Benny's back at home again
There is a very good reason this woman is looking so happy.
Last Monday started like a normal enough day for 91-year-old Patricia Thomas of Stoke but it all went to custard when she failed to notice the back door of her flat was open.
Her pet of the last 10 years, a stunning green parrot by the name of Benny, was sitting on her shoulder at the time. Before Patricia knew it, Benny had spotted the open door and flown out.
"My heart was in my boots, really.
He was so swift. He just went," she said.
"I've always been very careful but it just happened."
Patricia, who inherited the 18-year-old Australian barabran parrot from her late sister-in-law, rushed outside calling Benny's name but he was gone.
Heartbroken but not prepared to throw in the towel, Patricia made notices alerting people to Benny's disappearance and put them up at Stoke's two supermarkets.
She also called a couple of vets and the SPCA along with family and friends.
"I also walked down to Broadgreen the next day calling him, hoping he'd be in the trees but nothing happened," she said.
By last Thursday afternoon, there had been no reported sightings of Benny. Patricia was sitting at home wondering what had become of her friend when the phone rang.
It was the SPCA calling to tell her a man had just dropped off a tired-looking parrot fitting Benny's description. The man had been driving on the Cliffs when the bird, in an apparently confused state, walked across the road right in front of his oncoming ute. The driver, who nearly hit the bird, had pulled over, picked it up and driven it to the SPCA in Bishopdale.
Not wanting to get ahead of herself, Patricia told Nelson SPCA manager Donna Walzl that Benny loved to play with pieces of paper and asked her to give the bird some to see what he would do.
"He instantly picked it up and tossed it," Donna said.
Convinced it really was Benny, Patricia grabbed his cage, jumped into her car and headed to the SPCA for a reunion that she described as "a miracle".
She said the weather had been terrible and Benny would have been cold, wet and hungry when he was found.
"I wish he could tell me where he has been. I think he's happy to be back. He's settled in really well. A few hours later he was back to his old self."
Another thing Patricia would like to know is the name of the man who found Benny and delivered him to the SPCA. He didn't leave his details and she would dearly like to thank him for what he did. She can be contacted on 03 547 9585.
Patricia said she is delighted to once again have Benny living with her.
"He's really good company. Although he's a bird, he is there. It was a funny feeling without him really," she said.