I’m all for education and enlightenment. I love it when I learn something new. Love it when I try something and it works. The first time I heard Robin Shewokis speak on enrichment, it made me think about what I could do to enrich Parker, Pepper and Nyla’s lives. And I think my birds are happier and busier because of what I learned from her.

Hearing Mark Hagen talk about nutrition had the same effect. And so did listening to Dr. Susan Friedman. And Barbara Heidenreich. And most every other person I ever heard do a presentation. There was one exception to this: I went to a presentation years ago and the presenter described what African Greys looked like. All I could think of was, “Wait a minute. I paid how much to hear this?”

When I was writing an article for “Birds USA,” I turned to my pool of experts to get quotes, confirmations and fact checking. One of my first emails was to Melanie Allen of the Hagen Pet Food Company I asked her a question and it wasn’t that she was evasive, but she wouldn’t come right out and give me the answer to my question. Using the Socratic method of teaching and after a volley of emails back and forth, she got me to answer my own question. I knew I’d scored when her final email read like this:

You got it!

I felt like I had just won at Wimbledon. Sometimes learning isn’t always discovering something entirely new. Occasionally it’s just confirming something you had already suspected or presumed. On the flip side, you also possess a bullshit detector and this can also start beeping if you hear someone say something that is complete and utter crap. I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating. Susan Friedman taught me the 8 most lovely words to use in these instances.

“Can you show me the data on that?”

Sometimes our gut instinct tells us whether something is good or right or correct. You may not know “for sure” but if you’re reading this, you’re sitting in front of one of the best teachers ever invented. I will now give you a quote from my Mother who unfailingly came back with this when I asked her how to spell something:

“Look it up.”

Now, that’s all well and good, but it’s kind of hard to look something up in the dictionary if you don’t know how to spell it. This was before spellcheck or even personal computers for that matter, so you really did have to have a vague idea how to spell something in order to look it up. This was lost on my Mother.  But in the computer age, things have changed and it’s now a breeze to look up just about anything. And if that fails, just call Melanie Allen from Hagen.


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