Sep2006 TAGs



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A Tale of Two TAGs
(Part 2)

Continued from part 1 ...

That was it for me.  After all of our searching, and responding to people calling with found birds (who all ended up being cockatiels, except for one Congo, who we were able to reunite with his family) and cranks calling to tell us that they had our bird and were going to ‘release it into nature where it really belongs!’ I started mourning for my sweet (and yes, rotten) little bird.

When I say mourn, I mean it.  I couldn't eat or sleep for days.  I wouldn't pick up the phone.  I wouldn't answer the door.  I couldn't go to work.  All I could do was think about what a stupid mistake I'd made, and how I'd pay for it for the rest of my life by not having her in it.  I also thought about things that I won't go into detail about, like where she could be, what could have happened to her, etc.  I was torturing myself with these thoughts, because I felt like I deserved it.  And honestly, to this day, I still think I do.  I made a stupid mistake that had a terrible and lasting impact on everyone involved.

Friends stopped by with a sweet TAG in tow and insisted that borrow the bird to use as a sort of decoy to try to find Sammy.  They said to take him out in a cage, and let him make his noises, and maybe Sammy would hear and come see what was going on.  At first I resisted taking in a bird who looked so similar to Sammy.  I mean, not only was he another TAG, but he was her brother.  He was a product of the same mother and father, just from a clutch of eggs two years after Sammy.  But they convinced me to do it, so I did.  We took him out to the park and the cemetery (both of which are within a mile of our house, and very bird-friendly) where he sat in his cage, completely silent.  I have to laugh now as I think about it.  He was so cute and sweet, and totally baffled by the daily field trips where we sat under trees and tried to get him to say or do anything, and where he resisted in true parrot form.

I'm sure that their ultimate goal was to help me to move on, to try another bird, to love another bird, really.  And of course, they were successful.  The new TAG was adorable and sweet.  My fiancé bonded with him.  My roommate bonded with him.  I was standoffish, and while I recognized what a wonderful bird we had on our hands, I didn't want to get too close to him.  To this day, he's still bonded better with my best friend and my husband than he is with me ... and looked so much like Sammy that  Ditto seemed like the perfect name (although a distinctly different personality).

We didn't make as many mistakes with Ditto as we did with Sammy.  Ditto sleeps in his cage, he is not the Lord of the Manor the way Sammy was its Lady.  He is very much an equal, rather than the boss.  He is handled by everyone who comes into contact with him so that he'll be less likely to grow so attached to one person that that person becomes the only one he wants.  Of course, the differences in their personalities also accounts for some of that.

After three years without Sammy, I finally realized it was time to let go.  I went to my tattoo artist and got a beautiful memorial tattoo for her.  It was and is a bittersweet reminder of what I lost when that little bird let go of my finger and flew away. 

Fast forward to yesterday.

Recently, my husband and I went back to our old house.  We are renting it out to my old roommate and some other friends.  We went by there to show them our new car.  When we pulled up in front of the house, we saw a bird cage in the front yard of the house across the street.  It was nearing dark, but after seeing a TAG was in the cage, I said to my husband, "That looks like Sammy."  We walked over there, and sure enough, one glance at her banded ankle, and it was indeed my Sammy!

As flabbergasted, shocked and bowled as I was when she flew away, I was even more so to find her living right across the street – despite all of our flyers, door-knocking, and 24-hour vigils calling to her for more than a week after her disappearance.  I asked the man of the house if they'd found the bird, and after a very quick hesitation, he admitted that they had.

Sammy recognized me, even after all these years.  When we got her home (after giving them a generous 'reward' for taking care of her for all these years) she allowed ample time for neck skritches and cuddling with me.  We immediately clipped her wings (she was still fully-flighted) and set about the task of figuring out how to integrate the 'old' bird into the new household.  When Sammy took off, we didn't have the two Chihuahuas we now have.  We only had big dogs.  She's not too thrilled about the little dogs.  She remembers the cat, but isn't too sure he can be trusted (a smart attitude for a bird to have, although he's proven himself to be somewhat trustworthy.  We are never 100% sure, though, and always err on the side of caution when it comes to kitty/bird interactions).  And although Ditto is a gentleman and a scholar when it comes to human interactions, he is indeed a thug when it comes to bird/bird interactions, and has Sammy pretty well intimidated.  To be fair to Sammy, though, Ditto isn't afraid to go after a Blue and Gold or a Mealy Amazon, either.  So she has reason to be a little put off by his aggression.

So today we start a new chapter in our lives.  The two-bird family.  Yesterday marked a very, very happy ending to a miserable chapter in our lives.  Today marks the beginning of a rocky, no doubt difficult new chapter.  Hopefully, one day soon, you'll go to a bird show, approach the Busy Beaks display, and see two happy, healthy TAGs playing "peacefully" on one perch. 

A girl can hope, right?


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This page was last updated on 08/17/2012

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