Birds of a Feather Make my 2020 Better

An example of how pets help our mental health

Aya Kasim, Editor-in-Chief

I consider myself a positive person. From words of encouragement to sunflower outfits in the midst of rain; I know how to continue on during bad times. But, this year presented a bad time like no other. 

Just as most people, I have felt ball and chained to my home for the sake of personal and societal safety. Remote learning is lonely and at times unbearable, but in the last four months, I have learned to lean into the small things that get me through the day. Sometimes it is a good song, a new recipe, a meaningful movie, or even, as of late, birds. 

A few weeks ago, my dad came home with two parakeets. I had asked him the same question I do everyday, “How was work?” 

“It was good. I got birds,” he replied nonchalantly.

“Oh, okay…huh?”

“I got birds.”

You see, my family and I had never discussed getting birds. It was not a back-burner wish or a past Christmas promise, but when my dad’s friend offered him two colorful and lively parakeets, my dad could not pass up the chance.

In the days following their adoption, the birds–one a bright yellow girl and the other a blue, grey, and white boy–adjusted fairly well to the change. Their large cage was moved to the dining room and their diet became a more healthy mix of fruits, veggies, and seeds. They chirped in conversation in the morning and, astonishingly, were quiet by nightfall.

My initial skepticism towards them and the whole situation quickly turned to fondness as I worked next to the cage every day. And, let me tell you, these are not birds. They are vivid, unique, and strange characters in bird form. The yellow is a calm and graceful presence with a logical approach to life and the blue is contrasting paranoia and with a dramatic flair.

PC: Aya Kasim

 Taking these qualities into consideration and with the help of a great friend, I decided to name them Eliza and (Alexander) Hamilton. 

My family’s collective goal is to help them become more comfortable around us–a slow and complex process. But, I knew that the first step was taking down all our bird decorations. At first, my parents did not grasp the importance of this until I asked them to imagine: you are exploring a new environment and suddenly discover 2D and taxidermy versions of yourself…we took the decorations down immediately. 

Eliza was the first to be let out of the cage several times. We thought we were making great progress, but each time she was put back in, Hamilton would refill her mind with conspiracy theories about us.

PC: Aya Kasim

I am not joking. 

These birds are an adventure–one that I am very grateful to be a part of. Firsthand, I have seen the great role pets play this year. Eliza and Hamilton have brought excitement and life to an otherwise plain and quiet dining room. Their songs echo throughout the house like a built-in nature sounds playlist. And because of such, my days have been much better.

Pets of all kinds have had this effect on owners. In a time isolation, the companionship pets offer is invaluable.  

“I had guinea pigs for a while and it was really nice to have something that gave me responsibilities, because it gave me a reason to get out of bed and keep up a routine,” senior Natalie Hickman said. “After them, I got into aquariums and the science behind them, and when I got my fish, it was the most rewarding feeling. It’s awesome to have living things in my room because it makes me feel less alone.” 

Although shows, books, and art are great relievers of stress, the fulfillment, joy, and excitement brought by pets is unmatched. Show your appreciation for your furry–or feathered–companions with a hug or treat today. And, if you are considering adopting or fostering a pet, do it!