Mari and Arnie Choose
When I first met my friends, Mari and Arnie Fagin, their children had grown and left home. The big house was quiet, empty second floor bedrooms awaiting visiting family and friends. But the kitchen! That was another story.
I could hear the commotion from my guest bedroom and headed for the sunny breakfast room where I heard Mari ask, “Ready for breakfast? Would you like your breakfast, Mensa? Princey?
“Mari,” said Mensa. “Mari.”
Arnie had gone to work, but Mari still had to serve breakfast to her beloved pets, her remaining children.
Mensa peered through the delicate bars of his four foot high white cage, “Pretty,” he said when he saw me. Princey held out her claws to embrace my fingers in a welcome Hello from her identical cage.
Both set to eating breakfast while Mari told me their story, all the while interchanging comments with her two parrots.
Twenty years ago Mari began the joy of raising and teaching her African Grey parrot, Mensa, then a seven-week old chick covered with grey fluff. She taught him manners and his current vocabulary of over two hundred words as she might have taught a child, and he thrived. Mensa speaks in fluid sentences, is affectionate, and has elegant grey picot-edged feathers with red under his tail.
Princey, an umbrella cockatoo, is equally engaging, snow white and stunningly beautiful. Her vocabulary is smaller, but her charm is as great. At twenty-eight years old, she and Arnie, in particular, are uniquely bonded by deep affection.
Mari offers each parrot a shower. Mensa is excited, but Princey is exuberant. She jumps up and down, spreading her wings as if dancing. Her massive head umbrella is on display. Showers are great. Mari fills a squirt bottle and sprays Princey. She dances and twirls, eager for the feel of cool water.
“These birds have a long life ahead of them, longer than ours,” Mari tells me, “Mensa can live for another fifty years, Princey for forty years. We worry about their care when we’re gone.”
With none of their children in a position to foster these exotic family members, the Fagins began their research to find a home for Mensa and Princey. They came to realize that the sacrifice of parting with the pair would come sooner than they had anticipated. They couldn’t wait to grow old themselves and risk the future of their beloved birds should they be unable to care for them.
Too often exotic birds and other animals are bought as pets with no thought of their disposition should owners grow tired of the animal, become unable to care for the pet, or die. Some are left to fend for themselves in the wild, to die alone and uncared for, or to burden well-meaning friends. This wouldn’t happen to Mensa and Princey whose love the Fagins had shared for twenty years.
Their research led them to The Oasis Sanctuary in Benson, Arizona, a life-care facility for all species of captive parrots. The staff is dedicated to the welfare of each of the eight hundred resident parrots, and rescues parrots who would otherwise meet an unhappy end. The Fagins had visited the sanctuary and knew immediately that their birds would thrive in the expansive aviaries with others of their kind.
The Oasis is non-profit and depends on donations from those who care about parrots and subsidy payments from bird owners who are able to maintain them for the duration of the birds’ lives.
Less than one month after I met Mensa and Princey, Mari and Arnie drove their pets to Arizona and, knowing that they were doing the right thing, left them with the compassionate staff at the Oasis Sanctuary.
I wish I could say that the knowledge of ‘doing right’ outweighed Mari and Arnie’s hardship, but that isn’t the case. Just as you would mourn the passing of a beloved pet, my friends still go to the kitchen in the morning and enter their home at the end of the day expecting to be greeted by their cheerful companions. It doesn’t work that way.
Visit the Oasis Sanctuary here. http://the-oasis.org/who-we-are/ and at social media sites.