Saturday, April 11 was National Pet Day. This sounded like a cute event, so in addition to the end of Passover prayers and thoughts, and putting away the Pesach dishes so as to run out for a pasta and pizza dinner, we played with the pets a bit more than usual.        I even took a silly photo of my older daughter and one of our four guinea pigs and posted it on Facebook.

Sunday, April 12. I was about to phone my cousin who was coming to visit us when my husband came upstairs and told me sad news: that one of our pet parakeets had died. He said with some urgency, "Tweety died!" And this news hit me in an eerie fashion because not only was it just after National Pet Day but I had also dreamed that one of our birds had died, but the image in the dream was hazy and I couldn't tell which bird it was.

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I went downstairs with my husband and saw that yes, the yellow parakeet lay dead on the floor of the cage. Her blue companion, Harry, seemed to look down in confusion. I asked my husband if we should awaken our daughters to show them this scene, so as to truly believe that the animal had died but he said no. He donned rubber gloves and held open a doubled garbage bag, and tenderly but quickly removed the bird and put it in the bags, and then another. Good-bye, little friend.

The girls were both saddened by this somber event, although none of us cried and carried on. We are all saddened, but the bird had been with us June 27, 2005. We got both these birds on our 6th wedding anniversary. But I have been reflecting on this pretty, sweet little friend that we will no longer see. After all, the kids have grown up with the bird. My father, who passed away nearly four years ago, liked the birds and would whistle at them. When we would go away on vacation, he took care of the birds and our other pets. I think he liked the birds best.

We also feel badly for the other parakeet. Harry knows that his friend is gone, and has been chattering a lot more, as well as gazing in the toy mirror. And we wonder how much longer he will stick around.

I think that small birds are particularly well suited pets for Jewish families. They are low maintenance pets that require vegetarian diets. They make peppy noises. They are pretty and they do have personality. Some can be trained to speak. (We have a cockatiel who says "Hi!" in a raspy croak.) But a lot of my friends who are Jewish have many different pets-- in addition to birds, we have friends who own or have owned dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, hermit crabs, turtles, frogs, and a few other animals. We seem to like the companionship and enjoy watching the animals develop and grow. A pet adds more life and liveliness to your home. You can learn a lot by observing animals.

Heck, Noah had a whole boat full of pets.
RIP, Tweety. Hope you enjoyed your time with us.

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