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What Were You Thinking on ></a><a href=Bob Tarte, host of What Were You Thinking on

Bob Tarte
Exotic Pet Expert & Author

Linda Tarte

From "Pet-Free" to Forty!"

On the premiere episode of What Were You Thinking?, author Bob Tarte (Enslaved by Ducks,, Fowl Weather and his wife Linda talk about how they went from a blissful, pet-free existence to a life of constant demand from over 40 animals. They discuss some of their first animals and extol the virtues of doves as companion birds. Linda explains how you can be a part of the show and share your experiences with birds, reptiles, guinea pigs, rabbits, tarantulas, rats… you name it!

Female Announcer: You're listening to

Male Announcer: You've had a long day at work, and you can't wait to just get home, take off your shoes, plop yourself down in your favorite chair and relax. Ah! You walk up to your tranquil residential home, and your neatly manicured lawn in your quiet suburban neighborhood, put your key in the lock, open the door and...  [animal and bird noises, with crashing sounds] Yes, the pets have gone wild! What were you thinking?

Welcome to the show about everything you always wanted to know about exotic pets: where to get them, what to feed them, and how to care for them. You'll even find out why some people live with a monkey!

Now, here's your host, exotic pet expert and author Bob Tarte. Hey, Bob, what were you thinking?


[sound of door opening]

Bob Tarte: Duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, duck. Come on and get your food, come on! Got some stuff for you.

Linda Tarte: Sweetie, sweetie, you'd better hurry, you're going to be late for your podcast.

Bob Tarte: Oh my gosh, thanks for telling me.


[sounds of hurrying]

Bob Tarte: Wait a minute... the podcast starts anytime!


Bob Tarte: Hi, I'm Bob Tarte, author of the books “Enslaved By Ducks” and “Fowl Weather”. And you're listening to the first, and possibly the last ever, episode of “What Were You Thinking?” a weekly Internet radio show about exotic pets.

Joining me is my wife Linda, who plays a very large role in both of my books for reasons that we'll be getting to shortly.

Also joining me, as you can probably hear right now, are some of our pet birds – they're chattering away in the background even as I speak. There's Howard the dove. “Hi, Howard!” [dove coos] African Grey parrot Dusty, African Grey parrot Bella. Cackling and talking, we have parakeets Harvey and Sheila.

Now, at various times you might also hear a few outdoor birds trying to get into the act, plus assorted traffic noises, our furnace or our air conditioner, hail, raging winds, thunder, blizzards and, of course, the telephone.  That's because Linda and I said: “No! Absolutely not!” to the offer of doing “What Were You Thinking?” from a state-of-the-art studio for a seven-figure salary. That's not for us, is it, Linda?

Linda Tarte: No, it is not.

Bob Tarte: No, and instead we said: “Yes!” to doing the show from our dining room at no salary whatsoever.

So, on this, our very first show, we're going to talk a little bit about how I became a pet person, thanks to Linda. And we'll also talk about some of the animals we've had over the years. We'll also talk about what we'll be doing on future episodes of “What Were You Thinking?” and how you can be on the show. Linda has lots of ways that you can contribute. Finally, we're going to talk about one of our pets, just one this week, and we'll probably talk about one pet each week. And, we're going to talk about a type of pet bird that's generally overlooked when people think about getting a pet bird. And he's our dove, Howard. Howard's... how old is Howard right now, Linda?

Linda Tarte: About 17 years old, I think.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, Howard's about 17, and he's just a wonderful bird. I mentioned my books, and my first book, “Enslaved by Ducks,” - that's published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, just to give my publisher a plug there – is the story of how I went from living a peaceful, pet-free existence in our home in West Michigan, to living an existence of almost constant pestering, thanks to a couple of dozen animals, as of the writing of that book. How many animals do we have now, Linda?

Linda Tarte: Oh, approximately 45 assorted pets, indoor and outdoor.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, besides the indoor pets, we have ducks and geese and hens outside, and at one point we had turkeys. And Linda and I are going to talk about how this all happened, and how I became a pet person - Linda was always one but, I guess, how she turned me into a pet person. Linda, what was our first pet?

Linda Tarte: Was it Binky?

Bob Tarte: Yup.

Linda Tarte: Well, Binky we got in 1989, and I think we went to a rabbit show at the mall, and there was all kinds of rabbits in cages, and the one we picked out was a Dwarf Dutch that was black and white, and we named him Binky.

Bob Tarte: Now, you said there was all kinds of wonderful rabbits. Would you describe Binky as a wonderful rabbit?

Linda Tarte: He didn't happen to be one of the wonderful ones. [laughs]

Bob Tarte: No, Binky was pretty anti-social and we were pretty green as far as what to look for in a rabbit.

Linda Tarte: He was just very little when we got him.

Bob Tarte: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: Bob sat on the couch with him and there was a little problem there right from the beginning.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, first of all we should have known something was wrong with Binky when we couldn't even carry him out of the mall ourselves, he was just...

Linda Tarte: Feisty.

Bob Tarte: Feisty... clawing and scratching, and the man we bought him from had to carry him out to the car for us. Then we got him home, and Linda told me: “Well, he just needs to be held a little bit” so...

Linda Tarte: It didn't seem to go too well.

Bob Tarte: No, I held Binky on my lap and he promptly peed all over me.

Linda Tarte: Yes, on our nice new couch.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, brand new couch, and so that was...

Linda Tarte: An unfortunate situation

Bob Tarte: Yes, it was. Now, Linda, you had talked me into getting a pet rabbit because bsically you had presented the case that rabbits wouldn't be any trouble at all.

Linda Tarte: Quiet animals, no trouble.

Bob Tarte: OK, so maybe you want to talk a little bit about whether Binky was trouble, at all.

Linda Tarte: Well, he pretty much was trouble from the first day we got him. He, as you said, was not the friendliest creature in the world, and he would run from us, and he turned his back on us. He did like to sit in the same room with us, I will say that for him. And he liked to sit near us, but he always turned his back on us. That was one unusual thing he did. And he also loved chewing on electrical wires – we'd never had a creature that liked chewing on electrical wires as much as Binky did.

Bob Tarte: And he didn't just chew on any wire, although, I guess, given the chance he would, but he liked to go for my most expensive wires like... Remarkably, we gave him pretty much the run of the house, at the time, and  he would go upstairs and...

Linda Tarte: Hide.

Bob Tarte: ... Hide but also, before doing that, bite through some of my most expensive computer cables.

Linda Tarte: Yeah, he loved to hide and bite wires. That was one of his favorite activities in life.

Bob Tarte: And one time...

Linda Tarte: He got his whiskers zapped one time doing that.

Bob Tarte: He did! We pulled him out - he used to like to wedge himself between the bed and our wall and bite electrical wires - and I remember taking him out once, and we found that on one side of his face, his whiskers were all fried.

Linda Tarte: Mm-mm.

Bob Tarte: So, he was quite an education. He also loved...

Linda Tarte: Remember the little lavender harness?

Bob Tarte: Oh, OK. Why don't you talk about that a little bit?

Linda Tarte: Well, we didn't trust... we didn't have a pen for him outside, and we wanted to take him on a walk, and we thought we'd get him a little harness, and take him on a walk that way. But, sort of like cats are, he was very stubborn about that harness. He didn't like us putting it on him, for one thing, and he certainly did not like taking walks with it for another thing. He would either bolt forward really fast and then stop real stubbornly, and not move after that, or just in general he would just sit perfectly still and not want to move at all.

When we were up at my cabin – before we were married I lived up in my cabin at Morley – and there was a little cliff. And he would run straight for that cliff, and then I would have to try to pull him back before he – it wasn't a steep cliff, but a cliff that had a swale at the bottom of it – and he would perversely want to run for that cliff, just so that I would... to make me mad, I presume. But... he was a very cute little rabbit, but always had bad habits.

Bob Tarte: He did. And now, that was our first animal, and Linda was very clever, not duplicitous, but she talked me into getting the rabbit, because I think – you didn't think he'd be any trouble, did you?

Linda Tarte: No, and he was so adorable.

Bob Tarte: He was, he was cute. The next bird - and we're going to talk about Howard later – but Howard the dove, and Linda - remember I still wasn't a pet person at this point -  Linda got Howard into the house by giving Howard to me as...

Linda Tarte: An anniversary present.

Bob Tarte: An anniversary present.

Linda Tarte: Very first anniversary, as a present, in 1991. 

Bob Tarte: That's right, and we also at that time around then, we got a para... excuse me, a canary named Chester, and again...

Linda Tarte: He was a present.

Bob Tarte: He was a present.

Linda Tarte: You can't refuse a present.

Bob Tarte: No, and so, you know, I opened up a suspicious cage-shaped package on my birthday.

[Linda laughs]

Bob Tarte: I heard a rustling inside, and I knew that I was doomed, and there was a very nice canary named Chester.

Linda Tarte: Who acted a lot like a parakeet, after we got parakeets.

Bob Tarte: He did! He was not a shrinking violet.

Linda Tarte: Not at all.

Bob Tarte: He would chase the other parakeets, and in fact we later got another canary named Elliot, who...

Linda Tarte: Acted the same way.

Bob Tarte: Even feistier, I would say.

Linda Tarte: Oh, yeah.

Bob Tarte: And then the first animal I think, after a while, that we actually sought out was a parrot. Oh, that's right, we had a little green pocket parrot named Ollie, and we're going to be talking about Ollie at great length on another show, but Ollie was a most unfortunate entry into the world of parrots. What would you like to say about Ollie?

Linda Tarte: Well, Ollie makes Binky look like a gilded angel, let's put it that way.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, we describe him as  sort of the Mussolini of parrots and he really was a little dictator: he wanted something...

Linda Tarte: Loud.

Bob Tarte: Loud.

Linda Tarte: Pretty much continuously.

Bob Tarte: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: You could hear him down the road.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, I write in my book “Enslaved By Ducks” that if you were to hear one or two chirps from Ollie, you wouldn't think much of it. It seemed fairly inoffensive, but he wouldn't unleash these chirps one at a time. They would be in tens, hundreds, thousands. There would just be strings and strings of these chirps and you'd hear them all day, and it was because he wanted something.

Linda Tarte: There was pretty much no time during the day when he didn't want something.

Bob Tarte: Right, and he was amiable enough. Ollie would... he loved people, and if there was one thing he loved more than people, it was biting people.

Linda Tarte: Mm-mm.

Bob Tarte: Talk about what would happen when Ollie rode on someone's shoulder. 

Linda Tarte: He'd be good for approximately, oh, 30 seconds, maybe one minute if you were lucky, and then you'd get, sort of an unpleasant little nip on your neck or your cheek.

Bob Tarte: Yep. Sometimes...

Linda Tarte: Or, if he's on your finger, on your finger.

Bob Tarte: Sometimes it would draw blood.

Linda Tarte: And that would be probably because he wanted me to sing. He liked to hear me sing, because he would sing along with me in his own fashion, and if you weren't singing to him, he had to punish you for not singing to him.

Bob Tarte: That's right. Now Ollie, I should mention, is... Ollie was an Orange Chin Pocket Parrot, and that's a member of the Brotogeris family.

Linda Tarte: You got him from a pet shop.

Bob Tarte: Yep, he was a little green parrot.

Linda Tarte: The lady that was there was not the proprietor, she was someone that was taking over while the proprietor was at a bird show, and most all the birds in the shop were at the bird show. Many of them were. He was one of the ones that was left behind, and I think we know why.

Bob Tarte: Yes, that's because he was a naughty bird that no-one in their right mind would buy.

Linda Tarte: [laughs] Yes, that's why we...

Bob Tarte: And we bought him, for reasons unknown.

Linda Tarte: Well, we took him back once, remember?

Bob Tarte: We did.

Linda Tarte: Right in the beginning.

Bob Tarte: Ollie was so naughty, that after...

Linda Tarte: Back he went.

Bob Tarte: ... after about a week with him, was it?

Linda Tarte: Oh, it wasn't even a week.

Bob Tarte: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: You wanted a nice bird.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, and I was tired of getting holes chewed in my flesh and holes chewed in my shirt collars. So I took him back  

Linda Tarte: That's it. He's going back.

Bob Tarte: And we brought back a...

Linda Tarte: Gray Cheeked

Bob Tarte: Gray Cheeked Pocket Parrot, that was so mild-mannered.

Linda Tarte: No personality.

Bob Tarte: No personality.

Linda Tarte: We both wept at the breakfast table over having taken Ollie back. We felt so bad we immediately went back and got him.

Bob Tarte: We were like kidnap victims who fall under the spell of their captor.

[Linda laughs]

Bob Tarte: So we made the biggest mistake in our life...

Linda Tarte: And went back and got him.

Bob Tarte: We went back and got him.

Linda Tarte: Pleaded to have him back.

Bob Tarte: That's right. So, these are just a couple of the animals that we've had over the years.

Linda Tarte: Remember Binky's – we forgot to say about Binky and his favorite food.

Bob Tarte: Oh, go ahead.

Linda Tarte: Banana.

Bob Tarte: Oh, yeah.

Linda Tarte: He would always beg for bananas every time he was out at a mealtime, and he would... We got some good photographs of him eating his bananas.

Bob Tarte: That's right, that's right.

Linda Tarte: And he liked a bedtime song.

Bob Tarte: Oh, would you like to perform that bedtime song?

Linda Tarte: I don't remember the whole thing, but you'd have to kneel down by his cage, put your... kind of pat him while you're singing to him. [sings] Oh he's the bunny, the very best bunny, oh he's the bunny for you and me.   Oh he's the bunny, the very best bunny, he's the best  bunny, can't you see?

Bob Tarte: Oh, my head hurts.

Linda Tarte: I wouldn't always say that put him to sleep, but he liked it.

Bob Tarte: No, it drove me out of the room, I'll say that.

[Linda laughs]

Bob Tarte: OK, well, I think we'll leave some of the other animals for future shows, because we've got turkeys and geese and ducks and all kinds of things to talk about. We'll be right back, with more of “What Were You Thinking?” after these potentially important messages.

Male Announcer: “What Were You Thinking?” will be right back after Bob gets the ducks out of his living room. Don't go away.

Female Announcer: School's in session in PetLifeRadio with “Teacher's Pet”. Learn how to communicate with your pet, train your pet, and see the world from your pet's point of view. You may even learn a few tricks yourself. “Teacher's Pet” with pet expert and author Sarah Wilson. Only on

Male Announcer: Let's talk pets on

Male Announcer: OK, ducks are in the pond, rabbit's in his hutch and monkey's... ow! In my car? OK, while I go check my insurance policy, we'll turn you back over to Bob.

Bob Tarte: OK, welcome back to “What Were You Thinking?” Now, this show isn't always going to be just Linda and me talking. We're going to be having guests on  future episodes of “What Were You Thinking?” if we can corral anybody.

Linda Tarte: We want to hear from you.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, that's right, but I plan on trying to get other pet book authors, animal rehabbers, even some wild bird experts, and of course owners of exotic pets of all types. Exotic, at least according to how veterinarians classify it, means pretty much any animal except...

Linda Tarte: Rabbits, chickens, ducks...

Bob Tarte: Anything but a dog or cat.

Linda Tarte: Reptiles, turtles. Those are considered exotic.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, anything but a dog or a cat. Even a parakeet is exotic, think of that. So Linda has some great ideas about what she'd like to see on the shows, so go ahead, Linda.

Linda: Well, these are just some things that I happened to think of that I wrote down. We'd like to hear from people all over the country and even outside of the country, telling about their lives with whatever pets they have, and what are some of the unusual habits of your pet or pets? How does their personality blend, or sometimes not blend, with your personality?  What things about your pet do you especially love? Are there some special problems or annoyances you'd like to discuss? Maybe somebody out there has the same problem, has dealt with it and come up with a good solution to it. So we'd like to hear from you about things like that. We'd really like to hear from people who have unusual pets, that are so fun to hear about.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, I've gotten emails from people who have mice and tarantulas and probably even things... Do you remember anything more unusual than that? 

Linda Tarte: Well, I don't know, but wouldn't you think people in other parts of the world would have different kind of pets? I'm just curious about that.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, that's a good point.

Linda Tarte: We'd like to hear from people who have lots of pets. That's always fun to hear about, and those who have a job involving pets and how that goes.

Bob Tarte: Do you think people...

Linda Tarte: We'd like to hear stories, especially stories, we love to hear stories about pets. I think that's so fun to hear the stories about people and their pets.

Bob Tarte: I'm wondering if people who have lots of pets, or that work with pets for a living, would be in any kind of mental condition to even come on this show.

Linda Tarte: [laughs] A situation like us, for instance.

Bob Tarte: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: How did you come to get your pet? And is there any special story involved in getting that pet? What was there about this particular pet that made you want to have them so much and bring them into your life? Do you have a pet that's particularly human acting or babyish acting or spoiled acting or whatever? I'm sure you've got some ideas on that.

If you have any good ideas on pens, feeds, toys, or anything that enhances the lives of pets, we'd like to hear about that. Are there some special games or activities you share with your pets that you think everybody would like to know about? And we would like to know about the traits of your pet, and what makes them so special.

Bob Tarte: Or not special.

Linda Tarte: Or not special. If there's something you would like to hear about on the show, we're certainly open to suggestions.

Bob Tarte: If you want us to just go away, I guess you can tell us that, too.

Linda Tarte: [laughs] So, anything, any good ideas you've got for topics, Bob would love to hear them, I'm sure. We've had so much enjoyment with our pets over the years, and we're really looking forward to being in contact with other people who love animals like we do, and whose lives are closely linked to animals.

Since we also love nature in general, we may mention things like bird-watching, butterflies and other things of interest we see and hear in our daily life. We just can't wait to hear from you and  get to know you and your pets.

Bob Tarte: That's great. You had... you brought up something this morning I thought was really interesting, and that was... What did you say you'd like to hear people, about a phrase they commonly say?

Linda Tarte: What would be a phrase that you, if you had... I can't remember how it went. Let's see.

Bob Tarte: I think it was: “What phrase...”

Linda Tarte: If you have to pick a phrase most repeated to your pet, what would it be?

Bob Tarte: Mm-hmm.

Linda Tarte: Now that should get some interesting responses.

Bob Tarte: Mm-hmm. And you had, for example, a phrase that you say to...

Linda Tarte: Like with Dusty: “Don't bite that! Don't do that!”

Bob Tarte: And your phrase for Bella is: “Bella, don't throw your seeds on the floor!”

Linda Tarte: Yeah. Bella, don't do that.

Bob Tarte: Or maybe...

Linda Tarte: So you might have something you've repeated one thousand times, like certain things I have round my house.

Bob Tarte: Howard, stop chasing Sheila!

[Linda laughs]

Bob Tarte: Sheila's our parakeet.

Linda Tarte: Little parakeet, little girl parakeet.

Bob Tarte: At the bottom of the show, I'll give you our email address, so that you can email us, because I have a special email address. So we'll do that, and anything else you want to say on that subject?

Linda Tarte: Yeah, I just love turtles. We don't have a pet turtle, but we'd love to hear from people that have pet turtles... interesting... well, any kind of turtle, but those big kinds that live in the house. I'd love to hear from somebody talking about them and what that is like, having them.

Bob Tarte: And boy, if someone has a Galapagos tortoise in their house...

[Linda laughs]

Bob Tarte: You know, maybe some listener in Ecuador has one.

Linda Tarte: There you go.

Bob Tarte: You don't know, so we'd like to hear about that too. So...

Linda Tarte: Just any kind of unusual pet or even not very unusual pet.

Bob Tarte: Uh-huh, yeah. And what we can do is, you know, if we like your ideas or you have an interesting story, we'll call you up and you can be on the show.

Linda Tarte: Talk about them.

Bob Tarte: Yup. How about that?

Linda Tarte: We'd love that.


Bob Tarte: It's easy to be part of the show. Just email us at That's

 OK, this is the last part of the show now, where we want to talk about a particular animal that we have. We've been doing that already, but kind of with the eye towards recommending people that maybe this is the kind of pet you'd like to have. And I should mention right at the start that you don't have to go to a pet store to get a pet. You should try and find a local animal rehabber in your area if you can, because there are a lot of animals that...

Linda Tarte: Need homes.

Bob Tarte: They need homes, and you know, you don't have to pay money for animals.

Linda Tarte: No.

Bob Tarte: You can, you know, and if we're being sponsored by a pet shop, I should say: “By all means pay money for a pet” but I mean, really...

Linda Tarte: It's nice to help out somebody that has pets that need homes.

Bob Tarte: Yeah. Howard is a Ring-necked Dove, and the Ring-necked Dove is not native to North America, but in fact Peg Markle – we're hopefully going to do a show with her, she's the head of  the Wildlife Rehab Center in Grand Rapids – she has two or three Ring-necked Doves that have just showed up, because they get loose.

Linda Tarte: They get out loose and...

Bob Tarte: Yeah, and so check animal rehabbers in your area, or perhaps a Humane Society or animal shelter. You just never know where you're going to find a nice bird that needs a home.

Linda Tarte: Yeah, that's right.

Bob Tarte: And, I'm always interested that when people think of birds, they think of parakeets, they think of parrots, they think of lovebirds as pets, but you don't really hear much about doves as pets, do you?

Linda Tarte: Not so much, no.

Bob Tarte: No, and...

Linda Tarte: And they make great pets.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, they're absolutely wonderful, one of the... I wanted to talk about why Howard is a such a good pet, Howard our Ring-necked Dove, and...

Linda Tarte: Good-natured.

Bob Tarte: Yup, and that was, as we said before, that was my first anniversary present from Linda. It was Howard, and he wasn't real outgoing at first in terms of us.

Linda Tarte: People just love the looks of him.

Bob Tarte: Yup.

Linda Tarte: When people walk in the house, he's usually the first pet they notice. I don't know why.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, he is, and...

Kinda Tarte: 'Cause he's a pretty bird.

Bob Tarte: And he's been a long-lived and healthy bird. He's had his...

Linda Tarte: Little mishaps.

Bob Tarte: He's had his mishaps and bouts of illness before, but he's tough. I mean...

Linda Tarte: Mm-hmm. They come back, yeah.

Bob Tarte: The problem with pet birds, is that they tend to mask symptoms of an injury or a...

Linda Tarte: Or a respiratory infection or anything like that. You don't know about it for a long time sometimes.

Bob Tarte: Yep. You don't know if they have an injury or an illness.

Linda Tarte: You have to watch symptoms.

Bob Tarte: And a lot of times, before the symptoms are really obvious, it's too late, and I guess that's part of flock behavior.

Linda Tarte: Mm-hmm.

Bob Tarte: Where a bird would not want to stand out from the flock in the wild by showing that it was ill or injured.

Linda Tarte: That's right. 

Bob Tarte: But Howard has been through a lot of life-threatening illnesses and injuries, and he's just doing great. He's about... about 17?

Linda Tarte: Sixteen and a half or seventeen, I don't know how old he was exactly when we got him, but probably only a few months old.

Bob Tarte: And he looks a lot like a Mourning Dove, I guess you would say.

Linda Torte: I know.

Bob Tarte: Sort of a buffy color, and he has...

Linda Tarte: Pale beige, with a black ring round his neck.

Bob Tarte: Yep, it's almost like...

Linda Tarte: He's larger than a Mourning Dove.

Bob Tarte: It's almost like he's wearing a black horseshoe round the back of his neck. The ring doesn't go all the way around.

Linda Tarte: Pretty good-sized bird.

Bob Tarte: Now, what's great about a dove like Howard is that they have a very good disposition. He's certainly not what you would call a shy bird.

Linda Tarte: No.

Bob Tarte: But he's not at all aggressive with people. You're not...

Linda Tarte: No.

Bob Tarte: You're not going to get bit by a dove.

Linda Tarte: No. Uh-uh.

Bob Tarte: You might get really bit by a parakeet. It's amazing. Parakeets can nail you good...

Linda Tarte: Mm-hmm. 

Bab Tarte: ... And they hang on. But Howard...

Linda Tarte: Howard's never...

Bob Tarte: Well, we get pecked a little bit now and again in a friendly sort of way.

Linda Tarte: Well, in a nice way. 

Bob Tarte: Yeah, Howard...

Linda Tarte: He'll sit on your head or come on your shoulder once in a while. If he likes somebody he'll sit on their head or their shoulder.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, sometimes, when he's in a good mood, he'll land on my shoulder and kind of give me little affectionate pecks to my neck.

Linda Tarte: To your cheek or neck.

Bob Tarte: Yep, and if I have a little piece of bread I can hold it to him and, you know, he will eat that.  Now...

Linda Tarte: He likes corn at dinner time.

Bob Tarte: Yep.

Linda Tarte: Put it down on the counter and...

Bob Tarte: Yes, we let our birds fly around during the day.

Linda Tarte: He likes the parrots' food for a treat.

Bob Tarte: For a short period of time we let them out. Yes, he does like the parrots' food.

Linda Tarte: Particularly throwing it all over the counter.

Bob Tarte: Yeah.

Linda Tarte: It's one of his favorite things.

Bob Tarte: Yeah. He's... I had to laugh because I had a book on pet birds, and it described Ring-necked Doves as being very gentle with other birds.

[Linda laughs]

Bob Tarte: Yeah. Why don't you talk about what Howard's favorite pastime is when the parakeets are out?

Linda Tarte: Chasing them.

Bob Tarte: Chasing them.

Linda Tarte: And we used to have a little blue parakeet named Reggie, and that was his favorite pal was Reggie. And they would chase each other all over the dining room when they were out, just loved that. They would sit up on the lamp, the overhead lamp, together, just chattering with each other, or on top of the refrigerator in the basket where I kept the clothes pins, chattering to each other, their little daily conversations. Very friendly, and they just loved each other as friends. And then, when we lost Reggie, we got another blue parakeet, and he's best friends with that parakeet. They do the same thing. They chase each other all over and they have these little manly chats, and...

Bob Tarte: Yeah, if you go to my website, that's b-o-b-t-a-r-t-e dot com, click on videos, and you will find a video of Howard and Herbie, and it's very short and I think you'll enjoy watching it. And so, they're fairly amiable birds, and he does really like the parakeets.

Linda Tarte: Oh yes, he does.

Bob Tarte: And we had another Ring-necked Dove for a while, and they got to be quite good friends. And I should say that, one of my favorite things is just how silly he is. He is very fun to watch, because he is so silly.

Linda Tarte: Mm-hmm, he definitely is.

Bob Tarte: He likes to, when he gets out of his cage, he flies across the room and the first thing he does...

Linda Tarte: Hooting.

Bob Tarte:  ... and he lands on the chair and he makes sort of a laughing sound.

Linda Tarte: Mm-hmm. Flapping his wings, doing this little hoot.

Bob Tarte: Now, that's always sort of his crowning moment of the day, when he can land on the chair and do his little laugh.

Linda Tarte: Mm-hmm.

Bob Tarte: Well, Linda's African....

Linda Tarte: The other birds love him, too. If he's in his cage, other birds are out, they come and light on his cage, so he's like the Community Center.

Bob Tarte: Right.

Linda Tarte: I don't know why. They just like him.

Bob Tarte: But I want to say about your parrot Dusty, that Dusty, African Grey Parrot, is quite mischievous, I should say. I don't know, how do you say that – mischievous, mischiev-i-ous?

Linda Tarte: Aggressive is my word.

[Bob laughs]

Bob Tarte: But, when Howard comes out of his cage and flies to the chair, just before he lands and is able to do his little laugh, Dusty does it instead.

[Linda laughs]

Bob Tarte: Completely throws Howard off and...

Linda Tarte: [laughingly] Well, it's like he's mocking him.

Bob Tarte: Of course he's mocking him. We'll talk about Dusty in another show. He's quite a character. And so I guess those are some of the reasons why we think Howard, you know, doves are good pets. They are just fun to have around; they are not a lot of trouble. Howard stays in his cage most of the day. He gets out in the afternoon for a couple of hours. We have a very safe and secure room for him to fly around in. He interacts with the other birds, and then he goes back in the cage. He'll either fly back in the cage on his own, most of the time or,  unlike parakeets and canaries and a lot of other birds, he's very easy to catch.

Linda Tarte: Yes.

Bob Tarte: We can just walk up to him and cup our hands around him and put him back.

Linda Tarte: He doesn't resent it too much either.

Bob Tarte: No.

Linda Tarte: He loves the seed in other birds' cages better than his own.

Bob Tarte: Oh, yeah.

Linda Tarte: It's one of his favorite things, going into the parakeets' cage and throwing their food all over.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, he got into trouble once when we had our parrot Stanley Sue.

Linda Tarte: Mm-hmm.

Bob Tarte: This was before we really knew enough to have the birds have separate out-of-cage times, and Howard went into Stanley Sue's cage...

Linda Tarte: To eat her food.

Bob Tarte: To eat her food. Stanley took exception to it.

Linda Tarte: Very possessive of her cage.

Bob Tarte: And she carved him up pretty nastily.

Linda Tarte: Yeah, about the size of a  half dollar.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, a big injury on his back. We had to go to the vet and...

Linda Tarte: And have one of those Elizabethan collars put on for two weeks until the feathers grew back.

Bob Tarte: Yeah, you've never seen something silly until you've seen a dove wearing an Elizabethan collar.

Linda Tarte: Mm-hmm.

Bob Tarte: We felt sorry for him in his cage all the time, so we let him out once with that collar on, and he tried to fly. And I don't know how it happened, just the weird aerodynamics, but he actually flew backwards.

[Linda laughs]

Bob Tarte: That's something you've never seen. So, that's pretty much it about Howard, and it's also pretty much it for this episode of our show.

Linda Tarte: What about that one time he had a crop infection and we were so worried that he'd never start eating again, like he didn't get into Ollie's cage eating his food. And we always, we really disliked him bothering Ollie's food all the time, but I'll tell you, we were so happy when, after a couple or three days, he bolted over there and started eating Ollie's food again. We knew he was on the mend and that everything was OK again. He'd had to make a late trip to the vet to get, oh, many things done to get him better from that crop infection, but he fully recovered and we were just thrilled to see him back to his old mischievous habit of getting into Ollie's food.

Bob Tarte; That's right, that's right. He's a wonderful bird.

Linda Tarte: He is wonderful.

Bob Tarte: And I would recommend a dove as a pet to anyone, because it's a very easy bird.

Linda Tarte: Mm-hmm.

Bob Tarte: And not too demanding.

Linda Tarte: Very amiable.

Bob Tarte: OK, so that's about it. We're about out of time for this week's episode of “What Were You Thinking?” We'd like to thank Pet Life Radio and our producers. I'm your host, Bob Tarte.

Linda Tarte: And me Linda.

Bob Tarte: And Linda.

Linda Tarte: Glad to meet you.

Bob Tarte: And for information on my books “Enslaved By Ducks” and “Fowl Weather”, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, including pages and pages of pet photographs and some very silly videos, visit So, we'll see you next week.

Linda Tarte: Bye!

Bob Tarte: Bye, bye!

Bob Tarte: It's easy to be part of the show, just email us at, that's

Male Announcer: Thinking about buying a monkey? How about a ferret or a skunk? Then check out the show that will answer the burning questions. Where do you get them? What do you feed them? How do you take care of them? And most of all... what were you thinking? With exotic pet author and expert, Bob Tarte, every week on demand, from


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