Hello and thank you for letting me join! My name is Kelsie, I'm 26 years old and I just brought my grey home a little over a week ago, but I've known her almost her whole life. Here's the backstory:
I work in a pet store, and occasionally we get in large parrots. In the seven years I've worked there I've seen three other baby greys come through the store. I can remember each one very distinctly. Echo, Smokey, and Ash. The only one of those that I still have tabs on is Echo, she's in her second home now but is thriving there and I'm positive they will be her forever home. Smokey and Ash have both disappeared from my life after they left the store. I don't know what's become of them except that Ash was renamed to Apollo and that Smokey was rehomed within six months. And trust me, I get it... this is exactly why pet stores shouldn't carry parrots, especially ones as sensitive and complicated as Greys. I'm in full agreement there. And I thought my bosses were too after Ash. But last summer I came to work to find a beautiful baby grey who wasn't quite fully fledged yet. (She had only down feathers and some pins.) As cute and sweet as she was and despite the fact that I was instantly in love as I always am with baby birds, I braced myself for the emotional roller coaster that was to come. She was on hand feedings for quite a long time, so naturally the bond that developed between us was easy and strong thanks to my inability to keep emotional distance and her trusting nature. I knew that just like the rest, some day I would have to say good bye to this sweet baby and there was a chance I may not be able to keep track of her like I have with Echo. Through a naming contest on the store's facebook page, she ended up with the name Ori, (I've since changed the spelling to Auri, but more on that later) and that was the beginning of our story.
As much as I loved (and still love) the other three, there was something different about Auri. For starters, she chose me. each of the others had their "Person" while at the store, but Auri was the first one to choose me as her Preferred Person. The other thing is that last year was not a normal year. It was very difficult and challenging with the pandemic and being an essential service (pets gotta eat!). Auri was a huge emotional support for me through it all. When anti-maskers spit at me or called me names she was there. When I was stressed and overwhelmed and crying in the back room because we'd just had a non-stop rush of panic buyers stocking up pet supplies out of fear we would close down, she was there. When I was annoyed and angry with customers because they had impulse bought a pet at the beginning of covid and were now having regrets and challenges and refusing to take any advice and instead were insisting that we take the animal back and give them a refund, she was there. When I was working 50-60 hours a week to cover the shifts of sick coworkers, she was there... you get the point, she was there for me. An adorable peekaboo, a kiss, a snuggle... She always knew how to cheer me up.
Over the course of a year, we had no serious inquiries about her. No one seemed to be seriously interested, only casually. Until one day about six weeks ago or so, a lady from a Province over called and asked if we still had our African Grey. She asked a lot of questions and seemed really serious. She'd been looking for a grey for a while now. She promised she'd come in within the next two weeks to meet her and see if it was a good fit. When I tell you that my blood ran cold when I was told this, it's an understatement. First of all, she lived a whole province away?! And I'm in Western Canada, so a whole province is like, a 12 hour drive, usually. Second, according to my co-worker who spoke with her, this lady had several very young children, and thanks to Covid rules Auri had not been socialized with any kids at all. At that point I'd already seen some signs of over-preening in Auri and I knew being in such a high energy environment like the pet store was not great for her, but I also knew that a home with so many young kids wouldn't be much better. Plus... she was my baby. I couldn't let her go so far away to live with strangers. I just couldn't.
So, sort of on an impulse, I went to my boss and I asked how much she'd be with my staff discount. It was still a hefty price tag, but he agreed to let me pay her off slowly and that I could take her home when I was ready. So thanks to my tax refund, selling my homemade masks online, and careful budgeting, I was able to come up with a sizeable deposit and it took me about 5 weeks to pay her off in full. The person who had called from the other province never showed, largely due to their borders closing to non-essential travel I'm sure. But now Auri is home! We still have lots of work to do, she's in a 24" by 24" temporary cage while I refurbish and repair her 36" by 24" cage that I bought off a friend. We have a vet appointment next Monday to get her health checked and to talk about her overpreening and how to intervene before it becomes a plucking issue. So far she's been settling in great! She talks all the time, she loves her veggies and is super great about trying new things. I try to introduce her to at least one new thing every day, whether it be a new type of veggie or a new toy or a new item of some kind. She's very curious, sometimes cautious, but mostly curious. Her full name is Aurora, as I wanted her to match with my cockatiels who all have sky/celestial themed names (Nova, Zephyr, Luna, and Nimbus). Auri is how I'm shortening her name. It suits her.
Anyway I know this is a long post, but I wanted to share our story.
Disclaimer to address some comments I know I'll get:
1. Please don't hate on the store I work at, despite still selling birds and other animals it's really progressive and we all work very hard there to ensure every animal in our care is given the absolute best treatment before they find their forever homes. I'm happy to answer more questions about how our store is different from others in another thread, if that's something people were interested in.
2. I'm not new to parrots. I've never had anything other than cockatiels until now, but I regularly babysit larger parrots and I'm a member of my local Parrot Club which provides education and resources. I am well aware of what I've gotten myself into and I have no regrets.
And now a photo of Auri for tax. This is my favourite photo of her, and it was taken on the day I decided I needed to ask about adopting her and thus officially began the process of adopting her. Thank you to all who read this to the end!