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The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog by…
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The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog

by Nancy Ellis-Bell

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Since I love dogs and admire parrots but have no experience with them.
I could understand the author wanting to give her parrot the freedom she did and while other reviewers have corrected her I hope they do see that she did this not out of a bad spirit but out of love.

Granted like I said I do not have experience with birds and I know as humans we have to be the ones that set the guidelines with them.

I thought the experience/story itself was an interested read and though I was very saddened by the end .
  mikomi6 | Mar 23, 2012 |
This author should not be allowed to have parrots. Ellis-Bell would probably be a bad parent also. You don't allow a child to do whatever they want. Macaws have the intelligience of a three-year-old. They need instruction on acceptable behaviour, for the benefit of the bird as well as the family. To allow Sarah, a blue and gold macaw, to terrorize a household while endangering her own life is unforgivable. To allow Sarah free flight is to allow the bird to commit suicide. Ellis-Bell also adopts other birds and does nothing to help them adapt either.

The final disaster was Ellis-Bell's attitude when Sarah flew away and a lackadaisical search begins. Well, Sarah doesn't return immediately so let's just adopt another macaw. Is Ellis-Bell an animal lover? Not in my book.
  DeBruyn | Jun 9, 2011 |
I saw this book in the store and had to have it. I love parrots and macaws especially. I had a Scarlet once.

The writing was good and the 'story' seemed funny. The story was of how the author rescued a wild-caught, disabled, chronically ill Blue and Gold Macaw. She took in Sarah a bird with one leg, Macaw Wasting Syndrome, and a refusal to allow anyone to touch her.

It seemed a slam dunk as a fun, heart-warming book, until the author opened her mouth as it were. It turned out to be a sad, inaccurate tragedy that could have been prevented.

Unfortunately the funny story was achieved by allowing the bird to terrorize everyone in the family, the author, her husband, their dogs and cats. Just not the way you should allow a macaw to act. They will try to be dominant and if they achieve it they will be badly behaved and dangerous. It may seem to be kind to allow the bird to do what it wants, but it is a false sense of kindness because the bird is looking for safety and structure.

Ellis-Bell compounded her bad decisions by eventually allowing the bird to live outside its cage, even though it was not trained or socialized properly. More terror and destruction ensued. Also very dangerous for the bird. Possibly flying into glass windows/doors, getting bitten or scratched by the dogs and cats, and chewing into wires or toxic household items.

She then decides that the bird should be allowed outside ! She doesn't clip her feathers, she doesn't train the bird to step-up or to come when called. No she just lets the bird do what it wants. They live in Northern California, weather and habitat that is not conducive to survival of a lone macaw, a tropical species.

Which brings us to the other really terrible problem with this book: inaccurate information. She says macaws have no predators, not true. They are large birds, but still preyed upon in their own country and this one by hawks, eagles, and other raptors. She decides that a viral disease, Macaw Wasting Syndrome is really caused by not allowing the bird to fly, because its body starts to digest its own muscles !! She decides lack of flight allows an enzyme to build up and that is why her macaw is sick. She has no medical training, research or information to back this up, she just decides it.

Of course bad things happen. They live surrounded by huge trees 80-120 feet. The bird eventually flies into a huge tall tree, and can't get down. It becomes frightened by the height and the wind and can't move. It is fall coming on to winter and the weather is cold and wet. It ends up in a low 80 foot tree. After several days, the author, rather than try to go to her, or putting up a ladder so she can climb down. gets a tree climbing stranger to go up. The terrified bird flies from tree to tree, deeper into the forest. She spends several more nights outdoors in bad weather, no food, water, or warmth.

This is when the author becomes unbelievable. While her bird is lost, and fighting for her life, Ellis-Bell is shopping for another macaw. I am not making this up. She is told of a hand-fed scarlet that needs a home, and goes to visit it. She eventually gives up on Sarah, deciding that she is still alive, but flew off to be free. She brings home the new bird, and life goes on. Of course Macaw Wasting Syndrome is very contagious, and she doesn't talk at all about cleaning and disinfecting where Sarah was.

At some point they find Sarah's body at the foot of a tree.

Her bio says she had 3 macaws. We know about Sarah and the new one, but that means there is another that she doesn't talk about. what a shame it was probably killed or injured by her stupidity as well.

What I don't understand is why the publisher allowed this book to see the light of day, and to push it as a triumph of love. It is a triumph of shallow, selfish, stupidity. ( )
3 vote FicusFan | Oct 18, 2009 |
Beat the Reaper. Josh Bazell.2009. The author is a Jewish physician who also has a degree in English Lit. This far-fetched plot involves an intern who is in the witness protection program. When a mobster who has been admitted to the hospital discovers who the doctor is, chaos follows. There are graphic descriptions of illnesses and violence and much strong language. And his comments on the state of medical care in the U.S. are frightening, and he is wrong about his comments about the Vatican during WWII. This book will not suit everyone but I enjoyed it. It reminded me an older comedic/tragic novel that took place in a hospital, House of God. ( )
  judithrs | Sep 8, 2009 |
I think Nancy Ellis-Bell may be a little bit crazy. I have heard of love for animals before, but she is willing to go above and beyond. When she adopted a wild caught macaw named Sarah, she knew that she was inviting a potentially violent and destructive animal into her family’s midst. Sarah had been living in captivity for the past few years, first brought to the United States by a would-be breeder. When the breeding scenario went bust, Sarah was given to a bird rescue organization where Nancy found her and took her home.

While Sarah was not overly destructive or violent, she did turn their home upside-down. What amazed me the most was Nancy’s willingness to let it happen. After a few months of living with Sarah, Nancy decided to let the bird out. She followed Nancy first all over the house, then all over the yard, and then Sarah was exploring on her own. She dug up flowers, scratched marks into furniture, tore up work papers, and took short flights from one tree to the next. One day, Sarah flew higher and farther than ever before; unfortunately, she never flew back down again. Nancy never saw Sarah alive again, but she did adopt another exotic bird in short order. What better way to calm the loss of one thing than to replace it with another, I suppose.

Sarah’s antics are humorous, mostly because they didn’t happen to me. (I would have had to control an urge to wring the bird’s neck.) This would be an eye-opener for exotic bird owners, and she does offer plenty of well-written advice interspersed throughout the story for those interested. As a testament to her love for her bird, Nancy offers this glimpse into the world of a macaw and her patient owner.
  Carlie | Aug 16, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030740594X, Hardcover)

The last thing Nancy Ellis-Bell expected to descend on her life was a neglected, too-tall, smart-mouthed, one-legged, blue-and-gold rescue macaw named Peg Leg. And yet, it made perfect sense. A lifelong animal lover, Nancy could never turn away a stray cat, dog, squirrel, or raccoon from her California farm. But the macaw, quickly rechristened Sarah, was a whole new challenge, as Nancy, her husband, Kerry, and their furry menagerie would find out.

Initially timid of her new surroundings, Sarah soon imposed her four-foot wingspan into the family homestead—first claiming the laundry basket, then conquering a prized dresser—and achieved complete household domination. Nancy couldn’t “bird-proof” the place fast enough, and it was not long before Sarah started stealing the dogs’ toys—using her enormous beak to disembowel Ben the mutt’s treasured stuffed bear—and bathing her richly hued feathers in their water bowl. She also peppered Nancy’s phone conversations with expletive-laden outbursts. There seemed no end to Sarah’s realm, nor her destruction, and it dawned on Nancy that the entire house had slowly transformed into a birdcage.

On the other side of the coin, Sarah started to abandon her own raptor instincts when she discovered that dog food was pretty tasty and that she had a knack for “barking” (and a few other sounds that alarmed the neighbors). As they all learned to live together, Nancy marveled that Sarah had truly found a place to call home, but she sensed that there was something she could give Sarah to make her feel more complete: a chance to fly again.

Touching, eye-opening, and laugh-out-loud funny, The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog is a tender tale of two worlds colliding, two lives enriched, and two souls restored. It is also a rewarding reminder that love can come from the most unexpected places.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:55 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A memoir of one family's life after adopting a rescued macaw, a one-footed, expletive-loving bird named Sarah that quickly takes over the house, the family, and the dog, and the misadventures they experienced before teaching the neglected bird how to fly.… (more)

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