The Great Dane and the Cockatoos

by Tina Blue
April 10, 2001

          During the 1980s, I often visited a masseuse named Alice to have her work on the writer/reader kinks in my neck and back. In their office, Alice and her partner Bruce kept two beautiful cockatoos, who sat on a free-standing perch in the lobby.

          Alice also had a gigantic white Great Dane named "Whitey."

Whitey was a real sweetheart, one of the gentlest animals I have ever known. But he was also oversized, even for a Great Dane. I had never seen such a huge dog! He really was the size of a small pony.

          Alice often kept Whitey in the office while she worked, so when I would arrive for an appointment, Whitey would be lying there in the lobby. As I entered, he would open one eye and greet me by thumping his tree-branch sized tail against the wooden floor. A tail that size could do some powerful thumping, too. I felt the floor vibrate beneath my feet every time Whitey said hello.

          The cockatoos knew Whitey, and they knew he was harmless. In fact, on a couple of occasions, I saw the big guy get up and walk over to stick his nose in their direction, obviously just saying hi to them, too. They didn't seem to mind at all.

          But they were, after all, birds.

          Now, as a type of parrot, cockatoos can hardly be considered birdbrains. They are actually very intelligent animals. But I think that some hardwired instinct worked at cross-purposes to their intelligence and memory, because every time Whitey walked into the office, the birds would squawk, faint, and fall--thump!--off their perch and to the ground. A little avian coronary or something.

          It was as if they had never seen this monstrous creature before. One day he was their big buddy. The next day, he would walk into the office, and they would go "Squawk! Thump!"

          After a couple of seconds, they would revive and return to their perch, and all would be well--until the next day, when Whitey arrived.

          Squawk! Thump!
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