By DR. PIERRE B. BLAND
From time to time things happen which amaze and delight me as none other. It is true the most amazing things in life are often the simplest and on the surface, seemingly the most mundane. I acquired a new patient. Her name is Peter and she is a very special Amazon Parrot.
I here you asking “Her name is “Peter”?” She was purchased after several years of ownership from another and it was only then discovered “he” was actually an 8 year old “she.” Exposure to other male Amazons and laying a clutch of eggs will lead to such a realization. That was 42 years ago. So Peter is 50 years old.
Though a life span of 50-70 years is typical, 50 years is phenomenal especially since Peter has out lived 3 other housemates. Most of my geriatric patients are in their high teens, a very few topping out at 20, and I have even worked with a few non-human primates in their 30s, but a 50 year old parrot is still impressive. She hasn’t been seen by a veterinarian in at least 20 years, so her owner figured it was past time. A good decision but still a bit concerning. Old age and exotic pets can be a very bad combination. The best option in this situation is preparation: schedule and plan your exam to be efficient and thorough while praying for the best. Peter and her owner arrived right on time for the appointment, safely ensconced in a pet carrier.
I always start my avian exams with at least a 10 minute interview to access the pet’s living conditions along with the owner’s knowledge and husbandry practices. The fact she arrived in a carrier and not on his shoulder was an initial sign of a great owner. We sat the carrier on the exam table and opened the door as we engaged our conversation. A green head with a slightly over grown beak and inquisitive dark eyes emerged from the carrier. I greeted her and let her know it was ok to come out. While we continued our conversation and Peter exited the carrier, I kept a casual but aware eye on her, noticing her breathing, posture, movements and attitude. She took her time making an entrance and in time perched on her owner’s shoulder. After about 5 minutes on her perch, Peter showed me her true courage, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.
Typically once a bird establishes itself on the owner’s shoulder, the examination process becomes a squawking, flapping, and height stress event. Surprisingly, she began to climb down from her owner’s shoulder and towards me. I held still as she approached me, as she repeatedly stated, “Hi, my name is Peter.” She proceeded to climb up my arm and began to perch on my shoulder. After five minutes on my shoulder, I decided to attempt the physical exam. With slow, deliberate movements, she didn’t mind being restrained, wrapped in a nice soft towel. I was able to perform my exam, retrieve a blood and fecal sample, and give Peter a bit of s spa day with a wing , nail, and beak trim. It was amazing I was able to perform so many procedures and with so little trouble. Peter is truly an amazing girl.
As we departed the client and I exchanged compliments about how well the visit went. He was especially impressed with my bedside manor and how much Peter liked me. I explained obviously we are both kindred spirits, birds of a feather: we both have the same name and I am only 6 years older than her.
Dr. Bland is a practitioner in Oakland Park, Florida. He can be reached at 954-673-8579.