Last month, we went on our annual vacation at the Lair of the Bear family camp. We had a wonderful time, as always, but were shocked and deeply sad to return home to find our pet birds Simon & Garfunkel dying of starvation.
We hired Home Alone Pet and Plant Care (San Jose, CA) to walk our 1-year-old dog and care for our 2 cockatiel birds while we were camping in the mountains. In addition to hiring Home Alone, we also asked a neighbor to care for our other pets and the house, but not the birds. The day we left, Home Alone’s representative called our neighbor, told him she fell and was hurt trying to walk the dog and left our neighbor in charge of everything. She left a single voice mail message on our cell phone (which we told her did not work at camp) but made no other attempt to contact us. Simon died the morning after our return. Garfunkel died in the vet’s care a few days later.
The vet did a formal necropsy and said both birds died of starvation and dehydration. We left written instructions which included the camp office number plus a contact list, which the Home Alone representative recorded on her company’s customer intake form when she visited our home. The representative even asked to take our dog for a walk the day before we left. She said the first walk went well and she would take care of everything. Home Alone Pet and Plant Care and our neighbor share responsibility for the death of our birds. However, since Home Alone Pet and Plant Care is a professional animal care service with 17 years of experience, we expected more.
We named our boy birds Simon & Garfunkel because they were great duet singers and inventors of new songs. We only adopted them a year ago from Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue and we loved them very much, grumpy little featherheads that they were. Simon had cinnamon-gray feathers with a yellow crest and pink feet. Garfunkel had a gray crest and gray feet. Both had the yellow heads and orange cheeks typical of male cockatiels. Mickaboo had rescued them from the Martinez animal shelter where they had been abandoned. They hated to be apart. Garfunkel was sometimes very crabby about coming out of the cage or “stepping up” onto a hand – he would often try to bite and sometimes succeeded. However, if Simon went out first, Garfunkel was happy to follow. Garfunkel also liked to dominate and would sometimes fly up to sit on John’s head to prove who was the top bird. Both of them had damaged wings when we got them so they did not fly well. Simon & Garfunkel were very curious and sometimes got into trouble for nibbling the curtains or furniture.
We told Mickaboo about the sad death of our birds and we shared the necropsy report with them. We were able to adopt a new pair of Mickaboo cockatiels today. Paul and John and I met Guapo and Sparky, two gray male cockatiels, at their foster home. They are the same size and look almost identical except that Guapo has two yellow spots on the back of his neck. Sparky is more outgoing. They both have gray feet and yellow-gray crests. We just brought them to our home to be our new bird companions.
Simon and Garfunkel’s last pictures
Guapo and Sparky today
Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher