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Subject: Cleaning Day

Management sends a memo to African greys Parker and Pepper that they'll be helping out during "Cleaning Day," in their own ways.

Patricia Sund

Dept: African Greys
From: Management
Subject: Cleaning Day

I realize you two want to help me when I am cleaning your cages. But it’s difficult to clean when you are playing tug-of-war with your toys as I remove them to clean. I take you out of your cages before I clean them, but sometimes you hop up to the cage top to watch what I am doing. I don’t mind this, but do you think you can cool it on grabbing toys out of my hand when I am wiping down the perches? And Pepper, can you leave the reading glasses that live on top of my head alone?Subject: Cleaning Day, Memo to Parker & Pepper

It reminds me of a lady who confessed she had a problem with her not-so-friendly Amazon parrot, and she wanted some advice. She told me that every time she tried to clean his cage, he tried to bite her. I asked her, "Have you considered removing your parrot from the cage before you begin cleaning it?” She was amazed at how logical this was. I was amazed she hadn’t thought of this before.

Our situation is a little different. While it is important that you have a clean environment, I still prefer that you be involved in the process. I think it’s good for you to be stimulated by activities around the house as well as observing just how much work goes into caring for you. Not that you give a rat’s hiney, but it certainly makes me feel better.

For instance, when I sweep the front porch, I like to have you watch what I am doing. I also like to watch your little heads go back and forth following the broom. It’s as though you’re watching a tennis match, and I find it very amusing, but then, I’m always good for a cheap laugh. Hey, I get my laughs my way, you get yours your own way.

When I fold the laundry, I’ll sit on the living room floor with the clean items and hand you each a sock to "fold” while I wrestle with the big stuff. Of course, I learned a long time ago that Parker’s sock is returned to me in shreds, and Pepper hikes hers over to the China cabinet and tries to hide it underneath. So I now use the same pair of socks for you to fold. That way I’m not always replacing my socks. And now I always know where to look when I’m short one sock.

When I am making a big batch of "Chop,” I know you both like to stand on the edge of the 3-gallon pot and sample the goods as I’m bagging up all 151 portions for the freezer. You are very good about this and not once have either of you gone tail-over-teakettle into the pot.

If I’m vacuuming, one of you is riding around on my shoulder as "Jaws,” our vacuum, sucks up various toy parts, newspaper bits, carrot chunks and soggy beans that Mattie the dog missed during her cleanup rounds. If I am straightening the office, you’re there watching me, occasionally making comments and trying to poop on the dog.

I enjoy having you "help” me around the house and, while you two tend to be pains in the keester, I attempt make allowances for your participation. Why? If I have to clean, you two are going to watch. Some of these things, I do for me.

— Management

Previous Memo: Two-Way Conversation

Read more "Memos To Parker & Pepper" here.

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Posted: April 11, 2014, 2:30 p.m. PDT

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