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Hello Love! Bye-Bye Birdie? - Page 3

Don’t let your new relationship destroy those you have already built with pet birds

By Chris Davis

Page 3 of 3

Even if the bird does not ever feel any love for the other person, it must exhibit some basic good manners. It is up to the bird’s favorite person to teach those manners to it. When it becomes “cute” for the bird to chase the person that it does not like, it is the same as if you had trained it to do so. It is then the fault of the owner if other members of the home do not like the bird. If it is begins chasing others around the house, the bird’s favorite person must place the bird back into its cage so that there is no doubt that the behavior is unwanted.

Danger Signals
When inviting a potentially serious romantic partner to share your life and the lives of your animal friends, you should be aware of certain danger signals. The behavior of the new person can tell you a lot. The manner in which a person treats an animal is also how he or she will treat the people around themselves, especially after they become secure in the relationship. It may take time for the negative behavior to manifest, but it eventually will.

First, look for any hint of cruelty or meanness on the part of the new person. If you notice any cruelty or meanness in your guest, he or she might try to make jokes to escape the situation. Do not fall for it. Be thankful that you were made aware of a very important aspect of the person’s personality, and then escort your visitor to the door and out of your life.

If the new person continually forces himself or herself on your bird, says derogatory things to it or teases it, even in jest, beware! Does the person “accidently” do things that you have said are hazardous to the bird? The guest might argue with you, saying that your information is not true and that the bird is just fine. This person is lying. Somewhere in the back of the visitor’s mind, he or she is waiting for the “accident” that harms the bird, kills it or causes it to fly away. Those behaviors can be definite danger signals. Any disrespect shown in forcefulness, in derogatory statements or in physical teasing will show itself later, in slightly different forms, but it will eventually surface. And the same thing will eventually be done to you. Do you want to live with that?

If the bird really does have a behavior problem and you consult a behaviorist and begin to see the problem disappear, watch for some other danger signs. If the other person does not cooperate in the behavior modification training process or thinks of a new reason to get rid of the bird after its negative behavior stops, the issue has nothing to do with the bird. It is about gaining power and control over everyone. That kind of person will still control you through direct bullying, petulant silence or pseudo-reasonable logic. He or she might make statements like; “It’s just an animal. I can’t believe that you would choose an animal over me;” “It will make life easier,” “It will simplify our lives,” etc.

Some master manipulators shield their need for control behind a false sense of concern for your well-being: “You have so much work to do. I am only worried about the amount of time and trouble that the bird takes.” The master manipulators are the worst, because they can actually make the bird lovers believe that it is their own idea rather than that of the new love, to get rid of a parrot companion.

Often, the bird owner will never see this pattern or will only see it later, when looking back at the behavior of the other person throughout the years. Through outright bullying, wheedling or subtle emotional manipulation, the person intent on control will gradually force the bird owner to give up most of what he or she loves. Often, those who have given up everything are mystified when, later, they realize that they are miserable most of the time and that they often cannot seem to do anything right. The process may take years, but manipulators will continue trying to control everyone and everything around them – especially you! People like this are very tiring and difficult to be around, and living with one of them takes a great toll on your energy and general well-being.

For most of us who have shared  our lives with our avian friends, their presence is an integral part of not only our lives, but also of who we are. To get rid of them at the whim of another is to eliminate a very loving and wonderful aspect of ourselves.

Before deciding to find your beloved bird a home, think of what the bird has given you. Has the experience been a largely positive one?  Has the bird been one of your best friends throughout the years? Do you feel a sense of commitment and responsibility to your bird? Are you giving up the bird just to make someone else happy? If you answer “Yes” to any of those questions, it is imperative that you reexamine your own values and your own sense of self-esteem.

There is not one man or woman on the face of the earth who is worth giving up a lifelong and loving relationship with an animal companion. Those truly good people who are worth sharing your life with will honor, respect and admire your love for your avian friend and will want to see you happy. They would not dream of separating you from someone you love, even if that creature will have nothing to do with them! In the most wonderful of cases, the new person will not only leave a hostile bird alone, but will be enamored of it enough to become friends with it, if possible, or get a bird of his or her own if friendship with the existing bird is not possible! If you are lucky enough to find a person like that, hold on. You’ve found a real treasure. That person will probably contribute tremendously to the joy that your parrot companion brings to your home and to your life.

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Reader Comments
I wish I had this to read many years ago. When I moved in with my ex he wouldn't let me have a animal. That alone should of been warning enough as he turned out to be a control freak. Now should I meet someone I make it clear that my zoo is part of the package so to speak.
Candy, Lincoln Park, MI
Posted: 7/15/2011 6:41:10 AM
The thing I'm also seeing as far as giving up birds is giving up birds for the kids. The birds should be as much a part of the family as a kid would be. The require as much time as far as time allotment over your lifetime is. This is a great article about relationships with the bird. With my bird, he actually taught me that my husband was a "good guy". How? He tried to attack all the other males in my life, my bro and dad included. My husband comes along and he lets him pet him right off the bat. Birds, animals are great judges of true character. Needing to get rid of a pet, a kid, a house or anything for the sake of the relationship is a relationship that is doomed to fail. Thanks for addressing this issue.
The Parrot Lady, Auburn, WA
Posted: 6/9/2011 12:00:09 PM
I don’t agree with the idea that a new person is manipulative just because they are having difficulty with a bird. Birds are much harder and take much more effort than a cat or dog. It is a big change to your lifestyle, maybe one of the biggest changes that will happen in a relationship. When I met my wife I had never been around birds before. She has (now we have) a lesser sulfur crested cockatoo. When I met her I would have never asked her to give him up because I could see how much she loved him and how big of a part of her life he was. However, meeting someone with a bird can be very similar to meeting someone with kids. You don’t ask them to give up the kids, but if you don’t like kids you might not want to get into the relationship. Just like your bird took to your husband, our bird took to me. Now he has to be around me all the time. Now he is my kid, and I love him and you couldn’t take him away from me at gun point. However, it has not been the easiest of paths. We have spent a lot of time taking birdie classes together, reading books and working with him. For me it has been well worth it. However, not all people are meant to be bird people and I’m not so quick to jump to calling someone manipulative just because they don’t want to be with a bird. I don’t think the original owner should give up a bird, but they should find someone who does want them or willing to work with them. I think the situation may be a little more complex than you are will to give credit for.
Posted: 6/9/2011 9:34:26 AM
Excellent article Chris.I hear this way too often and it is sad....
Lisa Bono, LBI, NJ
Posted: 6/8/2011 9:05:46 PM
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