While most families opt for a household dog or cat, senior Gabriella Hassid grew up surrounded by a rather untraditional friend. Since she was 5 years-old, Hassid’s mother would bring home love birds every few months as temporary pets. Her beaked companions would come and go until Hassid took in her first long term bird, Coco.
“I remember my dad coming home one night with two birds,” Hassid said. “One yellow and one white cockatiel. When I saw the white cockatiel I knew she would be mine, and named her Coco.”
Hassid has always gravitated toward interacting with birds throughout her adolescent life, instead of doing typical childhood activities.
“I have always admired birds. As a little girl, when I would spend time at the park or the beach, I always preferred to play with the pigeons instead of playing on the swingset, or feed the seagulls instead of making sandcastles,” Hassid said.
Hassid has had Coco for over 13 years and considers her best friend to this day.
“I spend so much time with Coco. For example, we watch TV together, eat snacks together, drink tea together. And, when she was younger and more mobile, we would go out together too,” Hassid said. “I even shower with my bird, which a lot of people find unusual.”
Although Hassid loves caring for her bird, she finds that there aren’t many resources to do so in the city.
“The most difficult part of taking care of birds is that there are very few avianary specialists in Los Angeles. That means if the bird gets sick or injured, it’s not as easy to take her to a vet as it would be if my pet were a dog or cat,” Hassid said.
Hassid’s mother is grateful that she brought birds into her daughters life and believes taking care of an animal has made her a loving person.
“I have raised all of my children with some sort of animal in their life and having Coco has changed Gabriella especially. She has learned the importance of giving a living thing love and attention. Before, she was a bit selfish, but now she is a loving teenegaer who puts others before herself,” Ladan Hassid said.
Having Coco has taught Hassid the responsibility of taking care of another living being. She believes taking care of a cockatiel requires more work than people assume. As Hassid grows older, she hopes to adopt more birds.
“I am so obsessed with ducks,” Hassid. “I hope when I’m old enough to live on my own that I will be able to adopt ducklings and raise them until their fully-grown ducks.”