It’s school holidays here at the moment – summer holidays. Kids get bored after a few weeks at home. Looking for something to do the other day, Sausage started searching the book shelves in my office and discovered a book I was given when I was 11: “The Australian Girls’ Book of Crafts, Pets, Sports and Hobbies” by Prudence and Anthony Harvey. Having been published in 1969, it’s a little dated of course, but it still has some great ideas to keep a girl busy, from ‘archery’ through to ‘white mice’. My brother had the boy’s version and it’s interesting to note what was considered suitable for both boys and girls. Sadly, things like cooking, knitting and clothes care (ie washing and ironing) were considered girls only.
Sausage has long wanted a pet, so this book provided her with plenty of material to get her ideas flowing on what she wanted. I drew the line at white mice (I can’t stand the smell of mice) and her father wasn’t keen on rabbits (he’s a farmer, after all), so she finally decided on a budgie. Though Christmas has only just gone, I did agree that a pet for her would be good. We have a menagerie already, but none of them are ‘hers’, so something just for her would be good for teaching her care and responsibility.
I checked out the pet shop without her first – made sure there were no sweet little kittens or unbearably cute puppies. Fortunately the pet shop was still in its post-Christmas lull, so budgies and fish were about all he had. He had a cage full of budgies, every colour they can be, all chirping away. Then the pet shop man pointed at a cage behind me – “Or there’s this baby one, already finger trained.”
There, in a tiny cage, its head down in the corner, sat a tiny bundle of pure white misery. It perked up a little when he took it out, but as soon as he put it back, it went back to its corner.
My heart melted. No, I told myself, no sad cases. Get a healthy, happy budgie.
I took Sausage back later that day. I took her straight to the big cage, forcing myself not to look at the single bird in its solitary confinement. Sausage looked at all the budgies and her eyes opened wide. What colour? She stood there some time trying to decide. Then a mad chirruping came from behind us. The sad little baby bird was running up and down his cage, jumping and biting the bars. I could almost imagine him saying, “You came back for me! You came back for me! Take me hooooooome!”
Sausage took one look at him and was instantly besotted. Within five minutes he was ensconced in his new home (purple, of course) and in the car.
There’s been no sign of that sad little bird, now known as Ttokttok (Korean for smart), since we brought him home. He is so loved that he hardly gets time to sleep. Unfortunately the dog and cats are showing signs of loving him rather too much as well, so we’re going to have to find a safe place to hang his cage, but for now he’s on a small table in the kitchen and loving the constant attention from Sausage. We're not sure he is a he and not a she, (he’s too young to be able to tell), but Sausage is intent on teaching him to talk. Around here, it could be embarrassing what he picks up! Hopefully, nothing worse than, “Annie, get out! You stink!” or “Who left the door open?” But anything's possible.
I must think of some great literary phrases to teach him.