Pet Stories: In Your Own Words
Lessons from Crackers
These are the things I have learned from Crackers, my 18-year-old cockatiel:
* Shower loved ones with kisses and cuddles.
* Sing. (When Crackers was hospitalized with a lung infection, and was so weak my heart stopped every time I called the vet staff at 8:00 in the morning to see how he had fared through the night, he still trilled.his bliss in spite of a sick little body. Every day.
* Strut when doing the above. (Crackers, after all, is a child of God, and wings held from his body, forming a heart-shaped "cape," promenading for his audience, he proclaims his divinity from every cell.)
* Communicate your desires unashamedly. (In Crackers' case, The Squawk is remarkably effective.)
* Be aware of your feelings. (Crackers keeps a running commentary of his inner state through vocalizations.)
* Do anything that's fun.
* Refuse to do what isn't.
* Relish your body. (Ah, the joy Crackers gets from stretching, taking every feather, one by one, and lovingly running it through his beak, and just touching a loved one.)
* Bite the person who cages you. (Although Crackers has trained me so that he spends very little time in his cage, when I am not at home, he has to be caged for safety. Knowing from my body language that it's Cage Time, he rushes up to me and bites me.)
* Soften the bites to loved ones. (Crackers has bitten other people hard, but for me bites are symbolic, the running of his mouth along my finger.)
* Ask for love.
* Receive it with an open heart. I have a feeling that once, thousands of years ago, I knew these things, but this time around I'm a little slow. No matter. Crackers loves me just as I am. And this sweet, pure, simple unconditional love is his biggest lesson of all.