Sad news today from Planet Josh. If you've read the "Inhabitants" section of the blog, you might remember that we have a few pets here on the planet. Along with Buddy the dog and Chewy the chinchilla we had Zeke - an African Lovebird, who was actually our first pet. Zach's first pet.
Zeke left us this morning.
He was only 7. Lovebirds are the smallest of the parrot family, but are parrots nonetheless and his life expectancy should have been closer to 15 - 20 years. So this was very sudden, very unexpected. And very, very devastating for Zach and I who were witness to it happening.
Zach is heartbroken and haunted. Whatever happened was fast, but not silent. I won't go in to it further. As funny and wry as he is, Zach is also a sensitive soul so this is a tough one. And it's really his first personal experience with death. He knew my friend Bernadette who passed away in July, but he only knew her as my friend, they weren't close.
Zeke was his baby. First pet Zach ever had. I found the breeder online as there didn't seem to be any close to us, and he was actually shipped all the way from Virginia! Zach and I picked him up at the airport. We got him because I'd read that lovebirds who are hand-raised from babies will be very friendly and you can handle them, they'll hang out on your shoulder.... I thought that would be cool for Zach. The breeder told me he'd been hand-raised, but he was pretty bitey when we got him. We tried really hard to get him used to being out and handled, but he never really got to that point. He'd be ok sitting on Zach for a bit, but would really go to town with the biting whenever we'd try to pick him up or hold him. Eventually we kind of gave up on that, but Zeke was very cute, really amazing colors, and I'd had birds growing up so it was nice just to have him around. He was hilarious when he was younger, used to spend a lot of time hanging upside down from the top of his cage.
He was a grouch though! Silly bird. He was also very territorial. Whenever anyone came in to the house that he decided shouldn't maybe be there, he'd squawk like he was sounding an alarm. Zeke the watch-bird. He'd also yell when he decided it was sleep time and we hadn't covered him up yet. And bed time for Zeke was very consistent - if he wasn't covered by 9pm, he'd let you have it.
If my mom was visiting and she was wearing a pink shirt? He'd freak.
The bottom of his cage was clear plastic material. Sometimes, you could catch him messing with Buddy - he'd hop along the bottom of the cage, tucked right in to the clear space, and he'd run back and forth along the bottom of the cage so that Buddy would see him and go press his nose up against where Zeke was and follow him. It looked very much like they were playing.
Still, Mr Attack Bird would go after you if you got a body part anywhere near him. I'd have to fend him off while I was cleaning his cage or putting in new toys, otherwise I'd get bitten. He'd puff himself all up to try to look bigger too, like, I'm a big, bad-ass bird, yo, check-it! Now I'ma bite you...
Um, he may not have said "yo". But he could have.
Zach is going through the things we naturally go through, he's wondering if it was his fault, he's offering to give up his computer if he could have Zeke back, and unfortunately, re-living this morning quite a bit. I put dear Zeke in a box, wrapped in a small towel, and then also some of Zach's old t-shirts. We put a couple of his toys and his fury tent-bed in with him as well. Zach said a loving good-bye through the shirts (he couldn't bring himself to look at Zeke again) and Zeke is now resting in the back yard next to the house.
A little while after we buried him, Zach and I watched a tiny (probably not much bigger than Zeke) brown with white spots bird, hopping around the patio. Then we watched him hop right over to where Zeke is now. Zach has decided that was Zeke, in his new form. I decided that was a cool thing to think.
Good-bye, Mr Grouchy-Bird-Pants. We will miss you and your amazing colors, your tough-bird protectiveness, and your very cute face with the peach forehead. Zach loved you very much, and hopes you are enjoying your new life as a cute brown spotty bird who can actually fly...
R.I.P. Zeke March 2003 - November 2010.
Planet Josh will not be the same without you.