My friend Sandra’s Niece with Parker

I have many wishes, yet very few of them are for me. I like to think of wishes as hopes and dreams for the future.

Many of these wishes I have are for my friends who have animals, or work for and with animals. I have worked with quite a few species of animals and dearly loved every minute of it; even when I was getting crapped on, slimed, or otherwise dirtied up.

A very Young Parker

I’m not quite sure what it is, but like many of my friends, I have an empathy for animals, a feeling or compassion, and sometimes sadness.

I have very little power of my own to make things right in the world of rescuing and rehabilitating homeless animals. I can’t change the world with the blink of an eye. I would like to, but it’s not within my power.

The only time I ever heard of a complete sellout of dogs in rescues and humane societies was the weekend after Oprah aired a show on puppy mills. I saw the show which aired on a Friday I believe. Apparently, that weekend, there was a run on these rescue centers and dogs were flying out the door. Now that’s some power.

Mattie the “Wonder Dog.” I rescued her from the parking lot. She was a mess.

I would love to see some changes in the world, and I think slowly, it’s starting to happen.

People are feeding their birds better. The world has gotten out about what a decent diet is for birds and things have changed for the better in that area. Since the recent recalls of pet food, families are waking up and realizing that perhaps a raw diet is the way to go in feeding their dogs and cats. Or perhaps they haven’t gone that far, but they are at least feeding a decent, albeit more expensive dog food to their dogs and reaping the rewards through less Vet visits and happier, healthier pets living longer lives.

My friend Beverly’s dog Bodhi. She was found running the streets of Miami.

I’m pleased to see that the show “Dogtown” put Best Friends Animal Society on the map. The place is thriving and more and more animals are getting homes. I’m not familiar with their work entirely, but I simply love “Old Dog Haven.” I asked the people at Best Friends how the old dogs do in getting adopted. I was told they have incredible luck placing older dogs and I love this. This didn’t used to be so in most places.

A sweet old dog I played with at “Best Friends.”

I’m pleased to see the individual initiative people take to help others. Julie Ellison got a Facebook campaign out and asked people to send broken toys, toy parts, anything at all  that could be made into a toy. And man, did she get some boxes of stuff! She took that stuff and turned them into toys, enough for every bird at Gilcrease Sanctuary to have a toy. Julie did this on her own. She saw a need and made it happen.

Julie Ellison

Susan Friedman turned the Bird World on its collective ass a few years ago when she began the LLP (Living and Learning with Parrots) online training program. Thousands must have taken it by now and she has a steady, 18-month waiting list to take this incredible course.

Dr. Susan Friedman

Blogs have been started, bird boards and forums are all over the place and communication is rampant. Kris Porter’s book about parrot enrichment is now considered a reference book and people are actively searching for more and better information. I’ve seen the old, archaic information slowly fade away and people no longer believe that parsley is bad for their birds, that African Greys are one-person birds, (Well, if they did, they wouldn’t think that if they met Parker.) and an all-seed diet is going the way of the dial telephone.

But I’m an optimist. I want more. I want a home for every bird. I want optimum care and nutrition for our little guys. I want respect and love and training and some humor dammit!

Barbara Heidenreich is still making incredible videos and training her head off.

Robin Shewokis continues speaking and teaching people about foraging and enrichment.

Robin Shewokis

Rebecca O’Connor continues to write and continues to work at Ducks Unlimited. And of course we have a little adventure planned next Autumn.

Rebecca and Anakin

The Houston Parrot Festival is still going strong and I’ve figured out a schedule where I can actually attend again this year. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, but I can and this will be my fifth year.

I know! But we had fun!

Irene Pepperberg is making some noise and continues her work with Griffin and Arthur. She’ll be on an upcoming special on television.

Irena Schulz’s work at Bird Lovers Only continues and Snowball’s popularity hasn’t flagged a bit. There’s new stuff in the works for Snowball, and hopefully I’ll get up to Indiana this time after the Midwest Bird Festival to visit Irena and have a dance with Snowball.

The two “I’s” Irena Schulz and Irene Pepperberg.

I don’t know what my next “Big Adventure” is going to be, but as I continue writing and blogging, my world gets larger and my list of experiences gets longer.

I’d like to get back to the Cincinnati Zoo. I need a penguin fix! And they could always use some help.

Keeper Ricky Kinley with Henry

I need to get up to North Carolina to visit Ann Brooks at Phoenix Landing. So near and yet so far Ann is, but this is the year to do it. I’m hoping for all of these things and more. (I’m also hoping I can swing all of this work and still keep my day job, is what I’m hoping.)

I’m hoping that the Oasis Sanctuary does well with their “Pennies for Parrots” fundraiser. I know I donated.

I hope the MARS Rescue in Melbourne really takes off. We don’t have many good rescues in Florida, so I wish them well and hope their work keeps them thriving and growing.

Chris Burgr of MARS getting a smacker!

So you see, most of my wishes are for others. I can only help by educating, informing and writing about their work. I’m fairly fluent in the world of birds, but I think my work has become writing about them, the experts, the people who run the rescues and work with the animals and birds. If my shedding some light on what they do helps the public get a better understanding of how they function, then perhaps they too will build an empathy, an understanding which will provide a better future for all of our animal friends.

Merry Christmas!



December 25th 2010