By Katy McElroy
(Illustration by Jeff Riebe)
My friend Sam, a Moluccan cockatoo, is definitely not a creature of the great outdoors. He loves sunning himself in a hornbeam tree near the front porch, exchanging loud, cheerful insults with the cockatoos in the outdoor flights. But let there be a few drops of rain, a gust of wind or a cloud of gnats, (Sam hates bugs) and he’s ready to come inside. Right now! If I can’t rescue him soon enough, he climbs down out of the tree, up the porch steps, over the sleeping dogs and begins chewing on the screen door. Sometime yesterday afternoon I realized that I hadn’t heard Sam for a while. I glanced out the window and saw him standing near the base of his tree, holding one foot gingerly up off the ground, looking thoroughly miserable. When he saw me he tried to take a step, but immediately pulled the foot back up — as if walking was too painful to contemplate. I imagined the worst, of course. The poor bird had fallen out of the tree and broken his leg in a million places. He’d be in a body cast for weeks and his owner would never forgive me.
I hurried outside and knelt beside him.
Sam, the big, sweet wuss, had been stopped in his tracks; grossed out by the mucky green goose poop that he had stepped in on his way to the house.