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just finished your book, The Parrot Who Thought
She Was a Dog, I cried. Poor, sweet Sarah.
I am mom to four rescued parrots, all with a story.
There is Demi, the Red-Lored Amazon, presumably wild-caught,
who had her spine broken as well as her left wing broken
in nine places by an abusive owner. Then there is Simon,
a Pionus, who was plucked by his owner.
Yep, you read correctly, she plucked his feathers out
until he was naked. He literally shook so hard when
humans would approach him that his beak chattered and
he nearly died from the toxicity and infection that
raged through his body due to the plucking. Due to the
extreme physical abuse these two endured they will never
have the opportunity to fly.
Jangles is my little quaker who was put out on the curb
with a sign that stated "$50". And then there
is my beloved Max, the Yellow-Naped Amazon, who I took
when I broke things off with my fiance who didn't know
how to care for the bird he just "had to have".
I will never let the two who could actually fly have
the opportunity to do so simply out of my own fear of
losing them forever. The thought of them being injured
or scared or whatever is too much for me to bear. They
were both hand raised so don't really know what they
are missing out on, as was Simon, however Demi, having
come from the wild saddens me to no end.
What did she leave behind there? Possibly babies given
her sweet, caring nature. I am also mom to three rescue
dogs, Athena, Shepherd/Collie/Rottweiler mix, Emma (picture
of the two of us attached), Shar-Pei/Min Pin mix and
Ollie, 12-14 year old Chihuahua/Dachsund mix who just
came to me in May with an improperly healed broken jaw
and just one tooth, AND one rescue Siamese cat, Kitty.
I completely relate to the chaos of your house, there
are always days like that. But knowing my babies feel
safe at last and are finally experiencing the love they
so deserve comforts my mind.
Thank you for your book. I couldn't put it down. Just
wanted to reach out and tell you that you have a fan
in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
Jean Marie E.
Reader review, email
loved your book. I have been very ill this summer
and it was just the medicine I needed. You and your
husband sound like me and mine, same small house lifestyle,
which I found so funny.
My love is guinea pigs (yes I never grew up). I take
in rescues and foster or adopt them. My poor husband
puts up with at least 6 large cages in our tiny livingroom.
It is so satisfying to take an abused, neglected gp
and fix them up to be healthy and happy. My last one
was a pregnant gp, so malnurished she had no hair.
Now she is beautiful and sweet. Male babies adopted
out, but one female baby remains with her for companionship.
I look forward to your new books.
Reader review, email
I just finished reading "The Parrot Who Thought
She Was a Dog," last night, and I had to write
to you. I loved the book, but I have to admit, I cried
my eyes out at times. Of course, I was guffawing loudly
enough at other times to irritate my husband, (who doesn't
enjoy reading,) so I guess it evens out.
I admire your work with the birds, and hope you continue
to do so. I know it takes an extraordinary amount of
time, effort, sweat, finances, and caring to do what
you are doing, but it's nice to know there are folks
like you who go the extra mile to be a good mom for
I too, believe that birds are special folks, and wish
that the undomesticated wild ones could be left alone
in their own homes, in whichever continent they may
be found. Alas, just as with illegal drugs, there will
always be people who will provide them if there are
those willing to pay for them.
Keep up the great work, and be sure to notify Amazon.com
when your next bird book comes out. I don't know any
little kids, so the children's book wouldn't be a good
Thanks again, and take good care.
Reader review, email
read your book…and enjoyed it immensely. I see
a bit of myself in you as I go to great lengths to accommodate
my old male cat. My deep sympathy to you at the loss
of such a dear pet/child.
reading the book and everything on your website, I’m
still a bit confused about why Sarah wouldn’t
come down from the trees. She could fly, she could climb,
she was being approached by ladders/machinery…I
don’t understand why she didn’t or couldn’t
come down. Was it a mental thing?
the book, wished there had been a ton of pictures—of
the house, of the garden, of the other animals, even
Reader review, email
Thank you for coming
out to Carmichael last week. It was just what we were
looking for and I think the audience had a great time.
We would definitely like to have you come back again
some time so we will be in touch, possibly when you
next book comes out, or to present a workshop on memoir
writing. I hope the next book is a big hit.
Reader review, email
Oh Nancy, I just fiished
Sarah's story and what a story it was! Sarah was quite
the personality and a maddening delight. I so admire
you, and Kerry, for all the critter TLC that is given
in your home-you especially and Kerry for moral support.
I just spent time on your website and was so glad to
see the parrot photos. Watching Animal Planet as I do
I've seen these birds in all their glory. In the coloration
of fish and birds nature outdoes itself. Thank goodness
for color TV! I do hope, one of these days, you and
the parrots will show up on AP, my favorite channel.
Thank you for telling Sarah's story (and the other animals
as well). It was an absolutely delightful read.
I wanted to let you know that I am a fellow animal
lover and just finished reading your book today (The
Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog). I loved it
and I thought it was beautifully written.
I wanted to write
to ask you if you would ever consider opening up your
heart to all sentient animals and stop eating meat.
There is no great difference between your beloved dogs
and cats and those animals we call 'food' who suffer
so much on factory farms, during travel to the slaughterhouse
and at the slaughterhouse itself.
would be glad to speak with you about it sometime. I
am just a regular middle aged mother (and psychotherapist),
not a fan/kook. I know you have such a big heart, Nancy,
please consider what I have said.
I finished your book
"The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog"
last night. I had received it as a Christmas gift,
as I too am a bird rescue person. I started it, not
knowing what to expect, and I couldn't put it down.
I have to admit I was crying like a baby when I read
how you had found Sarah. I knew you did everything
in your power to get her to come back and I don't
know what else you could have done. I don't think
a lot of people understand the bond you can develop
with these amazing creatures, who are undoubtedly
a scale above us in intelligence.
My Molly, a little Senegal parrot, was adopted from
an owner who didn't expect the noise, mischief, and
mess. She was only six months old when I adopted her.
Her owner had called and asked if I would be interested
in adopting yet another bird. I already had a number
of cockatiels and a little Zebra finch, plus a wonderful,
gentle Newfoundland named Zeus, and really didn't
think I should take on more birds. She offered the
cage, toys, and everything that went with her. When
the woman showed up at my house she was waving her
arms and hands and showing me how she could swing
the little parrot around on her hand and I'm thinking
oh wow, I don't think she knows how to handle this
little girl. She informed me she had found her cat
trying to squirm it's way into her cage. Then, quite
abruptly, Molly flew to my chest, crawled under my
neck and froze there, trembling. It looked like I
had been adopted by her!
To make a long story as short as possible, I was participating
in a neighborhood rummage sale a few months after
I had taken in Molly and she was making enough noise
from inside the house to draw attention from the neighbors
who were looking over my assorted wares. She HAD to
be in the same room I was and announced her dissatisfaction
quite loudly if I wasn't. We had bonded almost immediately
and I was fascinated with her intelligence. So I thought
I'd bring her out in the sun and fresh air and attempted
to carry her cage outside. None of my birds have clipped
wings because I also felt it was essential to allow
them to fly in the house. Birds fly - simple as that.
If they don't it almost seems unnatural to disallow
them to, with safety measures in place of course.
Not to mention, paper towel manufacturers must love
I had a little trouble navigating the heavy cage as
I had a few steps down to the ground. I made the terrible
mistake of balancing the cage on my knee, unknowingly
popping the cage clasps and allowing the cage to collapse
inward. It all happened so fast and I knew it was
going to have a bad ending. Molly freaked - rightfully
so! She took off in a fright and was probably as astounded
as the rest of us as we watched her soar into the
woods behind our home.
My son had been staying with me for the weekend and
had been sleeping in, but heard the commotion and
flew out of the house. He was on my roof in an instant
trying to locate her and calling for her - I was standing
there with mouth open, in shock, and already grieving.
He was on his cell phone contacting the Humane Society,
the local radio station, the police department, etc.
He was upset with me because he knew this was going
to break my heart and said mom, if it has wings and
it can fly, do not take it outside! We tried to gather
our wits and see how far Molly had flown - he took
one side of the small stand of woods, I took the other
and we walked slowly, calling and waiting for her
response. She was responding and she was scared. I
knew all of her calls and she was making her little
'what's going on?' whistle. We actually tracked her
down in a scraggly, very tall jack pine. She was on
a branch very high up and clinging very closely to
the trunk of the tree. She seemed to have NO clue
how to fly down. A neighbor offered his extension
ladder as my son could not reach any low enough branch
that would support him. The minute he put the ladder
against the tree, she spooked and flew off into another
tree. After that, she went silent and we couldn't
Your story really hit home when you mentioned the
storm that Sarah had endured, because my story was
almost exactly the same. I could not believe the similarities!
An early spring storm hit that night, wind, lightning,
and rumbling thunder. I wondered if she could hold
on and even survive this. There was no sleep for us
that night. I could only imagine the terror my little
girl was feeling clinging to a tree, not knowing the
world she had entered. My son tried to comfort me,
saying things like she'll watch the other birds, she'll
know where to find food and water by following them
and maybe her wild instincts will kick in. I nodded
my head, knowing full well that Molly was hatched
in a fish tank with the other homely, naked chicks
with warming lights in a pet shop and had no clue
what being outside was about. Would she have any wild
instincts or are they lost in captivity? I didn't
know. For three days I did everything to taking out
the cockatiels in their cage and plunking them down
in a little clearing because she used to sit on top
of their cage and watch them, hoping for an opportunity
to bite a toe if she could. I thought their chatter
would allow her to hone in and possibly come down.
I was in the woods every morning with a flashlight,
thinking I must look like a crazy lady looking for
a lost child. I put up posters at the local grocery
stores. One store only allowed a small postcard size
card in their glass case and I broke down in tears
stating no one would even notice that and she was
my heart and I needed to find her.
On the third day I walked the woods again, sobbing,
my heart just aching, and reprimanding myself for
what I had done, and I finally went back into the
house because I was going to totally come apart again.
When you came upon Sarah it brought all those heartbreaking
moments back and I felt your heartbreak and flashbacked
to that moment while I was reading your story. Back
to my story - after I returned to the house, the phone
rang - I didn't want to answer but luckily I did -
a lady said are you Molly's mom? I said yes, I am!
My heart started to heal the very moment she said
she had Molly and this is my name, address, and phone
number. I called my son who was running errands, he
flew back home and away we went, almost getting a
speeding ticket as we held our breath, obviously trying
to slow down when we noticed a parked squad car. We
didn't care, we couldn't get there fast enough. The
officer didn't even glance at us.
Here's the spooky part. My real name is Shirley, but
I've been nicknamed Samantha/Sam most of my life.
Molly had flown a 3-4 mile path across a big body
of water, landed in another woods bordering a small
subdivision where I used to live - the same street
no less!! The woman's name was Shirley. She stated
she had heard this strange whistle (which is the first
line of When You Wish Upon a Star), which I had taught
Molly. She then said she knew right then it was not
a bird 'indiginous' to this area. She walked out on
her deck and something flew in her face. She said
she looked at her shoulder, there was Molly, she walked
into the house and called the Humane Society and they
said this was the missing parrot and that I was going
to be one happy bird owner! My son said he was curious
- he didn't know that many people named Shirley, he
told her my real name was Shirley. He asked her when
her birthday was, she said August 24th - the exact
same day as mine! My son gave me an astonished look
and said right then, 'if you don't believe in divine
intervention now, you better start.'
Shirley had her on a wicker étagère
in her bathroom, eagerly eating some cracked corn
that she had available for the wild birds. She said
she was very hungry and thirsty and had a little nick
above her beak, which might have been an owl or a
branch, but she seemed fine. I called "Molly"
very quietly - she froze - her eyes pinned as you
so often mentioned Sarah's eyes did - and she locked
on me and once again she flew to my chest, cuddled
under my neck once again and everyone just stood there,
their eyes tearing up. We took her home and she napped
off and on throughout the day on her play stand -
I couldn't leave her side. I put her next to my couch
and kept looking at her, not believing my amazing
luck. She'd occasionally open that one eye with her
beak tucked into her feathered back in that impossible
looking 180 degree freaky turn they do with their
heads. She was checking to make sure I was there too
and I think we both knew we'd had a happy ending here.
So a happy ending for me - not so happy for you with
Sarah, and I'm so sorry for that. This is a true,
true story, and I'm SO lucky I have my little love
back. I will never forget your story of Sarah, your
understanding of these wonderful creatures, and your
devotion to their rescue. I have 5 cockatiels, a spice
finch, 2 zebra finches, and my Molly. I don't know
that I'm going to take on more birds from unfortunate
situations, because I don't want to become a collector
either. Bless your heart for what you do and thank
you for a wonderful story about a wonderful spirit,
that only us bird lovers will ever understand.
Here's Molly chewing on one of Zeus's rib bones!!
Outrage is not the correct response - writing about
your experience is knowledge about doing the right
thing. Never, never
underestimate the call of the wild I suppose you'd
I am SO against capturing anything out of the wild,
I doubt they will never truly adapt.
I have asked many times in pet stores (just to make
a point obviously) whether these animals are wild
caught or hand raised. My worry is that they're not
going to tell you the truth.
Thank you even more for your response. I sincerely
connected with you the minute I received your book
and I will follow you faithfully from this point.
Have a wonderful 2010!
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