You Weren’t Exactly My Ideal
How A Bird Persuaded Me to Adopt Her
The day I met you, I wasn’t impressed. Compared to my old conure, you were big, unwieldy, and not exactly the prettiest bird in the world. You couldn’t fly or make a sound, and your red eyes were pretty creepy. I took one look at you and figured that someone else could take you home.
The lady told me your story - how you’d been an unwanted gift to a unwilling recipient, who shoved you into a budgie cage and left you in the laundry room for nearly forty years of your life, only feeding you when memory or guilt prodded. How your first owner allowed her children to poke at you through the bars of your cage with their sticky fingers, pulling your feathers, prodding your head, laughing when you tried to defend yourself. How someone reported your condition to the local shelter and how they swooped in to rescue you from your nightmare, even though you emerged scarred and terrified of your own shadow. The shelter worker showed me your once-broken wing that had never healed and your foot that didn’t work right, explaining that it meant you would never fly again and you couldn’t walk well, either.
I felt sorry for you at this point, but you still scared me. You weren’t exactly eyeing me in a very friendly way either. The lady explained how you had lived in the shelter for the past two years, slowly getting to know and trusting the three workers there.
You still flinched when I went to touch you, so I figured you would find a better home with someone else.
The lady excused herself to talk to a newcomer, and I looked straight into your beady red eyes. You seemed smaller then, pitifully fragile against what life had thrown against you.
”I’m certainly not going to bring you home if you bite me,” I told you, reaching out a hand.
You bit me anyways, hard enough to make me bleed.
Should I say it was true love at first bite? Well, it wasn’t. It just hardened my resolve to find another bird, one that could fly and that wouldn’t need constant care and handling.
You seemed to glare at me then, as if your bite was your way of claiming me. I stared you down. I wasn’t about to be bossed around by a bird.
The lady returned, and she said, ”So you’ll be taking this one home, then?”
I couldn’t find it in me to say no, so I walked out of that shelter with you in my arms that day. We drove home with you in the passenger seat beside me with the windows down, and I softened to you just a little when I saw how much you liked poking your head up near the window and watching the countryside go by.
You weren’t exactly easy to take care of. You wanted constant cuddling, you hated loud noises, and your waste was disgusting to clean up. But we figured out a system, you and I. You learned to trust me, I learned to like you, and we got along pretty well.
You got sick a few months later. I brought you in and they said you’d had a stroke. You were nearly forty-three years old and I thought you were done for.
I should have known better - you were too stubborn to go down without a fight. Three weeks later, you were coming home again, half-blind and weaker than before, but alive and happy.
You learned to make noises soon after. Sure, you sounded like a clucking chicken and you’d squawk when I walked up to you on your blind side, but now we could communicate a little. We’d squawk back and forth while I washed the dinner dishes, imitating each other until neither of us remember who taught each other which noise.
What breaks my heart are the scars you still bear from your first owner - how you flinch when a strange friend pokes their hand into your cage to say hello, how you shiver when I turn the lights off at night. I hate that someone hurt you so badly that sometimes you even bite me when I make a sudden jerky movement or if I speak too loudly while I’m holding you.
I’m not sure what your life might have been like if you hadn’t come home with me from the shelter that day. I hope that I can help you live out the rest of your days in peace and happiness to make up for your suffering at the beginning of your life.
Samantha, I wish on you all the sunny days you could ever want, all the spaghetti you could ever eat, and all the happiness your little bird heart could ever comprehend. Most of all, I wish that more rescue animals like you will find happiness and safety in their new homes.
your best friend