The friends we’ve made come in all colors, shapes and forms, also in all varieties. On more than one occasion, we’ve seen turtles making their way across the road, right in front of us. We generally say “Hi” to them but they’re not much fun to pet. They are loyal, though, as they’re always right where we left them the next day only they’re flat. Same is true of squirrels.
We found mixing it up, like going a different direction, brought about a whole new slew of cordial critters. One route we chose was like Garage Sale Alley. About every third house presented their wares on their driveways…which always makes me wonder why they are called, “garage” sales. Anyway, at one of the houses we were introduced to Maggie the Golden Retriever. Her coat is a lustrous rust and she appears to have a smile on her face. Maggie was instrumental in helping to make sales by pointing out the best buys with her nose. Tail a waggin’ she greeted us and wouldn’t have it but what we made time to give her plenty of lovin.’ (Of course, we just hated that!) Her owner said that Maggie is notorious for barking at passer-bys but certainly not to show what a fierce watch dog she is. (The thought of that concept is just plain silly.) This is her way of begging for you to come to the fence and pet her. We found this to be the case whenever she was outside. So we took advantage of her plea every time we needed some down home doggie affection. Maggie always has an abundance on hand.
Mom told us that because of the dog’s sweet, endearing nature that she’s considered getting some training for both of them so she and Maggie are welcome to visit hospitals. At the ripe old age of four, Maggie would be a terrific good cheer ambassador. She’s old enough to have outgrown her puppy brain and responds well to commands. One thing she never had to be taught, though, was to present you with her paw. She knows this will make you go “Awwww” and rub behind her ears. I don’t know how she knows that but it works every time.
After all the canine encounters and a few reptilian run ins we met yet one more memorable acquaintance. We saw a young woman walking toward us and I commented to my husband about the striking blue sweater she was wearing. As we got closer it was evident that there was something on her shoulder. It, too, was blue, almost the same hue as the sweater. This lady and her parakeet were out for a walk because it was such a nice sunny day. The owner said her quilled companion loved going out and because its wings were clipped there was no fear of it flying away.
We learned the bird’s name was Merlin (like the magician) and he’d been her buddy for the past 3 years. She had acquired him when he was about 6 months old.
I asked if he talked and she was quick to entertain us with his vocabulary. ”Oh, yes. He says, ‘Pretty baby bird,’ or Pretty bird’ for short.” Her dog’s name is Wilbur and Merlin takes a stab at that. The parakeet will call out to Timothy, her fiancée. And recently when Timothy had a cold and kept clearing his throat, well so did Merlin. Merlin can also imitate the sound of water being poured, making a “glug, glug,” noise. He’s really quite versatile!
[Having had a parakeet myself, when I was growing up, I could certainly appreciate a talking bird. Toy-Toy was taught to say, “You’re so cute and Gimme a kiss.” Only problem was he would screw the phrases up and they’d come out, You’re so kiss and Gimme a cute.” I figured he was a bit dyslexic. My older brothers used to let him perch on their fingers, place Toy-Toy smack dab in front of their faces and open wide. Undaunted, the bird would stick his entire head into their mouths and peck on their amalgam fillings…you know, the silver ones. While this was more entertaining than going to the dentist it probably was not very hygienic. Gross!]
But I digress. Back to Merlin:
Our curiosity about the friendly fowl kept us asking questions. The owner went on to explain that Merlin had been “hand raised” by a man who nurtured parakeets as sort of a hobby. The man bottle fed Merlin and his fellow feathered friends. All this human interaction at an early age helped to make the bird quite tame. (This kind of upbringing is not true of the birdies you buy at the pet store.)
My “hands-on-husband” naturally extended his finger to the bird. The closer he got the farther up on the woman’s shoulder Merlin scampered. She said he’d warm up and allow the obvious unwanted attention but that never happened. He did flutter to the ground to escape Ken but was quick to get on Mom’s finger and back to her shoulder, his safe haven. I guess this still counts as “making a friend” because the woman seemed to like us even if her bird found us a bother. In this case we weren’t considered to be birds of a feather!
For the time being this is the extent of the friends we’ve made on our walks. We hope to encounter more in the coming days.
After all, you can never have too many friends!
Read Cindy’s column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.