For my birthday last year, my very enthusiastic Irishman gave me a wonderful, yet controversial gift. If we lived in Karori, it wouldn’t be an issue, but we live in an apartment – one with many rules. “No high heels on the rooftop”, “No fireworks on the rooftop” and the classic “NO PETS”. As a person who grew up with markedly more animal friends than human friends, this rule has been the hardest to obey. To me, the affections of a domesticated animal that has no choice but to play a game or starve is worth ten times its weight in human affection.
I do see the landlord’s point of view in banning pets. A dog could be noisy, a cat could shred upholstery and curtains; both could defecate within an inch of their lives all over the well-worn carpet, thus rendering the apartment uninhabitable for the next 12 months after eviction, and faintly smelly for the next 12 years. I acknowledge that it makes sense to ban pets, but that has not stopped me from finding creative ways to get around these rules.
For example, what if we have a pet that is confined to a cage for the most part, thus keeping its dangerous nether regions under control? What if it was only a tiny creature, one that didn’t take up much space and didn’t produce much waste to begin with? What if it was a beautiful little cockatiel that I got for my birthday named Taniwha O’Driscoll, paying homage to his Kiwi and Irish human parents? Surely that would be OK? Besides, I’m pretty sure the people next door are hoarding a secret cat. I occasionally get glimpses of its large, dark eyes as it fearfully writes in its secret diary. And someone upstairs definitely has a baby elephant that likes to exercise at 6.30am four times a week. So if it’s possible for others to break the rules, why not me? I’m way sneakier than them, and how would I get caught?
Quite easily, it turns out. A cockatiel, a beautiful wee bird native to Australia, is technically a parrot. Which means it’s as noisy as a gaggle of 19-year-old girls on Courtenay Place. On a hen’s night. On New Year’s Eve. Who have all become single recently, and are out in a pack of solidarity to prove they are fabulous and don’t even care. That is how noisy the bird is.
After frantic research, it became apparent that there is no way of shutting him up. It’s what birds do: they make noise. They especially make noise when they are happy, which is where the conundrum lies. The only way to quieten a bird is to cover its cage, making it live in a world of eternal night time, something no animal lover would be comfortable doing.
So we did the grown-up thing. We put his happiness before ours. We couldn’t let him free into the wild, as the Internet told me he would be pecked to death by seagulls. Therefore, Taniwha O’Driscoll has entered into an arranged marriage. The bride lives in a majestic aviary, which counts as dowry. As soon as he clamped eyes on that sexy lady cockatiel, all memories of his human flock faded in a heartbeat. The songs that had been assaulting our ears were a mere warm-up for his seductive courting ritual. It was instant love; and although we miss our little Australian terribly, we know we made the right decision. An apartment is no place for a bird. Though I hear that rats make terrific pets…