I need to tell you about how a parrot named “Ted” saved the life of a little girl’s pet iguana. I hear you! What a creepy, icky, scaly creature to call a “pet.”
Anyway, back to Ted. Our erstwhile head pet sitter - Karina - paid her usual daily visit to Ted and his cockatoo companion “Snowy” as well as the aforesaid iguana named “Pepper.” Karina’s usual MO was to unlock the front door, disarm the alarm, and start her duties in the back of the house where Pepper resides in an aquarium.
After removing the top of the glass house and giving Pepper the once over, Karina removed the water and salad bowls and deposited them on the kitchen counter then made her way out into the living room where Ted was squawking nonsense and Snowy was moping in the back of her cage, trying to be invisible.
Karina spent about 15 minutes changing the outhouse newspapers in Ted and Snowy’s respective cages. Next she changed Snowy’s water and topped off her food dishes. Ted was a different story - he likes to play “dodge the beak.” So while Karina focused on retrieving the food and water bowls at the bottom of the cage - which of course involved opening the cage door, Ted and his very large and razor sharp beak tried grabbing one of her fingers, then tried to climb her forearm with her left shoulder being the targeted perching zone, then tried to make a flight-out-of-the-cage attempt.
The aforesaid efforts were time consuming but Karina finally prevailed and proceeded to the kitchen to fix Pepper’s daily salad laced with sprayed and sprinkle on nutritional supplements. This is where things go down hill. Karina sauntered into the room in which Pepper was confined and found that he was gone. Gone as in not in his aquarium and no where in sight! Knowing nothing of iguana shenanigans she dutifully called the owner to report the MIA reptile and asked where darling Pepper might be hiding. Of course Pepper was not to be found in any of the suggested places.
It was then that the real panic set in. How long could an iguana go without food? On the advice of her own veterinarian, Karina called an exotic pet veterinarian in Ft. Myers and learned that iguanas are very “resilient” but that it was still imperative to find him/her posthaste, especially since he was loose in an air conditioned environment. The tech on the other end of the line suggested checking warm, dark places. Well that really narrowed things down!
After an hour of crawling around the floor with a flashlight, looking under beds, appliances, laundry machines, ransacking closets, and turning over every stick of furniture in the house to check up in box springs, Karina sagged to the floor in defeat. What’s a pet sitter to do in this dire situation. The wellbeing of a little girl’s pet was at stake here. Karina did not want to make that phone call to the client saying that Pepper the iguana was irretrievably lost, never to crawl around in her mom’s barbie playhouse again.
During this reverie of self-pity, Karina’s ears perked up with promise. Ted was still squawking nonsense; or was he? Maybe he knew where Pepper was. Karina stood in front of Ted’s cage and said “listen buddy, I’ve had it. If you have something constructive to say, say it. Otherwise, pipe down.” Ted cocked his head upward. Karina straightened up and looked straight ahead and suddenly realized she was staring into the eyes of that wily iguana Pepper. Her heart stopped. She fetched the flash light out of her pocket and shone it under the cage cover to make sure she was seeing what she thought she was seeing.
Yep, it was Pepper! Karina’s heart soared and she immediately pulled the cage cover that was draping the rear of the cage to the floor and there atop the parrot cage lay Pepper. But, thought Karina, he sure didn’t look good. He wasn’t blinking, moving, or even seeming to breath. He looked dead. Very dead. This was getting worse by the moment. Now she’d have to tell the little girl that the pet sitter killed her pet iguana.
But then the creature stirred ever so slightly. Karina picked up a hand towel and reached over the top of the iguana and he didn’t flinch. Certain she was going to be picking up an iguana in full rigor, she grabbed Pepper in the middle and lifted, grinding her teeth in panic as she did so. Picking up a live iguana was bad enough, but a stiff and dead one was even worse. But Pepper wiggled a little bit and his very warm body temperature could be felt through the towel. He wasn’t dead - he was faking it, much like geckoes do when silly felines chase and corner them on the lanai.
Karina returned Pepper to his glass house with its clean newspapers, fresh water, and hearty salad. Then she texted the owner: “All is back to normal. Ted is my hero!”