident off and continued playing with his buddy. Boy we were laughing hard again.

Another incident.  I had Marsh on my head this time, walking around gracefully as if I had done this all my life, preparing the table for the dinner we were about to eat. Mom and the boys though I was so good at this. Served, the red wot on the table right after Mom had finished warming it up, the plates, the injera, the glasses of water, the vegetables, everything one after the other. All of a sudden, Marsh flew off from my head onto the table where I prepared everything. From the table, jumped in the red hot wot, splashed the Wot all over the place including some in my eyes and landed on the floor. As soon as I noticed Marsh was walking on the floor again, I ran to the bathroom to wash off my burning eyes from the Wot.  Marsh ended up in the bath tub getting washed up.  He had the Wot on his wings, feet and the rest of his body. The funny part of this was Marsh enjoyed the cold bath so much he did not want to get out. I totally forgot for a moment that I was washing a bird as I washed his feet, his body and his wings stretching them one at a time in each direction. He was so cooperative. He was so calm and relaxed as if he has been waiting for this to happen for a long time; as if he created the drama for this purpose.  He did not resist at all. Very interesting.   

The boys are enjoying every single time with Marsh. With enjoyment, come responsibilities as well. They have two job categories that they agreed upon to follow at the beginning. The first task is to clean Marsh’s poop every morning. The second task is to change the food and water every morning. The boys had agreed to exchange the task every Monday. Even further, Emmanu had originally promised he would do the poop cleaning permanently without needing any help from anyone. They take care of their responsibilities but not consistently. Now, who offers to help when the boys fail to do it? Mom. If the boys point fingers at each other for not wanting to do their part of the responsibility, well it has to get done. That is why she is helping them out. But I say Mom and Dad will have to be brave enough to resist doing any of their chores because they need to totally own the responsibility at hand. I remind them it is like getting a chance to raise a little baby on their own by making sure they feed him and clean his poop every day.  Well, if a bird can be trained and be able to adapt, I believe boys will as well, as we continue to train them to take full responsibility to care and look after for someone beyond themselves.            

How about getting your own Cockatoo? Go for it. As long as owning Cockatoo fits with you lifestyle, you will be glad you did.

 

Cheers

Anteneh