Whyyy Are You Here?

Alright, while we are waiting for Lance to get his butt into gear and write a post, I’ll dominate the board with the pretty pink and write another about college. 

I don’t know why some of the people that are at Duquesne are here.  Honestly.  Me, personally, I am here to get an education.  I am here to get into vet school.  I am here so that someday, me and Lance can live the very alternative yet extravagant lifestyle that we have dreamt up in our heads over hours upon hours of phone conversation.  I am here to make connections, network, and make some friends.  But above all, I am here to ultimately become an exotic and avian veterinarian. 

There are many people here who do not seem to have the same sense of direction I house.  Many people who, on the night before classes were scheduled to begin, were out in the halls, running around and screaming at the top of their lungs.  There are many people here who already have gotten drunk out of their brains, partied too hard, and have thrown up all over the dorms.  There are many people here who are here for all the wrong reasons. 

In the eight days I have been here, I have already networked with a professor who is a practicing veterinarian, got a job as a lab assistant on campus, got a jump on my already daunting pile of homework, and have already been above the game.  I have met a few people like me, who are ready for the challenge and are ready for their future.  However, I’ve also met a lot of people who havent cracked a book yet.  Guess what.  Theyre already behind, trying to play catch up. 

Lance has actually had to tell me to promise to take two nights to have fun instead of holing up in my room studying.  And I have had fun.  Ive eaten lunch and dinner with people, we’ve planned to have chinese food night, I’ve gone to the gym, and I’ve helped decorate peoples rooms.  However, I also know how to work.  College is not all about the social aspects. 

I think it bothers me to meet the people who are blowing their tuition away.  I know it shouldnt bother me, as thats less competition for me in the long run, but it does bother me.  I worked SO hard to get here.  I have to pay for it myself.  It bothers me that everyone using it as a party is wasting the many, many resources that are offered to them here. 

I can’t wait until Lance is down here.  If he decides to come down here.  I crave having someone who is like me, someone who knows me, and someone who will have my back when everyone else is against me.  Its very lonely without him. 

Well, maybe the partiers will laugh at me now, as I study my butt off and stress over grades, but I will laugh at them while I’m watching them work their butt off and stress over bills 🙂

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Moving in to Duquesne!

I have finally taken my first big step on this journey to become a veterinarian.  On Tuesday, I moved into Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit!  Duquesne is a good choice for me because besides being nationally ranked in the top tier of the best universities to attend out of the whole nation, it is stratigically located in the heart of Pittsburgh, where I have easy access to internships and volunteer opportunities at the Aviary and the Pittsburgh Zoo, as well as the Pittsburgh Animal Rescue League and several animal hospitals.  I can hop a bus for virtually anything, walk to many places, and I love love love love the campus.  Class sizes are reported to be small and personal, and there are personal everywhere that are willing to help you with just about anything.  For example, as a pre medical/ biology track right now for undergraduate, I am required to meet twice a semester with a group provided just for pre med students to ensure I’m on the correct track to getting into vet school.  They also give you mock tests for the big graduate tests, help you locate volunteer and internship opportunities, and help you write a kick ass essay and build a resume to present to future schools.   If I’m going to get into vet school, Duquesne is whats going to get me there.

However, move in was a big change.  I’ve never really been away from home for really any significant amount of time.  And I’ve certainly never lived on my own amongst a ton of strangers.  I can’t even keep people’s faces straight here.  I love having strong relationships with people.  I like feeling comfortable with people.  I’m not one of those people that gets a spark outta meeting and small talking with many different people all the time.  I like bonds and closeness and comfort.  And here there are NONE of that.  So, its been a trying few days.  In all honestly, I can’t wait until Lance comes down here next year.  I feel like I’ll enjoy college a lot more when I have SOMEONE who knows the real me.  Knows how I tick.  Just someone when I see them at a lunch table, I don’t get the knot in my stumach as I walk over to them, as I worry they might send me away.  I dont have to live in the same room as them.  Not even the same building.  Just the same campus and I would be ok. 

And I really miss my birds.  It’s far too quiet in this dorm room without them.  My little betta fish needs to learn how to say hello.

So, its been emotional.  But orientation has kept us so busy its hard to even get time to rest.  I go to be absolutely exhausted at night and wake up just about as tired.  Duquesne loves to feed you, so we’re constantly going to lunch or dinner or something, when I’m used to like, one meal a day and grazing the rest of the day. 

Its a new experience.  A very uncomfortable new experience.  I can’t wait to just become settled and just enjoy college.  Slowly but surely its getting there.

Battle of the Sexes

I work at a pet store.  A very animal conscious, happy, healthy family run pet store.  I love just about everything about my job.  I don’t mind taking care of animals, I don’t mind the work, I don’t mind educating people.  However, I do mind irritating, know it all customers.  Especially when it comes to birds.

Now, I am by no means a bird expert.  However, neither is the woman standing across the counter from me, complaining that an all seed diet is completely adequate for an African Grey.  Of the old man still insisting that lovebirds will die without a partners. 

The thing that set me off on this irritated rampage was a customer who came in the other day.  We are instructed to go and greet the customer when they come in, and ask them if they need anything.  So, being a good employee, I went over and said hello, and asked her if she needed anything.  She rudely brushed me off saying stoutly ‘no I’m just looking’.

Already, I don’t like her.  I totally get if you don’t need any help in our little store, but don’t get all rude on me about it. 

She later comes over and asks if the conure we have in a cage near the register is a jenday or a sun.  I replied a sun.  She then asks me if it is a male or a female.  I replied that it hadn’t been DNA tested and there is no way to be 100% sure of the sex unless it is DNA tested or lays an egg.  At this, the woman swells and lights up.

“Actually,” she said, ” I can tell the sex of a conure by looking at how far apart the pelvic bones are.” 

At this point, I get ready to start tuning her out and want to usher her out the door.  One thing I cannot STAND about work is stupid people who think they know more than me. 

First off, pelvic bone sexing, while it can be useful, is not 100% surefire way to tell the sex of a bird.  And honestly, if I’m going to tell someone the sex of an animal, I want to be 100% sure.  Or I’m going to say something like ‘well, we call it a girl because its smaller, but honestly we don’t know.’

Second off, this conure is still on one hand feeding a day.  It’s not going to be weaned until early September.  Most birds that are correctly sexed pelvicly are older or at least fully mature birds.  Young birds are still growing, and a lot of young female birds’ pelvic bones will remain close together until she reaches a sexual maturity, which in a sun conure is usually somewhere around two years old.  Much quicker to get it DNAed. 

Third off, unless you are extremely experienced in bird handling and bird sexing, you will probably sex your bird wrong using the pelvic method.  Owning a sun conure once in your life before does not constitute being experienced in bird sexing.

And the fact that this woman talked herself up like this just shows her total lack of knowledge.  I thought about preaching to her and educating her a bit, but it would have been waste of my time and energy.  Some people see me as underneath them and refuse to take advice from someone so young and so ‘inexperienced’.

I had another similar ‘sexing battle’ with another customer.  A very rude, bossy, and cheap woman came in around February and bought a parakeet and a cockatiel from us for her neighbor.  I adored the little cockatiel she bought.  He was a cinnamon white face pearl, and actually, he is a full-blooded brother to Lance’s bird, Jules.  I handfed the little tiel, and I was totally crushed when a mean, nasty woman bought him.  I mean, she takes care of her animals, but still. Yeesh.

So, the neighbor kid bring the bird back to get his wings and nails clipped.  I, of course, gush over the little tiel, asking about him, what his name is, and how he’s doing.  I also noticed that he was at the end of a good molt and that he had lost almost all the pearling on his body.  I informed them that they were the proud owners of a boy”

“Oh, our neighbor said that it was a girl!” They exclaimed.   I explained to them that pearl cockatiels lose their pearling if they are males usually within the first molt.

The neighbor comes in to get her bird clipped as well.  I was ducked behind the counter getting someone a mouse when I hear them inform her that their bird is indeed a male.

” Who told you that?!  I told you it was a girl!”

” The little dark-haired girl who works here.  She said because it lost its spot-“

“Well, don’t listen to her.  She doesn’t know anything.”

Pardon me. 

Once again, I would like to tell this woman that just because she owns a parrot doesn’t make her an expert.  I highly doubt she has ever looked up any basic information on her birds if she doesn’t even know male pearls loose the spots. 

Doubt me?  Read for yourself

http://www.quakerparrots.com/health/pelvic-sexing-in-parrots/

http://www.parrotpro.com/sexing.php

http://www.bluequaker.com/Art-015.htm

The Joy of Sharing

Camp was great, especially with our feathered friends with us. One of my favorite things about camping or going out with our birds is being able share our birds and our knowledge about them. Hannah’s little brothers friends, Gary and Ryan, both enjoyed meeting  Jules, and even their mother liked to learn more about him and Bella. He climbed on them and allowed them to pet him.

Other times when we took the dynamic duo out shopping, people, ranging from pet store attendants to kids on the street, love to hold, play with, or even just look at these wonderful birds. I love watching my bird interacting peacefully and the questioning looks on the human faces. Sometimes even the pet store attendants do not know something, especially about Bella, and Hannah and I enjoy explaining it to them.

I find through these experiences that sharing birds and showing people what nice animals they are is one of the greatest joys a bird owner can enjoy. And though it is fun, it allows us a way to show people that birds are clean, nice, and well-mannered animals.   Also through proper education we try to decrease the amount of unwanted birds in this world. If every bird owner did this I believe that there would be less discrimination of birds.

Discrimination Against Animals!

Everything at camp wasnt quite that great.  We had an issue that really got me fired up.  Saturday morning, we decided to go to the camp lodge for breakfast instead of cooking our own.  So we loaded up and headed to the lodge.  However, when we arrived there, we were quickly greeted by a nasty ‘you’re going to have to take your bird outside.  This is a restaurant.”

Jules, stealing some of Lance's toast

   

I spent three weeks in Germany a few years ago and one of the things that really resonated with me was how accepted animals were in society.  Dogs were allowed in stores, on trains and buses and in restaurants.  Everywhere you went, people took their animals with them.  There were no ‘no pets’ signs on doors, nor were there any mean people telling you to ‘take your bird outside’.      

It was a camp lodge.  Not a five-star restaurant.  Not a fancy steak house.  A ruddy old camp lodge that served greasy meals on paper plates with plastic silverware.  Real classy.    

 My dad tried to reason with me.  ” its health codes.  restaurants aren’t allowed to have animals in them for health reasons.”  Well, that fired me up even more.  Because honestly, my birds are cleaner than most people.  My birds wear diapers, so they make absolutely no more mess than a human infant.  In fact, my birds are quieter than most people’s kids, cleaner than most people’s kids, and more well-behaved than more people s kids.  And I don’t see one restaurant that has a ‘no kids’ sign on the door.  I take responsibility for all my animals and their behavior, which is more than most parents can say.  Still, I am the one shunned to the patio.      

 Not to mention, this is my life style being cramped by the opinions of everyone else.  And that’s not fair.  How many years of my young life did I have to sit in the same restaurant as smokers, even though I’ve never picked up a cigarette in my life?  And that was absolutely hazardous to my health and it was just recently banned!  How many times have I had to sit next to a noisy, screaming, sticky two-year old when I have an adverse nature towards children?  And I have never once complained or said ‘get your kid outside’.  And now I am being discriminated against for having a feathered kid.    

And if anyone would have mentioned the fact that people fear birds, I probably would have decked them.  I never force people to embrace the type of animal I hold dear.  I never force them to pet my birds, or touch my birds, or even take notice of my birds.  However, I am a member of society as well, as so are my birds.  So to deny me the pleasures of my life for someone else’s fear is wrong.  For example, I have a horrible, terrible, irrational fear of latex balloons.  I hate when they pop, I hate the squeaky noise they make, I hate everything about them.  However, I cannot expect to walk into a balloon-less world because I’m terrified of them.  And I certainly don’t see any signs on the restaurant door saying ‘no balloons’ because they bother me.    

 Needless to say, I did not purchase a breakfast and instead sat at the cigarette covered patio table and ate Lance’s toast, fuming about the discrimination I had just faced.      

 $%@& you, food industry owners and pet haters.

Camping with the Fids!

Lance and I just got back from a weekend camping trip!  However, when we go camping, we take some of our birds with us!          

all packed up and ready to go!

   

Bella and Jules both have travel carriers that we can put them in if we want to go somewhere or if its time for them to go to bed.  It’s also unsafe to ride with your bird out of the carrier on the car ride, so both birds are strapped into the car with a seat belt in the backseat in case of a crash.  Think of your bird as a toddler.            

Birds like a routine, so constructing one is very important to their well-being.  For example, Lance and I wake up and take the birds out.  We offer them their pellets and seeds twice a day, and water four times a day when out of the cage.  While they are in their carriers, they each have a dish of pellets and dish of water.  They usually stay out for the majority of the day, spending the hottest part either bathing, or inside the air-conditioned trailer.  When evening comes and the bugs come out, the birds go to bed early.  Mosquitos can give your bird a disease.            

Bella and Jules enjoying breakfast

   

Camp for us is mostly just relaxing.  We don’t really do anything fun to record, but sit around and talk and play with our fids. My brother and sister and dad ride dirt bikes, and we went on a day trip to Cabellos, but for the most part we just sat around.            

Traveling with your birds is also a good way to educate people about parrot ownership and about what great pets birds can be.  You’re always sure to draw a crowd when you have a bird.          

Bella spending some quality time with her daddy

Welcome to Our Blog!

 

As usual, there has to be a post made to break the ice, start things off, and say welcome to our new blog!  So I guess I’ll be the one to write it. 

Welcome to our blog!

My name is Hannah and along with my boyfriend, Lance, we are going to blog our way through college on our quest to become ‘animal experts’ each in our own field.  I am going to school to become a veterinarian and Lance is going to school for conservation biology.  Two totally separate fields with a common interest of animal welfare.  Our area of concentration is on birds, primarily parrots, hence the name, iFeathers. 

Besides blogging about our journey through college, the internships, apprenticeships, and volunteer work we do, we also will be blogging about our own birds, bird experiences, and bird rescues.  And with two of us, it should be double the fun!

So, stick around and enjoy our lives!