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For The Birds

By Laura Doering

Times have been tough. With the housing crisis, bank crisis, corporation crisis, we’ve certainly weathered a lot of crises lately. I’ve noticed a lot of rhetoric with the sentiment, “in this economy”; as in “In this economy, you can’t afford to pay full price ...” and “It’s tough selling your home in this economy.” And lest we forget about this past summer’s “staycation” campaign, which is essentially vacationing in your own town to save. So where does this leave our pets?

Surprisingly, this appears to be one area many people are digging deep to not skimp on, at least when it comes to food and essentials. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans will spend $43.4 billion this year on their pets, which is 26-percent higher than in 2004. The trickier part is when it comes to veterinary care, where diagnostic tests and follow-up care can be costly. When your pocket book starts dictating the level of care you can provide your pet, it’s never a good situation.

I am fortunate in that my flock hasn’t been in need of emergency care or come down with visible signs of illness. I buy them the same brand of food they are used to, and they (along with my rabbit) still seem to consume a larger portion of fresh veggies than I do.

After assessing how the state of the economy has my hit home, I came up with two areas where perhaps the birds have felt it, too. One is shorter showers; my goal is five minutes. The other is turning off the lights. The birdroom light is now on a timer, and as a result, the flock is on a more formal schedule. Lights out by 9!

Looking back, these really aren’t hardships at all. I really don’t need a 15-minute shower, especially while California is undergoing a major drought. The birds prefer to be on sidelines most of the shower anyway (conure Ollie on his shower perch and cockatiel Gracie on the shower caddy). Before the light timer, their light, more often than not, was turned off when the house was locked up for the night.

Times might be challenging and the economy unpredictable, but for many of us, our pets are the one reliable beacon of comfort. This is why we would rather skip our morning coffee run than the weekly bird-toy shopping spree.

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