Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Steppin' Up (Not a Post About a Dance Movie)

PLOT TWIST: I make you wait three months for the last two installments of my Icelandic adventure. But seriously, sorry about that. Motivation hasn't even been in my vocabulary lately.

But! I will tell you about how LOKI IS NOW SOMEWHAT IRREGULARLY STEPPING UP ONTO MY HAND! HALLELUJAH! *angels streaming out of the sky, with their little heaven-trumpets, singing their little angel songs or whatever it is angels do*

It's true. Here's a photo to prove it.

Both of his feet are on my hand. Success.

This was achieved through pure trickery and probably hundreds of sunflower seed bribes over the course of 5 months. Here's a step-by-step (PUNS!) account:

1. Loki loves being on his cage. Loki also loves sunflower seeds. So I figured the first step was getting him off of his cage, which required purchasing a ladder that connects his cage to a table nearby, and then bribing him off of the cage with seeds.

2. I started small by baiting the ladder with seeds. Every day we moved a little bit farther down the ladder, until he was eating seeds off the table. For weeks he wouldn't even step one foot off the ladder, despite me moving seeds farther and farther away. He would just stretch his little chicken neck out until he got all the seeds within reach, and then he'd leave the rest and run back up the ladder to the safety of the cage.

3. One day I put all the seeds completely out of his reach. It took a lot of contemplation and frustrated-dinosaur-noises, but he finally put one foot on the table, and then the other. It was that moment when he discovered that the table was not made out of hot lava.

4. I let him walk around on the table many times before I took the ladder away. The first time I took the ladder away he freaked out. "OMG, OMG, OMG HOW DO I GET BACK TO SAFETY?! DANGER! DANGER!" He shot up the ladder the moment it was reconnected to the cage. We did this a bunch of times until he was relatively comfortable on the table without the ladder.

5. Once we got to this point, I'd offer my hand out instead of putting the ladder back. Honestly, the first time I put my hand out for him to step up, he immediately stepped up and I very smoothly took him directly to his cage and praised the ever loving shit out of him.

I mean, I wasn't really that surprised when he hopped onto my hand, he used to step up for me all the time back in Maryland before I had the birbs moved out here. Something about moving him out here made him really fearful of stepping on hands, or maybe he just LOVES his new cage, or maybe it's for some other reason that I don't understand. He loves head scratches, and long "preening" sessions are a regular part of our schedule now (he "preens" my hands now, and it's so adorable I just can't even) so I know he's not just fearful of hands.

So there's the update. We're working on it, and things are getting better.