Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Life as I Knew it - Part 2


Mr. Paul, alias Heinz

When we left Nigeria, we gave Mr. Paul to the Hart Family. Like us, they had a houseful of kids and we knew they would enjoy a talking parrot. They renamed Mr. Paul, giving him the name of Heinz (as in Heinz 57) because he could say such a variety of things.

Before they left Nigeria, the Harts sent Heinz back to states in the care of their grandfather until they could arrive. He took the bird to a local bar on his shoulder where Heinz entertained the patrons by talking and even drinking beer from his mug!

This is one of the stories of Heinz’s life in America written by Russell Hart.

Do parrots really have a personality? Shortly after returning to the States, my Grandmother bought my sister Vicki a miniature silver poodle for her birthday. We called the poodle Pete. Not long after the dog’s arrival in our home, the Parrot / Heinz/ Mr. Mrs. Paul, developed the ability to call the dog. And when I say developed the ability, I mean he could call the dog and sound like anyone of the six of us he chose. We each had a different way of calling Pete. We found it quite amazing that he learned so quickly just by listening as we went about our normal daily activities. This was not something anyone deliberately taught him.

We soon noticed that every time Heinz called the dog, Pete was ALWAYS at the other end of the house, usually in my sister’s room. Heinz/ Mr. Paul’s cage was in the back corner of the dining room, at the other end of the house. What makes this noteworthy is the layout and design of the house. The moment Pete would hear the call he would pop up and run as fast as his miniature legs would allow. Pete had great traction for a quick run through the carpeted bedroom, hallway and living room and the carpet's traction also helped greatly to maintain full speed on Pete's sharp left turn to enter the kitchen. However the kitchen and dining room were tile. The dining room was located immediately to the right of the kitchen requiring a sharp right turn into the dinning room.

Pete, now at full speed, would attempt this turn only to slide across the tile floor for a distance of about 15 feet only to slam into the cabinets. This at least slowed Pete down enough to make the turn into the dining room which he had slid past.

However, no one (not even the person who Pete thinks called him) was ever there. Just the bird in the back corner turning circles in his cage. Sometimes the person who Pete thought called him was my sister who was in the room with Pete when he thought he heard her call from the dining room. (dumb dog )

This went on for years. The dog was fooled each and every time, which was usually several times a day. Until one day when sadly, Pete was run over by a car in front of the house and died. From that day forward Heinz never called Pete ever again. NOT ONCE. (Note: Heinz lived another 20 years after Pete's death )

So I pose this question: Was Heinz just repeating the sound of us calling the dog. (which he likely would have continued if in fact he was just copying us) or.....was he messing with the dog on purpose for his own entertainment?

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