I recently read a book review which fascinated me. It was about a book titled, Alex and Me-How a Scientist and a Parrot Uncovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene Pepperberg. When Alex the African Gray parrot died in 2007 the world mourned. The New York Times and other newspapers ran articles reviewing his achievements. Alex could count to six, identify colors, understand concepts such as bigger and smaller and had a vocabulary of 150 words. To his supporters he was proof that the phrase 'birdbrain' should be expunged from the dictionary. His owner and colleague wrote in her book, Alex and Me, the parrot she bought in a Chicago pet store in 1977 would help open a new window on the capacity of birds and other animals to think and communicate. Dr. Pepperberg, a scientist, proved that Alex did have cognitive ability and could distinguish colors, shapes, sizes and that he understood concepts like 'bigger, 'same,' 'different,' and 'none.' When he gave a wrong answer or knocked over a cup of coffee, he'd say, "I'm sorry." Alex was also very emphatic. Dr. Pepperberg wrote, he would sense when I was particularly blue, he would sit close with me at those times. It made me think of A.J., who sits with me and keeps me company when I'm reading.
Amazingly, right before Alex the parrot died of a heart attack, his last words to Dr. Pepperberg were, You be good. I love you. It seems even animals appreciate the importance of love and goodness and they need closure, as we do.
People who believe that animals have more intelligence and feelings than we acknowledge are probably right. According to Dr. Pepperberg our pets do love us and if they could speak like Alex, they would tell us so.