Tonawanda News

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May 5, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Teach your pets to love the environment

Earth Day 2013 was a few weeks ago, but every day should be treated as such. 

The United States and 100 other countries have been celebrating the earth and a promise to protect it for a little over 40 years. Reduce, reuse, recycle has been the motto and with the alliteration it is easy to remember. Luckily it is also easy to follow.

Everyone should be recycling. It is easy. Just think of it like throwing away garbage, but in a separate can. Most towns even provide a recycling bin. So there is no excuse, though I do know that I am preaching to the choir, since all Critter Companions readers are environmentally friendly. If, however, you find an acquaintance or friend that isn’t behind recycling there is a solution: Show them. Show them how easy it is; even an animal can do it.

William Arthur Ward, writer of the Pertinent Proverbs column, once said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

Our plan will be to not just tell our friends how to recycle but demonstrate how simple it is by having our pets inspire them.

You will need a receptacle, something to put in the receptacle, treats and a pet. The most motivating item for the humans watching this behavior would be an actual recycling article like a plastic bottle, can or newspaper. The bin could be the real recycling bin you use, your pet’s toy box or a cardboard pizza box — it doesn’t matter.

I trained a green wing macaw to do this behavior in one 24-hour period. Pebbles is a very quick learner and your pet can be too. To start with I showed him a plastic soda bottle. He approached it and took it with his beak. I waited for him to drop it and then gave him a small piece of nut, one of his favorite treats. After this I introduced the bin. I gave him the bottle again and right before he dropped it I placed the bin under the bottle about eighteen inches so that it would catch the bottle. I repeated this step for five sessions. Each time he would drop it I would make sure it would go in the bin and would reward Pebbles with a piece of peanut.

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