EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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Eye of the Optimist-having a pet

Though I am an animal lover, I have only kept a pet rice paddy fighting fish at home before. It had a very short life span, which a neighbour abruptly shortened while I was away one weekend and took her job of fish care so seriously that she used toxic detergents to clean out the fish bowl because algae had gathered (-a thing I specifically told her not to do. Yeah, that woman had "issues".) 

Sure, there were family pets over the childhood years: two cats and a dog. With or without children, however, I personally thought it was not good for the pets and very selfish and wasteful of the humans to indulge in pet keeping at home. Being single for a lot of my life, I must also say that keep pets seemed like an unnecessary and foolish expense. Anyway, most homes do not have adequate space for dogs, for instance, and most people do not give more social animals like dogs enough opportunity for social interaction with their own kind, not to mention exercise. They may be neglected, though people can drive pets to become highly neurotic with smothering and too much human attention. Furthermore, pets usually do not get enough exercise and are kept too confined. Then there are the freaks who indulged in buying "exotic pets" like wild cats and pigs, which they could not look after properly, of course, and often escaped or were released into human society once they became too big, too expensive and too troublesome to keep. If they were not injured by their animal, it may have been injured itself by abandoned, or it might have harmed humans and other animals out in society. Did you know that there are more feral endangered animals living in the US than all the endangered wild animals all tolled? Yeah, reports of panthers, crocodiles turning up in backyards, city streets and parks keep coming in. Apparently, there are deformities and mutations, as well as distemper among some of these strange beasts.

Despite all these misgivings, I have always dreamed of owning a bird. Now I have a tiny Gouldian Finch. He is utterly delightful and very pretty. He whistles, sings, and plays. I found as large a cage as I could get and fit into my one room, and it adjoins a smaller cage. Regardless of his cage size, he is let out into the room a few days a week. He is very well behaved and clean. With one favourite perch in an ideal location atop the inner door sill of a sliding inner door, what little mess he makes stays in one place. He is not like a little mammal, which would run amok getting into little dangerous dark places, tearing and chewing at things, climbing on furniture and getting into human food. No, he just flies a few times back and forth across the room, hanging out on the main perch, but landing very briefly at 2 or three high locations in the room. He does not seem motivated to squeeze into little places he shouldn't be in. He has not even gone into the bathroom, as far as I know, though the door has often been left open to extend his flying space. No, we know our roles and our places in this household. He sticks to his bird things and bird places, and I stick to my human things in my human space. 

Until today, it was a job catching him to put him back in his cage in the evening sometimes. When he gets sleepy, he becomes passive, and it is easy to quickly grab him with a hand and transport him to the cage. However, there have been times when he still energetic, and pursuing him has made him playfully engaged in a game of bird and human. Today, however, things changed. He finally went back into the cage on his own volition and power. That is because I resisted the maternal temptation to leave food and water for him up on his door sill perch. Perhaps the bigger cage and the branches I laid atop it made the prospect much more attractive. Whatever his motivation, I returned home after having let him out of the cage around 9:30 in the mid-afternoon to find him feeding in side the cage

Another new life experience: having a pet. Having the little tyke around is a great source of joy. He sings to me each day, and in return I keep him well fed, warm and amused. It is not difficult looking after him. I am around for at least part of the day, most days, and he has things to do when I am not there.

I am thinking about whether to find him a bird companion, perhaps one of his kind, but the experts say this type of bird does not suffer alone. It can make its life more interesting to have company. I am concerned about compatibility, and how I could manage two of them.

Anyway, I can say that it has been an uplifting experience to have such a fine and beautiful little creature to be my companion. I am glad and grateful he's with me.













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