BIRD TALK magazine editor, Melissa Kauffman and her two cockatiels, Carlisle (left) and Natty Bird (right).
When you wake up in the morning, you never know what the day will bring. And although this is a good thing — it certainly makes life exciting and ever changing — it can also be a bit overwhelming, especially if the day brings on the bad things in life. In fact, if we knew we were going to have a bad day, some of us might just opt to stay in bed with the sheets pulled up over our heads.
I recently had such a bad day. It was the day after I came back from a trip. But, first let me tell you about the trip. I was fortunate enough to attend the Association of Avian Veterinarians annual conference in Rhode Island for a few days. I got to see plenty of vets and nonvets, many of them old friends. . I had never been to Providence, Rhode Island, which is a beautiful city. So I was quite happy to be there. Hats off to our avian vets who get together once a year to talk bird, attend seminars and lectures, plus attend the hands-on labs. I have a lot of respect for this organization and BIRD TALK will be covering it in more depth next year.
Next up, I went to Freehold, New Jersey, where my company has an office. It was a beautiful town, amazingly green. For those of us who live in in the Southwest, where we’ve been in drought conditions, to see rain or lots of green trees and grass is a rare treat. We have a magazine there called Pet Style News, which focuses on animal fashion.
Needless to say, it pretty much covers only dogs. Dogs keep getting hipper and hipper. In fact, that whole editorial group headed up to New York this week for Pet Fashion Week in New York. I have a great dog named Sprey, but I’ve got to say, my birds are the pretty, pretty ones. But since the Tabloid Stars don’t carry their birds around (and thank goodness they don’t), birds are no hipper today than they were last week. In fact according to the latest APPMA study, bird ownership has pretty much stayed the same in last decade.
To end my trip, I went back to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, which I named my ‘tiel after. I had 48 hours to hang out with family and old high school friends. They all still think I have a pretty unusual job, especially because none of them own birds, except my mother who has a budgie named Fudge. Several of my old high school friends and I went to a restaurant called the Hamilton, which we used to go to all the time in high school. After eating, while we stood outside the restaurant talking, I hear this cockatiel calling from one of the apartments over the restaurant. “That’s a cockatiel,” I told my friends and my sister. I whistled back to it. My sister then sarcastically referred to me as the bird whisperer and told me to tell them what the cockatiel was saying. The cockatiel was just doing an excited contact call, so I made up something along those lines, keeping a straight face. My friends started laughing, while my sister just shook her head. What was totally natural to me — talking about pet birds — was so bizarre to them. Who would have thought in high school that we would all take such diverse paths in life?
My trip on the right coast finally ended and I flew back to California, getting in late at night. I checked on my pets, said “Hello” and quickly got them ready for bed. The next morning, I got them all up and started cleaning cages. That is when I noticed that my guinea pig, Roxy, was breathing funny. My husband said she was active and vocal while I was away. I was worried but not alarmed, so I made an appointment to take her to the vet that morning. She never made it, however, and died on the car ride over to the vet.
I never knew when I got out of bed that day, it would be last one I would have with my sweet little piggie. I remember seeing a quote from Oprah when one of her dogs died earlier this year. She talked about how her dog taught her so much about loving life while living it and how she realized how short life was after her dog passed.
I would say my beloved pets have all taught me that I’ve got this moment with them, no more, no less. There is nothing that can be said to ease your grief at the loss of a loved one, and you wouldn’t want there to be something. Because your grief shows them how much you loved them, and I do believe they know it some how.
So looking at today, I am the editor of BIRD TALK magazine. It is a wonderful publication, dedicated to the care of pet birds, and it has made it to its 25th birthday. So many people — editors, contributors, readers, advertisers and the birds themselves — have gotten us to this point. Let us celebrate and appreciate this moment. We are doing a two-part article on our readers’ favorite bird things, which begins this issue. Our December issue will be our special anniversary issue, where we will celebrate our readers and their birds.
Definitely check both issues out and remember how much our birds give to us through the year, today and tomorrow.
And speaking of tomorrow — at some point in 2008, I will no longer be editor of BIRD TALK magazine. Managing editor Laura Doering will be stepping up to fill in my shoes. She’s been with the magazine for quite a while, and it is time for her to spread her wings. I will still be the editorial director and hopefully will still talk to and see the many wonderful readers and contributors I’ve met through the years. I will also be involved with the birdchannel.com and will continue to help make it a great website for pet bird owners.
My last bird show will be the National Cage Bird Show held in Denver, Colorado in November. Please see our event calendar for more details. Connie, Laura and I will be attending and filming segments for our website. So even if you can’t attend, you can see some of the excitement live. If you can make it there, it will be lovely to see you. The people there are great, the birds are wonderful, and I always have a great time.
So three cheers to yesterday, today and tomorrow. Appreciate all the today moments that you have, so you can look back at them tomorrow.