Thursday, May 12, 2005

Rescuing Stanley

I grew up with birds. My father and I were both allergic to dogs and cats so we got birds instead. Yes, I do have dogs now, but that was because I was still in the infancy of my relationship and the assimilation of real estate had not yet occurred. A dog is one of the many sacrifices one makes early on to later establish being the dominant spouse. The 2nd dog was just a moment of weakness.

When our pups pass, we’ve realized that it would not be fair to purchase new dogs since we will be most likely out & about involved in soccer, clubs, etc. Not wanting to have a stage without pets, I slipped the idea of birds to Larry much the same way one would their spouse a valium in their wine. (Hey, I didn’t say I did it, just that it’s similar.)

So leaving out many of the details, I asked and he agreed that we could eventually get birds. A week later, I brought home a parakeet that I brought on Craigslist. She was blue and we named her Dory, in honor of the little blue fish in our son’s favorite movie. After seeing a picture of the bird, my mother informed us that Dory was indeed a boy. Rather than deal with gender identification issues, we dropped the name Dory immediately.

While we struggled through replacement names, I decided to look into getting the former-Dory, a friend. The cage was big enough and birds are naturally social creatures. I decided the sensible thing was to rescue a bird from an animal shelter.

One Thursday evening, I drove to the Arlington Animal Welfare League. After finding Honey, who I thought would be a good match to not-yet-named-bird-at-home, I inquired about the adoption process. Keep in mind that many people here are volunteers and on the volunteer ladder, these folks are about one notch below volunteer librarians. Paperwork then needed to be filled out and it was so heavily focus on dogs & cats that I left much of it blank.

The blank responses puzzled Tom, my young volunteer. He had to ask other volunteers (imagine the collective intelligence at work) if I needed to bring in my other animals to meet this bird. He was unsure whether a home visit was required or not. (FYI-it doesn’t however you need to bring in a picture of the cage.) And most importantly, have the other family members had a chance to meet Honey?

I laughed out loud but Tom didn’t smile back. I said, “You want Larry to come meet Honey? Tom, it’s a bird.” Tom consulted his paperwork and indicated that the rules said all family members must meet the animals. I cursed myself at being so accurate on these forms.

My explanation went like this; “Tom, there are some people who view birds as pets and others who view them as accessories. A gay man’s programming is to view EVERYTHING as his accessory. Larry is such a man. I promise he will not intentionally kill the bird, but you need to understand he’s earning spousal points by indulging me.”

“I can do this over the phone if that’s easier,” he says. So in the middle of National Airport, my partner moved us one step closer to adopting Honey.

At this point, Tom informs me that I need to interview with a counselor. “Didn’t I just do that with you?” I ask. Tom says, “I’m a dog & cat counselor. You need to meet with a critter counselor and none of them are here.” Wow, who new counseling had such specialties.

The next morning, I’m back again meeting with John or Joe or whoever. He’s about 150 years old and knows birds. I regale him with my knowledge and experience, using buzz words like Millet Seeds, Cuttle Bones and Blood Feathers, that only a bird owner would know. I mention having had four birds that all lived past 10 years of age. The Geezer nods and proceeds to read about bird care from a 25-page manual.

My patience snaps when he covers giving the bird fresh water each day. I say, “(Name), if I had four birds live as long as they did, don’t you think I changed the water daily?” Critter-man looked at me as though he hadn’t really understood my point.

As I left, I thanked him and said I’d be back at the end of the day to pick up Honey. He inquired about the cage and I replied, “Little Tom said I could borrow a critter-carrier to get the bird home.” I was then informed that the birds could not be put into the same cage for at least two weeks due to territorial issues. Of course, Larry & I had the same issue when we had to share our first closet.

A trip to Petco and 24 hours later, I’m back for my third and final visit. Honey gets put into the cage and Rhonda (or whatever), another volunteer says I need to sign my contract. It reads like this: Do I promise to take the animal to a vet in the first two weeks? Um, Rhonda, birds don’t go for annual check-ups? “Really?” she asks? “Yep, the critter dude told me,” I lied. Do I promise to give up any babies should the animal become pregnant? Huh? Etc, etc.

Here I was, able to bring a child in to the world with two lesbians and it required less effort than adopting this freaking bird.

It’s hard to do the right thing. Three days of hell buying a bird that cost $7 more than Petco plus a major amount of spousal points.

So Dory & Honey have now become Stanley & Floyd. They argue and bicker like old ladies. They snuggle and chatter like best friends. A lot like their canine siblings and their crazy dads.

And as my friend Jenni likes to point out so eloquently, “You guys are racists against women!! There isn't a vagina in sight over there!”


Blogger Kim Ash said...

Congrats on the arrival of your birds! I've heard similar scary stories of adopting from places like this, with all their bureaucracy. It's one thing to make sure the animals won't be used for some religious sacrifice, but some of the questions are off the wall. One former colleague wanted to adopt a cat from there, but after telling them she worked all day, they raised concerns that kitty would be left all alone! Hello - cats sleep 16-20 hours a day!

No good deed goes unpunished...

12:13 PM  
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