Windsor Pet Budgie,
Lands A Spot On A National Calendar
Story by Matthew St. Amand
Photography by Parveen Razvi
Lemon, the Windsor pet budgie, soared above the competition. At the beginning of June this year, Pet Valu put out a call to pet owners across the country for submissions for its annual fundraising calendar which benefits the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. This year, they received more than 60,000 entries through their Facebook page, ranging from horses to gerbils and fish and countless dogs and cats. Over the course of two intense weeks, that number was whittled down to a Top 100. From that elite group of Canadian pets, the winners were chosen.
Lemon was among the 17 pets who made the cut.
Her winning photo showed her balancing on top of a Jack-o-Lantern. “That’s one of her favorite toys,” says Lemon’s “sister”, Parveen Razvi.
Aside from her natural beauty and striking poise—which makes her unusually photogenic—Lemon counts among her talents the ability to recite several phrases and mimic various sounds. To please traditionalists, she can say “please” and “pretty bird”, as well as imitating the sounds of kisses and zippers. For the benefit of technocrats, her repertoire includes saying “Hey Siri!” and mimicking the sounds of typing, the click of taking screenshots as well as text tones.
“She is a modern bird!” says one observer.
A photograph of Lemon and her Jack-o-Lantern will grace the October 2021 calendar page.
The annual calendar, which contains photos of 17 adorable Canadian pets (a couple of months will feature photos of two pets as well as the cover image), including dogs, cats, a hamster, a hedgehog and Lemon, is available for a “give-what-you-can” donation at all Pet Valu stores across Canada. All proceeds go to support the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. Last year, more than $100,000 was raised. The calendars have been available for purchase in all Pet Valu stores beginning November 1st.
“We wanted the calendar to represent a good diversity of pets,” explains Alison Preiss, Senior Marketing Manager with Pet Valu.
Parveen—a newly graduated registered nurse—is a regular customer of Pet Valu and follows them on Facebook. “One day, there was a post about the calendar contest,” Parveen recalls, “so, on the spur-of-the-moment, I took a picture of Lemon and submitted it.”
She explains that Lemon and budgies in general, are particularly good company.
“They are very sociable,” she says. “Lemon is very special to us and has a giant cage, which we refer to as her ‘house’. Whenever my mom goes out, she’ll say, ‘Mama has to go’, and Lemon will fly into the cage. Otherwise, we leave the door open and she’s free to fly anywhere in the whole house.”
Apparently, it is unusual for female budgies to speak. It’s clear that Lemon is especially gregarious—she could be heard in the background during our phone interview. Parveen laughs when I note this. “Whenever I’m on the phone, she wants to be a part of the conversation!”
Photography is a pastime that Parveen enjoys, so it worked out well that Lemon is such a photogenic pet.
“In fact, she has her own Instagram page,” Parveen says.
She goes on to say that Lemon was particularly good company while she, Parveen, attended her classes in nursing school.
“Personally, Lemon has been a big support,” Parveen continues. “She was always there to relieve any stress. Her vibrant yellow colour and talkativeness always kept me in a good mood. I would study with her and tell her about the material, so I could learn.”
The call from the photo contest, saying Lemon would be included in the calendar, came in July.
“I was super excited and especially because this calendar’s proceeds go to the Lions Foundation of Canada, to help train dogs for people with disabilities. As a registered nurse, that’s something I’m very proud Lemon could be a part of.”
And there is certainly more to Lemon than her pretty face.
When someone says her name, Lemon responds with a unique, melodious chirp.
Lemon knows how to use the word “please” in context. For instance, if she wants to come out of her house, she will say “please”. Also, on those occasions when she is being given too many kisses, she will politely say “please”, indicating that she has had enough. Even budgies have their limits.
Lemon’s nighttime routine involves going to sleep at 10 pm, sharp. If Parveen is tardy, Lemon calls with a chirp or rings the bell in her house. Lemon will then jump onto her swing, inside her house, where she sleeps.
Lemon maintains her trim figure by eating spinach. She is also a proactive budgie who enjoys staying busy.
“She is always looking for new ways to play,” Parveen explains, “so we are always setting up new play areas in the house and trying to create adventures for her.”
Lemon is not all hustle and bustle. Among her more meditative pursuits, she enjoys quietly looking out the window and observing the broader world. There is no sense that she desires a life beyond the pane, but simply seeks to understand her place in the grand scheme of things. When she sees other birds, outside, she gives kisses.
Lemon also enjoys sitting on the shoulders of Parveen and her family.
Has the notoriety of winning a place in the charity calendar gone to Lemon’s head? Or has she managed to remain the same old budgie?
“I did show her the calendar,” Parveen says. “She looked at it and had a little reaction. She definitely knows that she’s out there!”
For people interested in bringing a budgie into their home, Parveen says that it would be wise to remember that birds—like so many other animals—are much smarter than we give them credit.
“Budgies are sometimes regarded as a showpiece in people’s homes,” Parveen says, “but they are very intelligent and deserve the best care. You have to be there for them, interact with them, be social with them. As far as I’m concerned, Lemon has a personality that is like a full human being. She has thoughts and feelings.”
To learn more about the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guide, visit them online at www.dogguides.com. For more information about owning a budgie, the “Pets Get Started” blog is helpful: www.petsgetstarted.com/where-and-how-to-buy-a-budgie/.
Lemon’s Instagram page can be viewed at @Lemon.budgie on Instagram.