When I was 16, I started working as a receptionist / veterinary assistant in a small animal hospital operated out of an old house, in North Bay. I *loved* that job. During that time, I still wanted to be a veterinarian. I was living my teenage dream! The only jobs which rivalled my vet job were temporary positions I had for only one summer: one as a horseback trail guide (an under-the-table position where I was paid in cash due to being only 15 years old), and a student position through the university doing wildlife surveys to monitor the impact of acid rain on the ecosystem.
I worked at the animal hospital for four years while I attended high school. I’m sure, as a teenager, I wasn’t the most efficient employee, but I was attentive and I loved working with the animals. Most of my “assistance” was in being an extra pair of hands restraining the animal while the vet clipped toenails, drew blood, dressed a wound, expressed a gland, or did whatever else was necessary. The vet, too, was a wonderful, kind, patient man, who went out of his way to mentor the kids he employed.
It was during this time of working at the animal hospital that I had begun to work on my telepathic animal communication skills with intention. I had become aware of Penelope Smith and Sonya Fitpatrick through their books and TV appearances, and I finally had a word for what it is that I was doing and experiencing. I just needed to get better at doing it *on purpose*. This added an extra layer of depth on to my Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings at the animal hospital, when I would take all the dogs for a pee before closing for the night or opening for the day, feed all the cats and change their boxes, give medication if necessary, and start the coffee.
Twice a week I’d get to talk to 2 – 6 different dogs, one to one, without any distractions or anyone looking on who might make me feel silly for talking to them aloud as we circled the yard for a pee. I gradually figured out that I was most likely to get a response back from them if I genuinely reached out to them with love, admiration and respect. Something like, “You are so beautiful, hello, can we talk?”
The trouble with trying to initiate discussion with dogs at the vet is… they’re at the vet. Many of them are not in the mood to talk about much other than, “Where is my mom / dad? I feel sore and confused. When is breakfast / dinner? This place has an overwhelming smell.”
Occasionally I’d get a chatty terrier or lab type dog that was either too self-assurred or too docile to be *too* worried about why they were not at home, and they would give me pictures of their family members (sometimes I was able to confirm when the family picked up their pet on Saturdays) tell me about OTHER pets who were in the clinic at the time (animal gossip), or give me their opinion of ME, which was always hilarious and pretty much accurate. For example: “Your shoes smell like the pee of the dog in the kennel down the row. I should fix that (by peeing on your shoes myself.)”
When I saw this video come up on my facebook feed the other day, I was reminded of one particular patient, a red and green parrot, who was brought into the clinic by a lovely retired lady with thick wavy silver hair, wearing a very classy but weather-inappropriate skirt suit and pumps, and a gold cross hung in the hollow between her collarbones. She looked like she had just arrived after a Sunday service, although it was Wednesday night, and she was our last appointment at 9 pm.
Her bird was a red lored Amazon parrot, a species of parrot known for their ability to bond intensely with a favourite human, imitate human speech and phrases, and solve simple logical problems. This fellow was names Alfred, and he thought a lot of himself.
When the insulating blanket came off of his cage, and we got our first look at Alfred, he took an apprising view of the office waiting room and sized everyone up. He spied a feeble, elderly Doberman cross on the other side of the room, bobbed his head upwards and opened his beak slightly, mentally declaring himself superior to this particular fellow patient. He assessed a toy poodle perched on another lady’s lap, a woman who was still wrapped in her parka and looked like she was tired but relaxed. He locked his yellow eye on me from across the room, assessing me. “What are you going to try and do to me?” “Nothing!” I reflexively replied, giving him a mental picture of myself with my hands up, backing away, staying behind the desk as he would go into the room.
The vet came into the waiting room, spotted the parrot, and asked the other people waiting if they wouldn’t mind if he took Alfred in first. “It’s just a wing trim and it’ll be quick.” The Doberman was a long-term patient with multiple chronic conditions and the vet provided a *lot* of free care to this family, so they were happy to oblige, and the lady in the parka said, “Oh take your time! My husband is home with the kids and this is the longest I’ve sat down all day!”
“Kate would you come in here?”
Oh woops. I guess I was going to have to help the vet with this patient. I immediately sent a picture to Alfred of me being in the room and having gentle hands, and that the vet would tell me what to do.
“You’re just like a dog,” he responded. This was his honest observation and opinion of my subservience. I did another’s bidding? That’s what dogs did. Parrots are better.
Alfred was at the vet because he needed his toenails and wings clipped. He would under no circumstances allow his mistress to do this. The vet used a thick towel to herd Alfred into a corner of his cage, and then wrap him in the towel to remove him, squawking in protest. He gently repositioned him in the towel, wrapped him like a baby in swaddling, and handed him to me while he clipped Alfred’s toenails.
A single strident squawk was Alfred’s protest to each toenail clip. I felt that Alfred didn’t actually mind his toenails being clipped, he was squawking more on principle.
Then, The swaddle was re-adjusted to that a single wing could be accessed. The vet clipped the first flight feather and Alfred exploded! In a loud, masculine voice that was so realistic I looked up to the closed door, my brain thinking a man had come into the exam room and started screaming at us:
Gaaaaaaawwwwwd Damn! Gaaaaawwwwwd Dammit! F*ck!!!! DAMN YOU SONOFA – Alfred was off on a role of expletives, with variation and creativity!
Alfred’s human mom was absolutely mortified. “My husband… I’m so sorry!” She whisper-squeaked, covering her mouth in horror.
I was amazed. Alfred was ANGRY. It’s rare to see an animal in a full blown temper tantrum. There was a touch of anxiety in Alfred’s energy, but most of it was sheer outrage. He was cursing us all to hell. He didn’t know what the words *meant* exactly, but he knew this was the perfect moment to use them!
The vet completed the process as quickly as possible, and returned Alfred to his cage, where he glowered indignantly at both of us. His cage cover was replaced, and we all returned to the waiting room – me to bill Alfred’s mom, and the vet to collect his next patient.
The patients in the waiting room were all round-eyed, and the doberman’s mom had her mouth hanging open. In a quavering voice, the poodle’s mom asked, “Did that bird bite you, Doctor?”
It hit us like a bolt of lightning. From the waiting room, everyone thought it had been the VET who was screaming and cursing!
Parrots can get you into a lot of trouble! (But they make wonderful stories!)
Just a reminder folks: I have a special PET READING DISCOUNT CODE! Use “ILoveMyPet” for $25 off your next Pet Session with me!
And now, Pebble the Cursing Cockatoo, a bird with a sordid past and a biker’s vocabulary. This will give you an idea of what Alfred was doing: