Saying goodbye to my little birdie buddy.
Twenty years ago we brought home a little bird with a big attitude. A grey cockatiel we named Cracker Jack – CJ for short – because of that attitude. He loved getting his head scratched – would sit quietly enjoying every scratch. But never allowed anyone to touch him beyond his head. He’d quickly take a plug of skin out of your finger if you dared.
His favorite thing was looking at written words. My children were young when we got CJ. Early the next morning after we got him, I heard him singing away. I walk into the room to find my youngest daughter sitting next to his cage, reading him a story. She was holding the book so he could see each page as she read – and he was singing and talking gibberish back to her for the entire book. He was a well read bird until the day he passed.
He could whistle a bit, he would give kisses when asked for them, and his little beak punched probably a million holes in papers around the house over the years.
Over the past few years, CJ suffered from separation anxiety. He HAD TO be right next to one of us, unless he was ‘in bed’ (cage covered up at night). If he wasn’t right next to one of us – he would scream (and scream, and scream, and scream). Though it wasn’t always easy, I understood his anxiety about separation. Birds such as CJ (a cockatiel) are flock animals. They are not solitary animals and it is their nature to call to their flock when separated. We were CJ’s flock…and he was adamant about calling to us if we were more than arms reach away.
So…over the past 5 or so years, CJ sat with me every single day- right at my desk. He’s probably read every single page of the AAFCO rule book (I’d show him the pages and many of those pages have holes in them). If you’ve ever talked to me on the phone – you ‘met’ CJ and heard his commentary. If you’ve ever watched a TruthaboutPetFood.com video with my voice in it…you’ve heard CJ in the background. He had a sixth sense to know when I was recording something…he wanted his two cents worth in there. He had to be removed from my room when I used to be on AAFCO meeting calls – everyone on the call could hear his commentary and it tended to be distracting (to them, not me).
This past Monday afternoon I left the house for a trip to a pet food trade show – I told CJ bye, see you in two days. That night, while I was at dinner with friends – my daughter called me with the news. CJ was in bed, and she briefly heard him thrash in the cage. She went to check on him, and found him at the bottom of his cage. He was gone. It was quick, which was a blessing. But I sure wish I would have been here to tell him good-bye.
The next morning – in my hotel room a thousand miles from home – I heard CJ’s scream as plain as day. He was telling me he’s ok…he’s with all the others we’ve lost over the years. And I know he was telling me he’d be one more in the army to help us fight to protect pets. (He’s read the AAFCO book multiple times, I KNOW he can be of assistance to us!)
The house is certainly very quiet without him. Miss you little birdie buddy.
Susan and family.