…an excerpt from the Introduction to “Love & Feathers”
I see feeeeeeeeet. And a cute cockatiel beeeeeeeeeeeak…….
I wait. One, Mississippi, two, Mississippi, three…….. I can just make out the tip of a diminutive curved grey beak slowly descending from behind the bathroom vanity mirror. Pearl and I are playing “Now You See Me” and Pearl is in charge.
When I first met Pearl, I was still mourning the loss of my first cockatiel, a yellow and white bird named Jacob. Jacob was only three years old when he died of congenital kidney failure. His death is still one of the most painful memories of my life. I did not – I repeat NOT – want another cockatiel after Jacob passed.
But my parents knew how much I love birds, and they staunchly believed that a new avian companion could heal me in a way that even time likely would not. Attempting to broach the subject with me was like suggesting I consider enrolling in advanced math classes or taking up soccer – I simply wouldn’t hear of it. So unbeknownst to me, they took matters into their own hands, donned their trench coats and dark sunglasses, and started sleuthing for cockatiel babies at nearby pet stores.
One day I was at work as usual when I got an urgent call from my mom. She insisted I had to meet them at a nearby PetSmart during my lunch hour that very day. I as vigorously insisted I didn’t want to go. But as moms go, mine can be quite persistent, so at noon on the dot I dutifully pulled into the parking lot. I walked inside and saw both of my folks bending over a large, open-air cage in the center of the store. The cage held at least a dozen exceptionally cute cockatiel babies. The closer I got to the cage, the more reluctant I felt. I wasn’t ready. My mom was too pushy. How could she? She should realize I couldn’t stand to lose another bird, especially so soon after Jacob’s death. As I watched the energetic yellow and white fledglings climbing all over each other to compete for treats and attention, I almost turned on my heel and walked back out the front door.
But then I saw him.
He was huddled in a tiny ball, clearly trying to make himself as invisible as possible. He was a very small grey cockatiel, the obvious runt of the litter, his eyes droopy with fatigue and his downy chest feathers still matted with baby bird formula. He saw me at about the same moment I saw him, and we moved towards each other instinctively.
As I gently lifted him up in my hand – he was so tiny he barely filled my palm – I saw he was missing claws from each foot. The bird department manager softly informed me that this baby’s left wing was badly damaged as well and he would probably never fly. The staff suspected his siblings were to blame. I observed how the older, stronger birds totally ignored him unless he happened to get in their way. If this happened they barreled right over him as if he wasn’t even there.
Different species aside, I knew EXACTLY how he felt – the runt of the litter, the ugly duckling, the one who looked and felt so different, the one who, try as he might, just didn’t fit in.
I looked at him and whispered softly, “You are love with wings, aren’t you?”….
with love (& lots of feathers),
Shannon & Pearl
Not sure yet? Want to read a few more sample chapters?
- Sample Chapter: “Aargh“
- Sample Chapter: “Must Love Birds“
- Sample Chapter: “The Littlest Pterodactyl“
But Wait – What Do Other People Think of the Book?
So far, reader predictions indicate we are looking at a flyaway success! Yahoo!! :-)
Words of Praise from Pearl’s Advance Readers:
I have always loved all animals, but birds have become my heart. And that is why I like your book so much. You touch the bird in me. READ ELLEN’S FULL TESTIMONIAL
-Ellen Cook, DVM
Love and Feathers is a delightful account about love in its most purest and literal form. It is a story about finding your destiny just as you should; suddenly, when you least expect it. Cutts’ relationship with Pearl exemplifies true love. With flawless and comical prose, she allows her readers to see how life can be unequivocally enriched when you can love someone and be loved in return. Pearl and Shannon are two soul mates who share six wondrous things: trust, surrender, sufficiency, peace and endless potential. I adored this book.
–Emi Berger, DVM, recovered bulimic
A refreshingly unique and beautiful love story, “Love & Feathers” is a laugh-out-loud page turner. Even if you aren’t enthusiastic about birds, you will be about this book!
–Jenni Schaefer, Author of Almost Anorexic, Goodbye Ed, Hello Me, and Life Without Ed
*Click HERE to read a special blog post by Jenni featuring Pearl!
Love and Feathers is a joyful journey filled with compassion and wisdom. Shannon shares how a pet, Pearl (who happens to be an avian), can teach us the skills we need to overcome adversity and live our lives to the fullest. Life with Pearl is full of humor, insight and inspiration. A must read for all pet lovers!
–Maisen Mosley (recovered from an eating disorder), parront to Pongo (green cheek conure) and Purdy (Quaker parrot) and three canine “kids”
I started to read your book – I had no idea what to expect…. It’s delightful. I’m not really a bird person, but find myself sucked in. I really like that it’s both this personal conversation and really factual, instructional. It made me think about how a loving pet companion might plug up some of the holes in my life.
–Marcelyn McNeil, artist and cat lover
Love & Feathers took me on a heart-warming journey into the intricacies of avian-human companionship. Shannon’s wit is guaranteed to paint a wide smile across the reader’s face as she leads them deeper into the adventurous landscape of the relationship between parrot and parront. I was especially intrigued with how Pearl’s life was shown to be an example of how we could also enjoy our own life – and at such a simple and basic level. Those who truly treasure their avian family members will surely grin, giggle and even sigh as they relate to the antics of Pearl. Trust me, you will relate. Oh how I eagerly await the reality show!
–Sherri Inskeep Lewis, Past President of the National Cockatiel Society and owner of Tame Tiels Aviary
I have followed the exploits of Pearl for over a year now, watching with well-deserved admiration as he trains his human Shannon in the ways of cockatiel service. It is only fair, then, that Shannon should have her chance to share the human side of parrot servitude. This she does with humor and grace, interweaving facts with experience so well that even the most novice of parrot admirers will understand completely the trials and joys they’re in for. It’s all here, from how to feed a cockatiel to those all-important veterinarian visits, all while projecting a semblance of sanity.
–Marguerite Floyd, author of Cockatiel Lessons and The Parrot Reckonings
Spoiler alert: very near the end of this surprising book, Shannon writes, “If I want to have a relationship with God, I must seek first and only this: a relationship with love.” I cannot possibly find a better way to describe this book. Love & Feathers is certainly the story of the relationship between Shannon and her beloved parrot, Pearl, but it is first — and ultimately all — about love. Buy two copies; you are going to want to give it to someone immediately.
–Thom Rutledge, author of The Power of Self-Forgiveness and Embracing Fear
I ‘flew’ through Love & Feathers – I loved it! Thank you, Shannon and Pearl, for sharing lessons on what really matters in life – love, and living in the moment. For evermore, when I see a parrot, or indeed any bird (or human), I will look beyond the feathers and seek to connect with the love within.
–June Alexander, recovered from an eating disorder, grandmother, mum to two kitties, author of Hope at Every Age – Developing an Appetite for Recovery and A Girl Called Tim
Dear Shannon, not only is Pearl beautiful, but he is great at teaching others lessons in recovery and acceptance!
-Love, Megan (recovering from an eating disorder) & Dermott (parrot)
Love & Feathers is filled with compelling stories about how Shannon’s parrot helps her to see aspects of her life from a different view, which fuels her self-growth. It serves as an incredible reminder that many of life’s most powerful lessons can be found in the simplest of places.
–Amy Morin, LCSW, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do