If Oboe died, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t shell out $75 for another lovebird because, let’s face it, lovebirds are annoying. Oboe’s a brat. He bites my nose. He poops in my hair. He squawks in my ear. He wrecks my stuff. He taunts my cat.But he gives me kisses. He nibbles the tears off my face when I cry. He runs up and down my body in the bathtub. He splashes and plays in my bathwater. He sits on top of my computer screen and puffs his little green chest out and squawks at me with pure enthusiasm.
I love how exuberant he is, how joyfully he lives his life. I love watching him practice his extraordinary flying skills. I even love watching him eat. If there is something in his bowl he doesn’t want, he doesn’t just nudge it aside like the bigger birds do – he ejects it with such vigor it ricochets around his cage.
I love how confident and smart and funny he is. I love how he comes to me for cuddles. I love tucking him in at night and uncovering him in the morning.I adore his stubborn, cheerfully obnoxious personality. Oboe has a wicked case of Oppositional Defiance Disorder. If I want him to do something, I either have to convince him it was his idea, or I have to very skillfully bribe him, or I have to convincingly pretend I don’t care one way or the other.
I remembered all these things last week as the vet bills kept mounting and I kept handing over my credit card.I remembered watching him hatch. I remembered hand-feeding him as a scrawny little naked baby bird. I remembered how lonely he was when his big brother and sister learned how to fly before he did, so I brought him downstairs and he helped me make a pizza. I remembered watching him learn to fly. And I remembered teaching him to come when I called him (but only if he felt like it, of course).
Most of all, I remembered the time he flew away and enjoyed an hour of freedom, flying around the neighbourhood, perching in trees, chattering with the wild birds. And then he flew down and landed in my hair and let me bring him home.
So, when he was injured and at the vet’s and his brave little heart was pounding in his little green chest, I had no choice but to be philosophical about the money. It’s only money, I told myself. And I meant it.
But I do wish it weren’t so much money. It cost way more than I was bracing myself for, and I’ll be digging into my RRSP to pay for it. Coincidentally, there was an article in the Citizen last week about an increasing number of people giving up their pets because they can’t afford the vet bills. I also came across this eye-opening story in the Washington Post: Pets, Vets and Debts, in which a renegade vet urges people to start saying no to their vets!