Calgary senior shares unexpected love story involving parakeet on Valentine’s Day

Click to play video: '‘Want kisses?’: Calgary senior shares unexpected love story on Valentine’s Day' ‘Want kisses?’: Calgary senior shares unexpected love story on Valentine’s Day
WATCH ABOVE: Companionship has been hard to come by for many throughout the pandemic. But this Valentine’s Day, a local senior and her feathered friend are sharing something special at a local dog park. Sarah Offin reports – Feb 14, 2022

If you have ever visited the Silver Springs off-leash park in northwest Calgary, you likely already know Helde Schnider and her unusual companion.

Almost every day, perched over her shoulder, a parakeet joins her on her walks along with her husband and dog.

The Schniders have been married for 59 years, but the walks — and pets — are new to their routine.

Read more: Why Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples

The bird, Ollie, arrived in their home several years ago, adopted from a friend who could no longer care for him.

“He’s really awesome company because he does talk. So that makes it nice,” Helde said. “You don’t feel lonely or anything. You know he’s there.”

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Then, two years ago, the Schniders’ daughter was diagnosed with terminal cancer, leaving them with her dog Wolfy.

“We never had a dog before. And I took him in already because she couldn’t look after him,” Helde said. “So when she passed away, we got Wolfy.”

Helde’s husband Oskar takes Wolfy for a walk everyday. Helde and Ollie join as long as the weather is warm enough for feathered friends.

“It’s mostly her bird. I don’t think he likes me too much,” Oskar said. “But those two get along quite well. And I’m just in the background mostly.”

Read more: After life and death fight, rescued parrot lands loving home

Helde just celebrated her 80th birthday. That means 12-year-old Ollie will likely outlive her. Parakeets can live up to about 50 years.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be around that long for him. So we’ll see. “

In the meantime, the walks are giving the couple exercise and the colourful passenger on Helde’s shoulder is drawing attention, pictures and smiles from those they meet.

“So many people say, ‘It made my day,'” Helde said, adding Ollie offers kisses to almost everyone he meets.


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