Our Goffin’s Cockatoo, Sugar, is everything you’d expect in a pack’s alpha male. He is forceful, bossy, and expects everyone to obey him. A visiting dog has challenged our Alpha and totally took him down.
Sugar loves to tease the dogs. He also enjoys feeding them with the food he steals from the humans, so the dogs give him lots of leeways. Unfortunately, Sugar is also a little cocky and likes to play with the dogs. If you think that prey playing with predators is a recipe for disaster, you’re right.
On Memorial Day, I was caring for my daughter’s dog, Allie. You’d think that Sugar would understand that the dog is (a) bigger than him; and (b) a predator. And yet, I caught him on the floor, chasing Allie and intimidating her. He chased her out of the room several times and strutted around so that we all knew that he was the boss. He has a big beak, and he knows how to use it! I heard things getting a bit rowdy while I was in the next room, and I called Allie away to leave Sugar alone. I knew it was hopeless to try and control the wild bird, but I know Allie is a good dog and would listen to me. She obediently retreated to my bed. Catastrophe averted, I thought.
When I found the blood on the floor a few minutes later, I knew I was wrong. Who was hurt? Wondering if Sugar bit one of the dogs, or even the cat, I checked them all over. No blood. I turned to Sugar, who was sulking on the curtain rod, well out of my reach. I knew the blood was his. I stood on a chair and got close enough to see blood on his foot. Now if a dog or cat were to get a scratch or even a mild bite, they would soldier on and get over it. Not birds. If the saliva of a dog or cat enters a bird’s bloodstream, like when they’re bitten, the bacteria in the saliva will kill them. It’s critical to begin a course of antibiotics within 24 hours. The clock ticked.
Birds require a specialist, an avian or exotic pet veterinarian, but they’re hard to find and never seem to work holidays or weekends, so I was grateful to find a general clinic that was open and willing to see Sugar at least preliminarily. I caught Sugar and away we went to a vet 45 minutes away. The vet found several scratches and punctures in Sugars chest and wings. He was quite bruised and obviously sore. We got the life-saving antibiotics and appointments for re-checks. From the wounds, it looks like Sugar flew over Allie and Allie just jumped up and caught him. About that time, I hollered at her, and Allie obediently dropped him and responded to me. She could have easily mauled and killed him. We were lucky.
Sugar has been cowed all week, flying very little and refusing to hang out with me. I began worrying that he wasn’t eating at all and that I’d find him dead. After the second antibiotic shot, he began to bounce back. Thank goodness! He’s eating again and seems to have forgiven me for catching him, and the car rides – at least until I have to take him for his re-check tomorrow. He’s out of the woods, though, I think.
That bird has a LOT of attitude, and yet, he is affectionate and sweet. He’s a complex companion, and I love him dearly. I hope he has learned something and will stop teasing Allie when she comes to visit. Either way, he has recovered to strut and dominate the pack another day!