One of our guests

Dudley is back at the Hotel Animalia. He’s a blue-fronted Amazon, and a regular boarder at the store. He gets along well with Jack, and really loves Jack’s outdoor cage.

Dudley’s a gorgeous bird, friendly with Jack, but not so friendly with people. He’s bitten David once or twice; if customers are interested in petting him, he warns them off in no uncertain terms.

So why have a bird like this? Well, because most of the time a bird like Dudley is with his family, the people he’s bonded to. In his home he’s probably quite different, in part because he’s much more relaxed. When he’s boarding with us, he’s in a new place, surrounded by unfamiliar people. Some of those people have no experience with birds and don’t know how to approach them. He’s on his guard.

Dudley is a very good boarder; he doesn’t kick up a fuss about everything, he doesn’t attack strangers or pine for his people. He eats and takes an interest in his surroundings, and while he’s not the easiest bird for a stranger to deal with, he lets David put him away at night in his cage.

A few years ago we boarded an African Grey named Cato. We liked Cato, and he seemed all right with us. One day, however, he did something that made me think he was probably smarter than I gave him credit for. We had a customer in the store who was afraid of birds. She was at the cash register paying for her purchase when she noticed Cato sitting on Jack’s perch in the middle of the store.

“Oh, I’m afraid of birds,” she said. “Will he fly at me?”
“No, he’s never flown at anyone,” I said. In fact, I’d never seen Cato take wing at all.

You can guess what happened, of course. Cato immediately did a perfect flight right over her head, just brushing her hair, and slid to a stop on the counter. I thought I was going to have to call 911 for the poor woman.

I bet people hotels don’t have to put up with stuff like that!

Lights! Camera! Action!…

…is exactly what they don’t shout on a movie set. Yes, we heard “action!”, but mostly the warning was “Picture’s up!”, then “Rolling!”

Tuesday the crew of Foxfire, the movie being shot in Sault Ste Marie, came around with a cube van to pick up the hamsters, rats, fish and birds to be installed in the 1950s pet store set. Tuesday evening after work David and I went down to make sure everyone was set up, fed and watered for the night. Wednesday David took the iguana down. (Jack, unfortunately, was going to be way too noisy. No stardom for him!) Here, however, is David next to Tim Hewitt, a Sault Ste Marie actor playing the pet store owner. (Originally Hewitt’s character was going to wear suspenders!)

David was slated to spend the whole day on set, on call to do anything that needed to be done with the animals. I went along because – well, partly because if I hadn’t, this blog post would consist of “It was interesting”.

And it was interesting. As well as our animals, there were dogs, brought in by T.A.A.G.. Whatever the animal was – hamster, puppy, bird, iguana, there was oooohing and aaaahing over it. I was greatly amused to see Katrina Saville taking pictures of the hamsters with her cell phone. Here’s a script supervisor working with an award-winning director, and she’s getting all mushy over some admittedly quite cute little rodents! It just goes to show you – most people love animals.

The animals were well looked after. The crew might be sweltering, the actors might be sweltering, but the animals had air conditioning all day. The dogs were moved into the set for a shoot and moved right back out when the scene was done. If the way the critters were treated on this set is any indication of the industry standard, then the standard is good.

It was a long day for everyone, and by the time we were able to take the animals back to the store it was almost seven o’clock. They were none the worse for wear except that one or two fish died. Even with the air conditioning on in the “store” set, I’m astonished we lost no more than that.

So there’s show business for you. “Foxfire” will be coming out in 2012. We have two budgies and a bunch of finches, hamsters and rats who are now experienced in looking cute for the camera. Wait a minute – they knew how to do that before!

Dave saves fish!

David has started doing aquarium maintenance for other people’s tanks. A friend suggested calling this service “Dave Saved My Fish”, but David said, no, how about just “Aquarium Maintenance by Animalia”. Well, he’s the boss, right?

For a flat hourly fee, he does water tests, water changes, gravel vacuuming, filter maintenance and all those basic things that need to be done to maintain the health of a tank. He can also check for disease and parasites, and do emergency maintenance in case of a serious problem.

Most people who have an aquarium in their home can able to handle the basic maintenance; it’s office tanks that usually need help. Where an aquarium has been installed in a waiting room or lobby, there may not be a staff member with sufficient experience or confidence to take care of it. Having someone come in regularly, even if it’s the minimum once a month for a 25% water change, can make all the difference.

Maintaining an aquarium isn’t really difficult, but for those who don’t have time, or who don’t trust their own abilities, an aquarium maintenance service takes the pressure off and allows them to enjoy their aquarium without worrying.

Leaping Lizards!

We’re live online – all right, maybe not live, but we’re going to be the next thing to it.

This is the official site of Animalia Pets & Supplies. It looks like a pet store, it sounds like a pet store, and it certainly has its share of pet-store-type things to sell, but really….

…it’s a soap opera.

First, there’s David. David owns and operates Animalia. He’s the tall one with the beard and one shirt sleeve perpetually rolled up.

Then there’s Lily. Lily is in love with David, which is a bit awkward, because Lily is an umbrella cockatoo.

Next, Jack. Jack is in love with Lily. Lily thinks Jack should go back to Mars. Jack is also an umbrella cockatoo, and Mars is a very long trip, particularly as Jack prefers to walk.

Besides, Jack also has a thing for David.

Me? I’m the webmistress. I’m also married to David. Jack and I had an argument about this a couple of years ago, and I won, but I think he might be considering a rematch.

I told you it was a soap opera. Call it “As the Bird Yearns”.

Welcome to our world. We’ll be checking in daily with news, stuff that happens in the store, specials and any interesting new products or critters that come our way.

Keep watching this space!