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  • Bob Puglisi


Updated: Apr 3

As many of you already know, our little cockatiel, Skipper, passed away recently, leaving us sad and our home empty. For the past year, we’ve been preparing ourselves for her demise. We thought last year around this time, she was going to pass on. One day, she was running around on our living room floor; the next day, she was lethargic, stumbling around her cage, having trouble climbing her perches, and falling.

We took her to the vet; he felt she had a little stroke. He informed us that a cockatiel’s lifespan is 10–15 years. That was a surprise because we had another cockatiel who lived to be 25. Skipper was a rescue pet; we didn’t know exactly when she was born, but we figured she must have been 13 or 14. The vet prescribed putting a dish of water in front of a space heater beside her cage and partially covering the cage. We also made it easier for her to get around by lowering her perch close to the bottom and putting her food and water down there. We left her one ladder to climb for exercise. Cockatiels like to sit in high places, so the ladder provided that. Because she wasn’t doing well, we canceled our plans for a California vacation. Eventually, she rebounded.

But most recently, she had trouble with her bowels getting impacted, and we had to put her in the sink with warm water to loosen and remove the poop. We took her to see the vet again. He said her heart and lungs were good.

We had planned a trip to New York to visit family. While away, we kept in touch with our friends who offered to care for her. They said she wasn’t doing well. When we returned, and before we could pick her up, she had passed away peacefully during the night. Someone once said to us when our other bird died while we were away that our pets don’t want us to see them die.  

We attribute some of her problems to the fact that she was a female and laid many eggs in her lifetime. She would lay as many as six eggs in two to three weeks. The whole process would take a lot out of her and make her protective and ornery. Watching her try to gather all the eggs under her was amusing. It was quite a feat. We always said that all the egg-laying would shorten her life, and it did. 

Now, we, too, have joined our daughter and friends who also lost their pets over the last few years.

Around the end of 2023, our daughter Deb and her husband David had to put their Yorkie Jake down. He was 17 1/2. In his last year or so, Deb would take him to the vet three times a week to hydrate him. That alone prolonged his life by at least a year. When he was a pup, we were visiting, and when we were about to leave, Anita couldn’t find her glasses. Afterward, Deb scoured the house and couldn’t find them, either. Several years later, the glasses emerged with Jake’s teeth marks.

Deb said, “The first few weeks without Jake was super hard. Especially because it was right before Christmas. I still sometimes think he's there or think oh, I need to feed him.”


What was the best thing about Jake?

“Despite being a little five-pound guy, he thought he was HUGE. He was a Mama's boy because I did everything for him, but Daddy was his world. Jake was our chief of security and protected us from the killer mailman, UPS and FedEx deliverymen. He could be sound asleep on the couch, but the instant David took food out for himself to eat, he was right by his side so David could share.”


How has your life changed?

“Since he [Jake] ‘went off to college,’ as my friend Rory calls the rainbow bridge. The house is so very quiet. We don't a have a five-pound Yorkie dictating everything that goes on in the house and demanding our attention. As the weather gets nicer, the one thing I miss a lot are our morning and evening walks outside.”

Our friends Steve and Jennifer had a beautiful white Samoyed named Andy. He lived 12 years, five months. Jennifer said, “He was born on Valentine's Day, which made him extra special.” Steve and Jennifer have had several Samoyeds and one Huskey in the years we have known them. We were visiting them when they had to put down one of those earlier, Samoyed. While Steve and Jennifer were at the vet’s, I comforted their Huskey, Kiori, who moaned about losing his playmate. It was a sad day for all of us, especially Kiori.

What was the best thing about Andy?

“Andy was his big personality. He knew exactly what he wanted. It always felt as though we were holding constant conversations with him. He trained us well. Andy liked to sing, and sometimes Steve and I joined in.”


How has your life changed?

“We made a conscious decision that after Andy's passing, we would take a pause from our 38 years of dog ownership. He was also a hard act to follow. At this chapter in our lives, we want to travel for extended periods of time, something we would never do if we had a dog. It just wouldn't be fair. Maybe one day, when we're over the travel bug, we'll get a dog again. They really are love on four legs and offer their heart to you so unconditionally.  We miss the love and closeness that comes from ‘man's best friend.’”

Friends Robert and Aggie also lost their standard black poodle, Olivia, a couple of years ago at 14. My recollection of Olivia is that she didn’t like traveling in a car. She was also very intelligent and laid-back. Olivia was unlike their previous standard poodle, De Elle, who was energetic and loved to chase balls. They lived in a three-story house, and you could play with De Elle by throwing the ball over the railing and it dropped to the bottom floor. De Elle would run down the stairs to retrieve the ball and could do that for hours. De Elle only lived to be 12. Aggie said, “I guess being laid-back gives some more time on this earth.

What was the best thing about Olivia?

“Olivia was quite close to us. One of her most amazing characteristics was talking with her eyes. She would stare at us with those large brown eyes until we got her message. Sometimes we were not quite catching on, and she would come over and nose us to pay attention. She was such a princess compared to our athlete De Elle. Sometimes the look was, ‘I'm fine, just let me alone.’" 

How has your life changed?

We miss her.


The following are my thoughts about Skipper.

What was the best thing about Skipper?

“Skipper ran our house too. She would squawk if we didn’t uncover her cage in the morning. We often heard from her about the amount of food in her dish. She never felt there was enough there. Sometimes, we would swish the food in the dish, satisfying her. She didn’t like overcast days. She loved sitting in the sun. She squawked for us to close the vertical blinds when she had enough sun. If Anita took a nap in the afternoon, Skipper would screech until Anita reappeared from the bedroom. When we sat at the table eating, we looked over at her cage, and she was eating too. She would also tell us when she wanted to be covered for the night. I think the best thing about her was how mentally strong she was. With all the difficulty she endured during egg laying, she got through it.”


How has your life changed?

“The house is quiet, without her chirping and singing. We don't hear her happy greetings when we come in the door after being out. For a year, we couldn’t travel because we were uncomfortable leaving her in anyone’s care, fearing she would pass away. And that’s exactly what happened. She died in our good friend’s care. Now, we are planning several trips.”


If you have had pets cross the “rainbow bridge,” you can relate to this blog. We love our little friends and will carry the happiness they gave us in our hearts forever. Our friend, Steve, said, “We all embrace our pets because they are our friends and loved ones. When they move on, it really hurts. Nonetheless, we are happy for the good years and fond memories.”



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