Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Deal or No Deal!

Each day I contemplate ways to give Coco choices, whether seemingly small or large.

She spends much time looking for food (foraging), since she has no bowl. Meanwhile, I'm thinking of new places to put food, or ways to make her 'work' for it. For example, under a bottle cap, behind the egg crate, or between two slats of wood.

I feel choice is even an element in her foraging activities, as there are many different areas in the Fort where she may choose to look for food.

(It is a bit hard to see in this picture, but she has a pellet in her mouth. She had just stretched to reach a difficult to access area to obtain a semi-hidden morsel.)
A smaller example is holding 4 different kinds of nuts/treats in my hand, and offering them to her. She will take a moment to survey the bounty, and choose the one that is most desirable to her at that moment. The others get returned to the treat jar. It is not beyond her to quickly snatch up 2 of the 4 treats before I can blink - that is making a choice as well!

It can be fascinating to watch which treat she chooses. If I were to predict, I may guess right or guess wrong; but one thing is sure - she keeps me guessing. She can be surprisingly unpredictable as to what will suit her fancy at any given moment.

Two days ago she had a hankering for red cabbage. She was tossing broccoli and carrots to the side in an effort to access more red cabbage. I enjoy watching her express her desires and choices. It gives me great satisfaction.

At times, it can be a challenge to remind myself to accept her choices. If she makes one, I must believe it was her preference.

"You wanted the walnut Coco? Are you sure - don't you want this almond?"
No... if she wanted the almond, she would have selected it!

It is also my theory that by her exercising the opportunity to express and act upon her choices, it may in and of itself promote and hone the skills involved in decision making, and possibly lead to greater confidence or precision in certain respects.

Additionally, I give her choices that I find acceptable. For example, I may give her a choice between 3 different vegetables. I do not give her a choice between red cabbage, carrots and potato chips!

As I mentioned several weeks ago, Coco has seemed less than interested in routine showering the past 6 to 8 weeks. During this time, she has been molting. It can be a challenge to see her looking a bit dusty, and within myself desire her to shower. But yet, remain steadfast in providing her the option and accepting the choice she makes.

I believe that she fully understands what showering is about, and I want her to exercise choice when the opportunity is presented.

The way I present the opportunity to her is by taking her into the bathroom. She sits on the countertop while I turn on the shower water, swish the tub, and "talk it up" a bit. She steps onto my wrist, and with my arm horizontal to the tub floor, I slowly lower it into the tub.

If she takes a step up my arm, I interpret that body language as a "no, thank you." If she remains in place, I lay my arm flat on the tub bottom. She can then choose to step off my wrist onto the tub floor (or not).

I do not roll my arm, or toss a seed or nut into the tub, etc. If she desires a shower, she will step off.

Tonight she made me happy - she chose to step off!

She is now finished molting, so perhaps this was a celebratory shower. She did enjoy it, and by default I received one as well. As I sat on the floor next to the tub, she was busy spreading her wings, flapping wildly and spraying me in the process!

Of course, I didn't mind getting wet - I was happy to see her enjoying herself! Shower time seems so instinctual, and she makes sounds that are not heard at any other time.

Once her shower is over, she usually prefers some alone time. Everything must be put back into place and zipped up!

While preening after a shower, it is the only time that she will repeat, for a good 15 to 20 minutes straight: Step up-Good Girl. Others might find it a bit monotonous to hear it, literally over and over, but I love it.

Today, after partially drying, she decided to take a snack break! Look at these cute photos - aren't wet birds the best!



Arlene said...

Coco is very fortunate to have you for a mom.
Such a lucky birdie. :)
It seems like you always know just the right things to do.

wolfgirl1987 said...

Hehe! Such a character! I love hearing all about her choice making. Thanks, Robin!

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