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Lacey the Cockatoo - Need advice please!

bri_923

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Okay, this is a bit of a long story, so thank you in advance for taking the time to read this...
Lacey is a 28 yr old sulphur crested cockatoo that lives at the vet clinic I work at. She was the bird of two nice elderly people who had been bringing her to our vet clinic since she was a baby. She has always been a feather plucker and worn a soft e-collar on her neck. She was more the woman's bird than the man's. He and Lacey had a rocky relationship - she liked to bite him. The wife was in a medical rehab while the husband had to go in for surgery for his cancer. Lacey boarded with us indefinitely while this was going on. Unfortunately, the woman passed away from health issues, which left the elderly husband recovering from a major surgery. Meanwhile, Lacey was doing well with us at the vet clinic. She bonded with a few of us. We would have her out of the cage at lunch time and eat with her. There are three of us that she loves and will step up to. She allows about ten more to pet her and has a good relationship with them. She HATES the veterinarian! I think she does not like men & she has had him as her doctor her whole life. Since she was doing well with us after about a month or two, and the couple's adult kids were unable or unwilling to help with the bird, the veterinarian offered for us to take Lacey as an office bird permanently. We went to the house & got all of her supplies and large cage. Unfortunately, since then, the husband has also passed away from health issues :(

Now Lacey lives with us at the vet. We are a small animal general practice (dogs & cats mainly, birds, some rabbits & guinea pigs). We are in the office from ~ 8:30 am - 7:30 pm. She gets covered overnight. On the weekends, there is kennel staff that comes in for the boarding animals & cleans her cage & gives fresh food and water. I am the main person that she is closest to & there are two others that she loves. She normally comes out of the cage when we have lunch - sometimes it's just too busy - and at the end of the day, we take her out and sit with her. When we are slow and there is enough staff, I take her out of the cage as well. She loves boxes, bags, and drawers with paper in it to dig through. She chews on some toys in the cage but not much. She eats zupreem pellets, wheat thins, and whatever we eat for lunch. She gets loud when she wants out of the cage or she knows the day is winding down and she will come out soon. When she is with us, she is content. She still plucks her feathers, but has gotten SO much better with it. In the past 2 yrs, there have been ~ 3 times where she mutilated her leg. She has chewed down to the tendon once and we had to suture and bandage it for a while. The cone is not long enough to protect her leg (if it was, she wouldn't be able to climb around her cage). I take her collar off when she is out with me, so she can have a break and preen. I have to fix it up daily because she like to chew on it. We also try to give her a bath about once a week. She seems to be happy with us. She gets a lot of stimulation on work days with the amount of people and things going on.

Now, besides her plucking, she also has some behavior things that are difficult to deal with. She NEVER bites those of us she loves out of aggression (she likes to pick scabs off our arms). Remember the veterinarian that she hates? Well, there has been one unprovoked incident when she was left in the drawer she plays in for a few minutes alone. She walked across a chair and jumped on the vet (who was getting vaccines out of the fridge) and bit him a few times and wouldn't let go. When she bites like this, she puts all her weight into it and breaks skin most of the time. There was another time, when the vet didn't take her seriously and put his hand for her to step up and she attacked him again. Every now and then, we leave her on the table in one of the rooms. There have been a couple times that she has jumped off the table and chased workers that she dislikes. Of course, we should not leave her unattended. Due to these events, we are now much more careful with not leaving her out without us there. However, this now means that she has less time out of the cage, as we still have to work. She also has some displaced aggression. When the vet comes close or his dogs run in the room, she panics and bites us very hard, drawing blood. We are now being told that we cannot stay too late just spending time with her while clocked in. I am concerned that she will not get the time she needs out of the cage.

So here's the thing... Ideally, she needs a real home. The vet has mentioned it multiple times. She does not have stimulation on the weekends. But rehoming a parrot is obviously not as easy as rehoming a dog (which is difficult enough as it is). She is happy and doing pretty well right now. Not plucking too bad. She has those of us that are her people/flock. All of us have our own animals or situations that prevent us from taking her home. Also, we are always at work! I have struggled with this for a while, and I feel like it's a betrayal and disservice to her to disrupt her life and move her somewhere else. She already lost her family and now if she gets rehomed, she'd lose another.

I love this bird so much. She also loves me. I've never seen such strong bond from a bird. I have gone as far as thinking about moving out of my parents house (to not have the dogs there). I have thought through just taking her home and trying to make it work. But this is not the right home for her. Everyone tells me to just take her home, but it is not practical to try and change my entire life around to take her in. She would not be able to be out of the cage enough and it's an extremely huge responsibility to take on.

How do we go about finding the perfect home? One with a woman that is home all the time, treats her as her child, and is not deterred by the mess of a cockatoo, or the bites that break skin? One that has the knowledge of her needs so that she doesn't regress and self mutilate? Also, is it even the right decision to try and find a home? I am at a loss as to what to do....

Attached are photos of Lacey being her adorable self, some bites she's done, her self-mutilation at it worst, and a before & after of her feather quality.

Thanks for listening, Brianna
 

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Xoetix

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Awww poor thing! The bird and you, and the vet - poor guy :roflmao:

Well, working at the vet office where you see birds as well, is there an owner that is a client that seems particularly good?
 

MommyBird

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Lacey sure was lucky to have a safe landing with you all when both her people passed.
Would it work for Lacey to stay 100% in her cage weekdays at the vet, not being allowed out to cause any trouble, and then come home with you for nights and weekends?
Any new owner would have to be aware of the mutilating and able to pay the vet costs for dealing with it, unless you make it part of the deal to provide the care for that at no or reduced cost.
 

Pixiebeak

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While those bites hurt I'm sure ! They are no where near what they can do when they really want too..think stitches and broken open knuckles. She is showing some restraint!

My suggestion is vet office mascot , and to someone's home on weekends Holliday.. and working on enrichment and foraging
 

bri_923

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Awww poor thing! The bird and you, and the vet - poor guy :roflmao:

Well, working at the vet office where you see birds as well, is there an owner that is a client that seems particularly good?
There are a few, but the ones I can think of have their own health issues or just no more room for an additional bird. That has basically been the plan - to find a client that would be interested in her that we already know.
 

Emma&pico

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Oh my goodness she is so beautiful she can come live with me :heart:

I do agree with above can’t she stay at the vets and just come home with you on a weekend and holidays it sounds like you all do an amazing job with her and she’s happy to me it sounds like she’s super lucky to have you all
 

bri_923

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Lacey sure was lucky to have a safe landing with you all when both her people passed.
Would it work for Lacey to stay 100% in her cage weekdays at the vet, not being allowed out to cause any trouble, and then come home with you for nights and weekends?
Any new owner would have to be aware of the mutilating and able to pay the vet costs for dealing with it, unless you make it part of the deal to provide the care for that at no or reduced cost.
Thank you. Yeah, we have thought about trying to take her home on the weekends, but again, we all have our own pets. I think she would scream her head off all day if she was in the cage 100% of the time.
 

Emma&pico

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@Xoetix you can take her :heart: you know your looking lol (only joking ) but you have done a seriously amazing job her the queen
 

Shezbug

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Ohh she is a tiny wee cutie :swoon: She looks to be a Citron cockatoo to me, I did not realise they were so petite.

I also think if it is possible it may be a very good option (for her) to stay at the clinic (caged) during the day and go home with you (if possible) at nights and on the weekends, she looks to be right at home with you in them pics.
I have a dog and birds too, it can most certainly work if safety measures are put in place to allow for free roaming time for each animal while the other is crated/closed in another room or outdoors etc. All my past and present pets for many many years have been fine with this sort of set up where one is free and the others are restrained for safety, I have nearly always had predator and prey animals so keeping separate was a necessity and I have never had any issues.

I really hope some suitable option comes up to give this bird more of a place in a family, I think it would benefit her greatly.
 

bri_923

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Unfortunately, it just wouldn’t work to take her home with me (or the other two she loves). I have a conure and two dogs and I already feel like my conure doesn’t get enough attention.
My main hope of this post was if anyone has advice on how to go through the process of finding the perfect home for her. How do we get her adjusted to that person so that shes not just uprooted again? Is it advisable to try and post or market that we have a bird in need of a home? I’m afraid that would just attract the wrong type of owner.
I don’t think staying where she is now is going to last. The vet has been getting impatient with her (and It’s his practice). I think she is pretty happy now, but worry that eventually his patience will run out. She tends to yell at the end of the day and some clients or dogs jump and get nervous in the exam rooms.
I also don’t know how to even begin to handle the thought of rehoming her. For myself losing her and for her losing us :( I feel like a horrible person that I’m not just taking her and trying to make it work. But logically I know it’s not the best decision for everyone.:sad1:
 

Emma&pico

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Where do you live it might help people better to help you

you have to think you have done so much for her already got her to a place where she’s happy and content please try not to feelguilty sometimes it’s just all you can if make them in a better position to find they forever home
 

Xoetix

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Unfortunately, it just wouldn’t work to take her home with me (or the other two she loves). I have a conure and two dogs and I already feel like my conure doesn’t get enough attention.
My main hope of this post was if anyone has advice on how to go through the process of finding the perfect home for her. How do we get her adjusted to that person so that shes not just uprooted again? Is it advisable to try and post or market that we have a bird in need of a home? I’m afraid that would just attract the wrong type of owner.
I don’t think staying where she is now is going to last. The vet has been getting impatient with her (and It’s his practice). I think she is pretty happy now, but worry that eventually his patience will run out. She tends to yell at the end of the day and some clients or dogs jump and get nervous in the exam rooms.
I also don’t know how to even begin to handle the thought of rehoming her. For myself losing her and for her losing us :( I feel like a horrible person that I’m not just taking her and trying to make it work. But logically I know it’s not the best decision for everyone.:sad1:
Where are you located?

Even if someone here isn’t able to help directly and take her in, maybe we can point you in a good direction?
 

sunnysmom

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I am not sure how far that is from A Helping Wing rescue. But that could be an option. A good rescue would work to find her the right home. Thank you for caring so much about her.
 

bri_923

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I am not sure how far that is from A Helping Wing rescue. But that could be an option. A good rescue would work to find her the right home. Thank you for caring so much about her.
Looks like about an hr and a half from me. They look like a nice caring place. I’d have to talk to my coworkers and see what they think. Maybe there’s a way they can help find someone without moving her there in between… thank you so much
 

sunnysmom

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Looks like about an hr and a half from me. They look like a nice caring place. I’d have to talk to my coworkers and see what they think. Maybe there’s a way they can help find someone without moving her there in between… thank you so much
They might do that. The rescue I help with will do home to home adoptions where the bird stays with the owner.
 

Xoetix

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Looks like about an hr and a half from me. They look like a nice caring place. I’d have to talk to my coworkers and see what they think. Maybe there’s a way they can help find someone without moving her there in between… thank you so much
Hopefully they’d be good with that! I know a lot of rescues get really packed up with waiting animals, so I would think they’d be happy to have one “foster” in a safe place - especially being a vet clinic!
 
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