Franklin impresses again

I have been going to the vet a lot lately, dealing with the Kennel Cough coursing its way through my pack. On this particular day I was feeling bad about leaving Franklin home alone again so I decided to bring him along. He loves car rides, getting all fluffy as the wind blows him from the open windows (I transport him in his bedtime cage).



Anyway, he was very sweetly sitting on his opened cage as the vet was listening to Bella‘s heart. He was taking extra long because he thought he heard a murmur but then decided he hadn’t. As he was bending over her, listening through his stethoscope Franklin was watching intently, head cocked. Then I hear the unmistakable sound of him mimicking a heartbeat! The first time I heard that sound was after I was cuddling him close to my chest a month or so ago. He was lying his head on me as I scratched his neck. As I pulled him away and brought him up to my face to talk to him he looked me right in the eye and made an unmistakable heartbeat sound! I figured he had heard my heart as I scratched him. So, at the vet when he made the sound I was shocked…could he really have understood what was going on?? He has never made that sound randomly, only when mimicking me or when he hears my heart. Very very weird. He may be WAY smarter than I realize. Good ‘ole Frank Frank.

July 11, 2009 • Tags: , , , • Posted in: behavior, bird, Franklin • No Comments

How to make a bird play stand

Here is a little break from puppy news…

I recently built a fabulous play tree for my Quaker parrot Franklin and thought some of you might like to know how I did it. So here goes a brief description with pictures of course!

play tree playtreeclose


June 7, 2009 • Tags: , , • Posted in: bird • 10 Comments

For the love of Franklin

Franklin’s favorite foods:

    Oatmeal pancakes with maple syrup
    ToastWaffles (best with maple syrup)
    CarrotsCornRed pepper seeds (!)
    the bean part of green beans (only)
    Orange juice
    Soy milk
    Peas (occasionally)




Things Franklin says:

    Frank frank
    What IS it?
    Shut up
    GOOD bird!
    Kiss kiss
    Thank you.
    (zipper sound)
    (a cough)
    (A laugh)
    Up up
    Come here
May 29, 2009 • Tags:  • Posted in: bird, birds, observations • No Comments

Franklin continues to amaze me

Franklin the parrot has been with us for a month now. We’ve worked out our little routines. I have found that like dogs, birds seem to thrive on routines. I do too, so it makes sense to me.

Franklin groomingHe is starting to really get into his life here. He is willing to try any food I offer and has some favorites: for breakfast he LOVES oatmeal, toast, pancakes (but only with pure maple syrup) and soy milk (which he calls “water”.) For lunch and dinner he is eating peas, corn, carrots, onions (!), apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, noodles and toast. I eat a lot of toast. He is trying to eat greens but is taking to them slowly. He ate more tonight though than he has yet so there is hope.

He has figured out how to communicate when he wants more of something to eat by making a little “pip” of a sound. When he’s had enough he’ll turn his head a way or take the food and (more…)

Creating a good dog walking experience

Ahh, nothing better than walking a dog on a lovely spring day. How about we all go together? What? Can’t? The dog “doesn’t like other dogs? People either? The dog’s leashes will get all tangled up and cause a minor disaster? eh, too much work, you’re right, let’s just skip it and let them out back.

So SAD! There is a sense of peacefulness that comes from walking with a group of dogs that can’t be matched. Dogs are pack animals, meaning they like to be with other dogs. Some of them just don’t know that or have forgotten. We are sort of pack animals too, we like to be together. So getting your dog to have nice leash manners is a skill that helps you both fulfill this urge to be together with your own kind in a productive, peaceful way.

Ok, so what are “nice” leash manners? Nice means: no pulling, no tripping me up, no tripping anyone else up, no growling or snapping at other beings, no incessant stopping to sniff every little thing, no lunging after the neighbor’s cat or the neighborhood rabbit or squirrel or deer or elephant (I don’t know where you live), no barking at anything, and generally enjoying being together.

Placement has a lot to do with fostering “nice” manners. A dog in front is a dog in charge and if that dog has anything other than a laid back, pacifist sort of personality they shouldn’t be in charge. Most dogs, nearly every single dog I’ve ever seen are much happier with you in charge of the walk. Really, much HAPPIER. Don’t confuse excitement – that frantic panting jumping barking energy for happiness. A happy dog is a calm dog that looks content. A hyper dog isn’t happy, he’s crazy. We don’t want crazy people leading us nor do we want crazy dogs leading us.

6wk puppy graduation

6-week Puppy Class graduation walk

So, keep your dog at your side. Draw an invisible line from your knees out to either side of you and that is the line the dog should stay behind at all times. Walking like this gives a dog a job, a sense of purpose. Try it yourself…when you’re out walking with a friend try to keep yourself behind their invisible line. It takes mindfulness of what you are doing and that is what we are after with out dogs. It is a mental. challenge.

Now, doing this can be difficult. A dog who is used to leading isn’t going to give up that position instantly. Mostly because they have been conditioned to walk there – it is what they know. You have to show them a new way. If you’re consistent, soon that will be what they know. To keep them at your side you have to shorten the length of leash between you and your dog. For that reason, I always suggest using a simple nylon, one ply, 1/2 inch leash no longer than 4 feet. And I suggest tying a knot in the leash where your hand should fall. That way you always know if you’re holding the leash in the right spot. People who train with me always get their leashes tied. It’s just my thing.


Parrots are different than dogs

Franklin gets puffy

Franklin gets puffy

Our Quaker parrot Franklin has been with us for a week now. He is a love but the honeymoon has definitely worn off. He has started challenging me more, standing up for himself and not doing everything I ask. During those first few days he was like the perfect bird, very compliant and easy going. But for the last few days he’s been more stubborn. Tonight for example, he was pulling my hair. I made it clear that I didn’t like it and usually he would stop. But today he hissed at me and did it again! So I went to shake him off my shoulder and he flew off before I could and landed on my arm. I was impressed that he anticipated my reaction. Since he changed his behavior I let him stay there. But I fear that I am either totally misreading his cues or that I am acting like a push over.