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!

Jack will be impossible to live with….

As though his ego weren’t big enough already, Jack is going to be one of the animals, birds and fish featured in Foxfire, the new movie being filmed in Sault Ste Marie. You can find the story here.

The film company called David last week to ask if he’d be willing to supply animals for a shot of a 1950s pet store for the movie. He’ll be taking birds, fish and some furry critters down to the set and staying around for the shoot to make sure the animals are all well cared-for and properly set up.

The movies is based on a novel by Joyce Carol Oates. When it comes to the Sault, we’ll definitely see it. Jack won’t be able to see it on the big screen; we’ll just have to rent the DVD for him to watch.

I guess I’ll have to make him popcorn, too.

Jack catches some rays

Here’s Jack’s new summer cottage, on the west side of the building  where he can catch some afternoon sun. If you look at the window you can see Jack behind it inside the store. This picture was taken before the weather was really warm enough to open the window.

David put a branch in for Jack and Lily to perch on. So far Lily doesn’t seem to be interested in the outdoor cage. She’d prefer to set up serious housekeeping in a cardboard box, making a gorgeous nest out of shredded cardboard.

“That’s okay,” Jack says, “I don’t mind having the place to myself.”   

Spring is sprung

Most people open the cottage on the Victoria Day weekend. Jack, however, is getting a head start. David has put up a spacious outdoor cage, which Jack can get to through the side window above his sleeping cage. We don’t know if Lily will like this new “cottage”, but we know Jack’s happy with it.

This month you’ll notice some fencing going up at the back of the store. We’re putting the koi ponds and pond plants outside this year, where they’ll benefit from the sun. Koi develop brighter colours in outdoor ponds, even without specialized feed. We’ve noticed that the yellowish hi utsuri we took home last fall has become quite bright.

At the moment we have four large koi, but we’ll be bringing the smaller ones in from their winter quarters  as soon as the outdoor pond is set up at the store.  We’re pretty sure, by the way, that the large white doitsu with the mirror scales down the back, the one at the top of the picture, is a female.

On June third we’ll have brand new koi. We’re hoping to get them from Gord at Koi Koi Koi, but we’ll have to see what he has, as he’s moving and has had to cut back on stock for this year only.

For those of you who’d like to hear more humourous stories from the pet store, check out Elizabeth’s new blog, North by NorthEast, at Pet Product News.

Jack is the supervisor

…of the fish room renovations now nearing completion. 

David says that Jack has taken up his post on one of the metal crossbars of the racking for the aquariums. He sits there all day, forsaking the attention of customers and even his courtship of Lily. It’s hard to tell if she misses him – she’s probably playing impossible-to-get, or maybe she really doesn’t care.

Of course, as long as David’s in there building, and Jack is supervising, Jack gets David all to himself. All becomes clear – he’s not really interested in the fish room at all!

As the Bird Yearns…

As we return to our story, Jack’s ongoing courtship of Lily meets with a small success.

Today Jack called on Lily at her cage. He knocked at the door.
“Hello?” he said.
He entered; perhaps not the wisest move. Lily screamed at him. “AAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!”
Jack screamed back. Lily screamed louder. There was much flapping of wings.

Except for the words, and the tune, and the orchestral accompaniment, it was just like a rendition of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”, cockatoo-style.

Strong men blanched. Women fainted. Bats fell out of the rafters. Telephones rang unheard. Neighbours called the police. All right, I’m exaggerating about the neighbours.

Eventually Jack retreated to the top perch in the cage, while Lily sat on the floor of the cage and muttered to herself.

Is she relenting? Or just ignoring him and hoping he’ll go away?

Tune in to our next episode…

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!