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The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog [Kindle Edition]

Nancy Ellis-Bell
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $4.01 (29%)
Sold by: Random House LLC


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Book Description

The last thing Nancy Ellis-Bell expected to descend on her life was a neglected, too-tall, smart-mouthed, one-legged, blue-and-gold rescue macaw named Peg Leg. And yet, it made perfect sense. A lifelong animal lover, Nancy could never turn away a stray cat, dog, squirrel, or raccoon from her California farm. But the macaw, quickly rechristened Sarah, was a whole new challenge, as Nancy, her husband, Kerry, and their furry menagerie would find out.

Initially timid of her new surroundings, Sarah soon imposed her four-foot wingspan into the family homestead—first claiming the laundry basket, then conquering a prized dresser—and achieved complete household domination. Nancy couldn’t “bird-proof” the place fast enough, and it was not long before Sarah started stealing the dogs’ toys—using her enormous beak to disembowel Ben the mutt’s treasured stuffed bear—and bathing her richly hued feathers in their water bowl. She also peppered Nancy’s phone conversations with expletive-laden outbursts. There seemed no end to Sarah’s realm, nor her destruction, and it dawned on Nancy that the entire house had slowly transformed into a birdcage.

On the other side of the coin, Sarah started to abandon her own raptor instincts when she discovered that dog food was pretty tasty and that she had a knack for “barking” (and a few other sounds that alarmed the neighbors). As they all learned to live together, Nancy marveled that Sarah had truly found a place to call home, but she sensed that there was something she could give Sarah to make her feel more complete: a chance to fly again.

Touching, eye-opening, and laugh-out-loud funny, The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog is a tender tale of two worlds colliding, two lives enriched, and two souls restored. It is also a rewarding reminder that love can come from the most unexpected places.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite an intriguing premise, Ellis-Bell's memoir of adopting an obstinate parrot fails to capture the spirit of either the bird or her owner. A literary agent living in rural California with her husband, Ellis-Bell already had a menagerie that included dogs, cats and even a family of raccoons living under the deck. But her life changed when she brought home a one-footed blue and gold wild-caught macaw named Peg Leg. Rechristening her Sarah, Ellis-Bell soon realized that despite her love of animals, she had no idea how to care for such an ornery creature. Sarah soon had the run of the house, climbing furniture and stealing the dogs' toys and bones. Even though Sarah refused to be touched, she and Ellis-Bell soon bonded and Sarah would follow the author from room to room like a puppy. The decision of whether or not to allow Sarah to fly free outdoors was an agonizing one for Ellis-Bell, and its consequences were monumental. Prone to repetition, Ellis-Bell moves through Sarah's life in strict linear fashion that too soon feels episodic. That said, Sarah is a delightfully mischievous creature the reader grows to love as Ellis-Bell did. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Peg-Leg entered Ellis-Bell’s life after the author was captivated by her eyes at a “parrot weekend,” a get-together for potential and current parrot owners. The blue-and-gold macaw lost a foot during her capture from the wild, was abused by her previous owner, and became vicious as a result. Renamed Sarah, she now lives with a person who loves her and is eager to make a better life for a poor battered bird. When first released from her cage, Sarah climbs down and rousts the family dogs from their dishes, absconding with an entire rib bone. Laundry time becomes playtime as the macaw digs through the freshly dried laundry, showing a particular fondness for lingerie. After two months of exploring the house on foot, Sarah starts flying, and strafing the dogs becomes her new joy. Upon seeing her interact with the resident ravens through the window, the author decides to let her go outside, and gardening with Sarah becomes a paradise for both human and bird. Life with a macaw is always an adventure, since they are easily bored and have the maturity level of a perpetual three-year-old. Ellis-Bell captures this ongoing sense of discovery perfectly. --Nancy Bent

Product Details

  • File Size: 275 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307406288
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001CJRD7G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #857,048 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
121 of 125 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly horrific read August 9, 2008
By Steve S
I am the companion of a 12-year-old blue & gold macaw who came to live with us when she was five months old. Reading this book as my macaw's "siginificant other," I was at first appalled, then horrified and finally infuriated by the book and its author. Where to begin? Let's start with Nancy Ellis-Bell's foolish decision to allow this one-legged "rescue bird" to have free flight in the chilly "rain forests" of far Northern California, which ultimately led to its death. This outcome was almost inevitable from the day the author let "Sarah" fly out of her house to the day Sarah died from exposure to cold, rainy weather with temperatures verging on freezing because she was unable to make her way back to safety from the 80-foot heights of a fir/conifer canopy surrounding Ms. Ellis-Bell's home. The author's decision to let this native of the tropical rain forests of South America "be a bird" in the hostile, late-winter climate of Northern California's coastal range bordered on criminal negligence, in my opinion. Our macaw has always been clipped, and I would never consider giving her flight. There is simply too much risk involved: She could easily get lost or, more likely, one of the many red-shouldered hawks that live around here would quickly pick her off.

Ms. Ellis-Bell justified her decision on the falacious assertion that macaws who can't exercise their wings by flying succumb to "wasting macaw disease," which she describes as a buildup of the "enzyme that in the wild allows [macaws] to beat their wings and stay airborne ... to deadly levels in a caged bird, literally emulsifying its muscles." In all my years of macaw companionship, I'd never read about this threat or heard any vet talk about it, especially not as a hazard of not allowing a macaw to fly. So I looked it up on the Internet.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Author Who Thought She Could Write August 22, 2008
Ms. Ellis-Bell's callous and ignoble treatment of the macaw known as Sarah, in what was published under a clever marketing title by Harmony Books under the auspices of Crown Publishing, is nothing more than 244 pages of self-justification for the death of the macaw by a woman who had no business, absolutely none, adopting the bird in the first place.

Interested in Sarah, I was as I read on, instead supposed to care about Ms. Ellis-Bell's garden, her ponds, her climbing roses, her husband, her marriage, and her cramped trailer.

She allowed Sarah to die, the animal who trusted her, to die. Then turns around and tries to make a buck off of writing her story, glorifying herself as a lover of animals. Please!

On the back cover, Ms. Ellis-Bell claims to be a "respected literary agent, a former professor, and an author." She can claim to be whatever she wants but that don't make her compassionate, a good writer; or anything other than cruel, ignorant and opportunistic.

bg burke
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Upsetting book July 30, 2008
First, I must state that I own an African Grey parrot who is the light of my life, and I protect her life everyday by giving her the best care possible. I was very excited to get this book, but after reading it, I have been upset to the point of writing this review. The macaw named Sarah was "rescued" by a novice parrot person. The bird was deemed untouchable, and no attempt was made to rehabilitate her in this regard, but she was still given free reign of the house and was never caged after the first few weeks. She was allowed to "be a bird" within the home even though every attempt was made to bird proof the house and keep her safe. But then, because the "rescuer" felt bad that this wild caught bird had been caged, Sarah was allowed to free fly outside which was in a forest. Eventually, Sarah took to the trees, where she perished after a week in the driving rain because she would not come when called. She was found dead on the ground outside her home, where she had eventually tried to return. The writer describes watching Sarah, high in the trees, sinking in demeanor day by day, until she lost track of her. I feel terrible that this beautiful bird was caught, injured in the process, and then sent to the U.S. to be kept as a pet. But I feel much worse that she ended up with a person who was so emotional about this fact, that she tried to re-introduce the bird to an outside environment completely foreign to the bird after years of being in a cage. This poor bird was doomed, and I cannot stop thinking about her. She starved to death up in those trees, and the weather probably caused her to be miserable and sick before she finally died trying to go home. Read more ›
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By bortly
The image that comes to my mind when I think about the woman who wrote this book is a manic woman living in a run-down trailer on a garbage strewn lot surrounded by more animals than she can care for. And certainly more animals than she can care for properly. Perhaps she is an animal hoarder, that is someone who believes that it is her mission to save or rescue animals and who believes that whatever treatment she provides is better than anything that anyone else could do.

But she did a terrible job taking care of this bird and let it try to fend for itself in the chilly forests of Northern California. (SPOILER: the bird starved to death or died from exposure.) This macaw and the conure and something like 39 cats lost their lives as a result of her irresponsibility. She fed the birds inappropriate foods and gave the bird gin-and-tonics! She let the birds torment the dogs, she accumulated stray cats and then wrote off their lives. One wonders what sort of veterinary care any of these animals received. She repeatedly disregarded the advice of bona-fide bird rescuers. She gave the bird gin-and-tonics! (I had to repeat that. I just cannot believe that someone would do this.) All the while the phone is ringing, the birds are squawking, the dogs are cowering, the cats are being eaten by mountain lions, food and poop cover the floor of the trailer, old machinery rusts in the "garden", her husband has moved into his office....

She imagined what these animals think, in fact the very title of the book demonstrates her tendency to anthropomorphosize. It's unlikely that the parrot thought she was a dog.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wife loved this story
Wife loves this book and story. She read it all the way through and told me it is very good!
Published 5 months ago by Daniel C. Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it !
Never read anything by this author before.I enjoyed the bird care isses in the book.Did not expect that.It did make me cry.Have since loaned the book to two friends. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Angelika Miner
4.0 out of 5 stars good read for parrot lovers
this is a good book for any animal lover really but esp for people who have had a bird. good story of a lady and her macaw, a bit of a sad ending but provides knowledge for people... Read more
Published 14 months ago by SamanthaJo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Animal Book
This book was really informative and amusing. I really enjoyed reading it. Some of it may have been exaggerated, but it was worth the read.
Published 18 months ago by Susan D. Phipps
1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I had read the reviews...
Disclaimer: I'm biased. I live with a flock of seven parrots, most of whom were adopted through a local bird club and have required a lot of rehabilitation to deal with their past... Read more
Published 18 months ago by J.J.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Parrot Who Thought She Was a Dog
Thoroughly enjoyable. A very touching read, especially when her body was finally found as I cried thinking about losing my beloved Jack Terrier.
Published 18 months ago by Norlene M. Razak
1.0 out of 5 stars Trash from Begining to Horrifying End
NO stars would be a more accurate rating, but hopefully my review will clarify. This is one of the worst books I have ever read by a supposed animal lover who watches her macaw die... Read more
Published on July 8, 2012 by Marlene Barnes
1.0 out of 5 stars Parade of Idiocy
Compounding her mistake by butchering 20 trees in an attempt to recapture her parrot? Not only was this a demonstration of reckless disregard for nature, but shows an inability to... Read more
Published on October 16, 2011 by Jason Hintz
1.0 out of 5 stars Will not purchase this book.
I would have purchased this book had it not been for the reviews of other animal and parrot lovers who fortunately steered me away from it. Read more
Published on October 20, 2010 by Layla
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful, awful book
An incompetently written book -- full of clichés, repetition and grammatical errors -- recounting the author's arrogant and idiotic mistreatment of a macaw, whom she allowed... Read more
Published on September 30, 2010 by JG
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Topic From this Discussion
Thank you parrot owners
I agree, thanks for warning me about this book
Mar 3, 2009 by Beth |  See all 4 posts
Positive books about macaw and human? Be the first to reply
I wonder if Sarah refused to come down Be the first to reply
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