BONGO MARIE: Alarms, Phones, Doorbells

by Sally Blanchard

When Bongo Marie came to live with me, I didn't know anyone else with an African Grey. I didn't know that it was normal for them to drive us insane answering phones, doorbells, and wondering why the alarm is going off when you knew you turned it off!

It usually takes me about a half hour to really wake up in the morning. When I lived in the Midwest, I used to have a security system with the control box in the bedroom. I would wake up, turn it off, and stumble out to the sliding glass door in the kitchen to let my dog, Chester, out. Often, once I opened the door, I would hear the pre-alarm go off. I would run back to the bedroom and run through the off code again. One morning I started to open the door but for some reason hesitated. The pre-alarm went off in the bedroom. I was quite confused, went ahead and let Chester out and the pre-alarm went off again. As I started back to the bedroom, the same alarm sounded once more. But this time I was finally aware that it came from underneath the covers of the cage in the kitchen. I took the cover off and Bongo Marie looked quite innocent. While for the most part, I am certainly willing to concede that she was doing the alarm as a patterned behavior because she always heard the alarm when I opened the door in the morning, there was certainly an element of game playing added to her continued pre-alarm response.

Of course, I also answered the phone many times when there was no one on the other end. Bongo Marie confused my various dogs into barking for years by learning a faithful rendition of the doorbell. The dogs never really seemed to grasp the fact that when the noise came from Bongo Marie, no one was at the door. But then, neither did I far too often. And then there was the microwave beep that added to the cacophony when I finally got one.


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