Today I have re-learned a lesson that I’ve learned before and should have already known. Namely: take a pet’s history with a grain of salt. I had been told by Archie’s previous owner that he was afraid to come out of his cage, and that, except for the move to Austin from his previous city, he had not been out of his cage for almost 9 years. I had also seen with my own eyes how Archie had panicked when we opened the door to his cage when it was time to move him to my house, and how it took us over an hour to figure out how to get him into the carrier without traumatizing him further. It broke my heart to watch him thrash around and to hear his panicked wheezing.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when this was his reaction when we set out to do our first recorded training session (sorry it’s sideways for most of the recording; I guess Chuck didn’t realize that the phone doesn’t automatically correct its direction):
My interest in being able to document the training sessions teaching him to come out of his cage is far outstripped by my excitement to discover that he isn’t really very fearful at all. After we stopped recording this, I decided to try sliding his cage tray out of the cage while he was sitting there. I moved it slowly and watched his reaction, and he didn’t seem the slightest bit perturbed. I eventually got it all the way out, changed the papers, and started to put it back when he jumped down onto the tray and started laughing hysterically. At that point, I had to get him to move so I could put the tray back.
I should have asked Chuck to record it, but I offered my hand, and within five approximations he had stepped completely onto it and was gently exploring my fingers and begging for more pistachios. I then pushed the tray back in, set my hand inside his cage, and he calmly stepped down onto the tray. No big whoop.
THEN, I left his cage door open while I got some foraging toys to refill his cage with. When I came back in the room, he flew towards me, landing at my feet. I offered my hand, and he stepped up and then climbed up to my shoulder, singing happily to himself and occasionally laughing. I sat on the sofa, and he moved down to my chest.
For a few minutes, he explored the sofa and chatted away to himself, but then after a while he came back to my chest, pressed his body as close to my face as possible, then fluffed up his feathers and hunkered down for a nap.
So what I said earlier about, “We have our work cut out for us?” Yeah. Ignore that. Because clearly, this little guy has made himself at home.