Thursday, January 22, 2009

Parrots.... They're Not Easy

Not that I thought having a parrot would be easy. But it sure as hell isn't.

It's been a fairly traumatic week. Not one but two of our major clients, BBC and the Press Agency, have failed to pay us on time (and still no money from either), leading to knock on repercussions in paying off our credit cards and paying back my Mum and Dad the money they lent us for Lulu. That's nearly £2000 "missing" this month, which is a hell of a lot when you're budgeting down to the last fiver.

Emily's earrings had their six weeks up on Tuesday, so she was supposed to take them out and put new ones in. The taking out was fine. The putting new ones in wasn't. To put it in a nutshell, Emily was scared to death of putting new ones in. To put it in an even finer nutshell, I tried putting them in for her and couldn't - it was as if the holes at the back had already healed up, and I wasn't about to punch through the flesh of my hysterical daughter for the sake of a bit of sparkly stuff. That's cutting a very long and very difficult story very short....Tuesday wasn't a good day.

So....we're leaving them to heal up. She can have her ears pierced again in a few year's time if she still wants them done.

Meanwhile, amid all this joy, Lulu decided to temporarily become the parrot from hell, at least as far as Emily was concerned. For a couple of days, she took to biting Emily at every opportunity and even when she was in her cage, running at Emily (and only Emily) through the bars, feathers all fluffed up, trying to attack. Last night when she was out of her cage she flew right at Emily's face in full on attack mode, only fended off by a split second arms-up-to-face by Emily. Much tears ensued, not only from Emily. When Greys bite, it *hurts*. A lot, lot, lot. Facial bites in particular frequently require stitches. You should see some of the pictures I've seen. Having a Grey in fury flying at your ten year old for no apparent reason is not a great thing to witness. We felt like complete failures - failing to help Lulu feel at ease with Emily, failing to help Emily feel at ease with Lulu, failing to do any damn thing and likely to spend the next sixty years with a psycho, Emily-hating parrot.

Ahem. Did I mention it's been traumatic?

Like I said, parrots - they're not easy creatures to get to grips with. I'm pleased to report however that today has been a lot better, Emily and Lulu wise. Lulu's still being a bit anti-Emily (heaven knows why, Emily's had the patience of a saint with her) but hasn't outright attacked and isn't running at her. She shared Emily's sugar puffs at breakfast time ;-) She will even (occasionally) fly to Emily for a sip of fruit juice and is certainly happy to be handed treats and toys by Emily and for the odd stroke. On the plus side, Lulu is an absolute darling at other times. She's very affectionate to me and to Jon (**especially** Jon, lol) but for some reason she seems to be playing up with Emily, which is of course deeply upsetting for Emily who'd been so looking forward to having Lulu and who really hasn't done anything at all to disturb or frighten Lulu, so it's a bit of a mystery.

Sigh. We'll get there. Lulu has a "forever home" here; we're not about to give up on her. Lots of love and patience are required; it's very unfortunate that she's being fearful of the child in the family rather than one of us grownups who might not take it so personally, but we'll get there. The issue seems to be mostly related to territorial behaviour in the room where her cage is, since she's so much more amenable to Emily in any other room. We're so used to cats, but of course cats are predators - parrots are prey animals and their psychology is sooooo different. I've asked for lots of advice on a parrot forum, but they're....not very helpful. Very cliquey and I think rather disapproving of anyone who has both parrots and cats (not that that's remotely the issue here). So we'll figure it out ourselves. Everyone's loved - it'll work. Today was already better. Repeat: we're all loved. We'll get there.

From everything I've read and observed, I'm thinking at the moment that perhaps Lulu is jealous of Emily as being her (Lulu's) rival for our attention. Greys are renowned for their intelligence, but as I think I said before, it's believed to be like having a permanent toddler in the house, including the emotional tantrums. I know Emily's hurting over the situation - and there have been many tears - but I'm so proud of her for persevering and for realising that a) it's not Lulu's "fault", she's not being "naughty" and that however she's behaving there's a reason behind it, a reason that we need to understand and that b) it's not Emily's "fault" either, and that with love and patience it **will** pass. It simply has to. Cats are fairly low maintenance compared to parrots, lol - and even though we were fully aware of what we were taking on, we're still learning.

Education has been happing amid all the chaos. Emily has developed a sudden and very deep passion for computer science and has been reading and researching all kinds of things about how computers work and about viruses and internet security. She has now upgraded her "when I grow up" list to include computer expert as well as archaeologist, author, baker, chef and fashion designer. Bless her. We've also been learning more about birds in general and about viruses and bacterial infections, the human immune system and the development of medicines. Oh, and maths. It's amazing how long it can take to do a few sums when you have a beautiful companion swinging upside down from one claw and warbling at you ;-))

Anyway, I've rambled again. Some photos. These first were of Lulu in Emily's blue room last weekend (when she was only half psycho, lol)

These others are from today and yesterday downstairs while Emily and I were "working".....although how much of that is possible with such a lovely distraction still remains to be seen. The first are of Lulu in flight to Emily's hand for a sip of fruit juice, although in typical fashion I managed to lose this rare and joyous moment in a silhouette because of the light coming through the dining room windows....grrrrr!

Others include Lulu enjoying her bungee rope - she loves this and it bounces about wildly as she climbs and hangs from it - and an improvised table top play stand which used to be a shelf unit in the bathroom! Oh, and her ladyship lording it over us all with a carrot stick, naturally.

When she's not being psycho, Lulu's adorable :-))


Hazel said...

It's probably to do with Emily being young. Dogs can be the same; snappy with children. I think they're unnerved by them and can sense any nervousness in them iyswim.

Hoping things get better for you very soon. xxx

Rebecca K. O'Connor said...

Patience and work. You'll get there! Lulu is lovely.



Barbara said...

Hi There,
Sounds like Emily is a very special girl for being so patient with Lulu. I would start with taking advantage that things seem to go well away from the territory. Build the relationship there by training some simple behaviors like targeting, waving a foot, and turn around on cue. This relationship can be built and I think both Emily and Lulu will learn each other is the source of great fun with a little positive reinforcement training : )

All the best!
Barbara Heidenreich

My-parrot-and-me said...

Lou lou is amazing isnt she? Awwwwww!

Nikki said...

Thanks Hazel, and thanks very much for the encouragement Barbara and Rebecca! And hugs and kisses for you, Em-bear :-)) xxx