Pepper is no longer blind
Animal Stories from

FROM Sarah Gilley
Facebook posting, March 9, 2022
March 2022

Pepper is no longer blind. He saw every color as he flew to the place where rainbows are made.

Parrot Pepper

Pepper was blind. Pepper was around 60 years old. He spent many years locked in a tiny cage outside with feral cats. His food was roach infested, his cage was covered in rust and jagged edges. When he was surrendered, the owner told me, "it's your house or the needle." When she came in to surrender him earlier that day, she was only trying to drop off feral cats on her property. I noticed the picture of the African Grey and asked if she was trying to surrender him, but "no one wants an old, biting bird. I'm having him destroyed in the morning."

Pepper was loved once before. The woman's husband used to cradle him like a baby and sing to him. Pepper knew his name and loved hearing it. I wondered how long it had been since he heard it last.

Because the wife didn't love Pepper. He was "the husband's bird" and a burden. For more than 10 years Pepper was exiled from the home he once shared with his dad.

I quickly discovered Pepper was blind. He wasn't a biting bird, he just couldn't see. But he could hear his name. He was old but strong and not a bird that needed to be "destroyed." A blind parrot was new to me, I spent days researching and trying to build a setup that made sense for him. But Pepper quickly mastered every inch of every cage. He was upgraded to a big boy cage, and he would climb to the top and hang upside down like a disco ball. I padded his cage with towels and blankets for the occasional misstep, but if he fell he just bounced right back up. He played with toys, he ate his fruits and veggies, and he "meowed" happily. And he loved hearing his name. The forgotten bird that was set to be destroyed was thriving.

There are times when I take in a new parrot with the intention of finding them a new home, but I knew Pepper was mine. Brett isn't a parrot person, he normally does his best to coexist with parrots that try to murder him, but he loved Pepper just as much as I did. And Pepper loved having a dad again. We made sure Pepper knew how much we loved him, and we made sure he heard his name every single day.

I knew the time we spent with Pepper was borrowed. I knew that we would have to say goodbye sooner than we wanted to. But it didn't matter how many times I told myself that, there was no amount of preparation that could have prepared us for this. But as hard as this is, I wouldn't trade the time we spent with Pepper for anything in this world. He got to be someone's baby again. He had every right to never trust another human, but he chose to love us anyway. He filled our home and our lives with so much joy and light.

Pepper is no longer blind. He saw every color as he flew to the place where rainbows are made. I know his first dad is cradling him like a baby again. Pepper left our world knowing he was wanted and loved, as all animals should. So if you have the opportunity to love the mistreated, to save the forgotten, to take in a senior animal in need of a home, I hope that you do. 

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