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Couple commemorates life and times of beloved family pet

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
FAITH ó They remembered Bolaine with both smiles and tears Sunday afternoon. In a simple but sweet ceremony, they recalled his pining for popcorn, his fondness for his Saturday night shower and his ability to draw a smile from just about anyone.
“He was very, very special,” said Don Kluttz, one of several who shared stories about Bolaine. “He’ll be missed.”
A couple of women listened, then pulled tissues from their pocketbooks and dabbed their eyes.
Before we proceed, we need to point out that Bolaine was a 10-year-old peach-faced lovebird, cute as a button. The creature was the beloved pet of Don and Wanda Kluttz.
Bolaine died May 16 and the Kluttzes held a memorial service for him Sunday in the double garage at their house on Rainey Road outside Faith. About 25 people attended, primarily friends of the Kluttzes and those who’d played roles in the bird’s upbringing.
“You’re special to be here,” Wanda told the attendees. “We didn’t invite just anybody.”
A few jokes were shared, that’s true, but the affair had an air of reverence to it.
Candles were lit, scriptures were read and hymns were sung. Prayers were spoken.
Don read from the Song of Solomon that included the line, “The time of singing of birds has come.”
“Animals were special to God,” Don said. “He created animals for man to enjoy as we have enjoyed Bolaine.”
A program distributed to guests included Bolaine’s lineage. “He was born to Pete and Patty, and human parents Bobby and Elaine Gilland. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Little Bit. He is survived by his cousins, Lizzie Cornelius and Nibbles Kluttz.”
Details of his upbringing were also included: “He was educated at the Kluttz home where he was loved and disciplined. He enjoyed eating popcorn, having his head rubbed and trips to the beach.”
Bolaine’s ashes were contained in an urn at the front of the sanctuary … er … garage. Also displayed was Bolaine’s “baby book.”
Don’t laugh, it was all fairly moving.
“I’ve had people say, ‘He was just a bird,’ ” Wanda said. “That ticked me off.”
Bolaine, she said, was much more.
“We had lots of fun,” Wanda said of the time that she and her husband shared with Bolaine. “He brought us so many memories. We’ll always have the memories to cherish.”
The bird’s name came from a combination of the monikers of Bobby and Elaine Gilland, the couple who gave Bolaine to the Kluttzes.
Wanda recalled the first time she laid eyes on the bird.
“He was the size of a bumblebee,” she said. “He was so ugly.”
But Bolaine grew, became more colorful and playful, all the while working his way into the Kluttzes’ hearts and lives.
“I never thought I’d become attached to a bird,” Don admitted. “But I did.”
Don, 60, is an auditor for the state of North Carolina. Wanda, 56, is a certified funeral planner, which explains in part the professionalism of Sunday’s service.
Don said Bolaine enjoyed riding on his index finger. The bird drank from his cereal bowl at breakfast, and feasted on okra and cabbage.
His wings were clipped so his flights were limited. Bolaine got around the house primarily by hopping on his feet … oops, claws.
When the Kluttzes traveled to their vacation home at Myrtle Beach, Bolaine went with them. When Daylight Saving Time took effect and their trips were made after sunset, Bolaine fussed because he didn’t like riding in the dark.
The Kluttzes accommodated him by turning on an interior light for the trip’s duration.
At Myrtle Beach, Bolaine enjoyed sitting on a screened porch and communicating with the seagulls and other wild birds.
“He’d sing with his friends at the beach,” Wanda said. “I’d love to know what they were saying to each other.”
For all Bolaine’s goodness, the bird had a temper.
“You didn’t point your finger at him if you were a stranger,” Don said, laughing as he spoke. “He’d take a chunk out of you.”
He said when he and Wanda sat side-by-side watching TV, he’d occasionally lean over and give his wife a peck on the cheek. That, Don said, infuriated Bolaine.
The bird, he said, would quickly climb his arm and sit on his shoulder between he and Wanda, determined to make sure that any future smooching included him.
Wanda said that a few years ago, she and Don took a two-week trip to Australia. It was one of the few times they left Bolaine with friends.
Wanda said that when they returned, Bolaine was mad at them for leaving him, going so far as to pluck feathers from his belly.
Wanda said she was upset by Bolaine’s appearance and took him to the vet. The vet inspected the bird, couldn’t find any reason for his actions and asked Wanda if she and her husband had left Bolaine with others recently.
Wanda allowed they had.
“You’ve got a spoiled, rotten bird here,” she said, laughing as she recalled the vet’s words.
The Kluttzes had just returned from a trip to the beach the night of May 16 when Don took Bolaine to the bathroom for the bird’s weekly shower. He said he’d washed the bird’s back and rolled him over to give his chest a good scrub.
That’s when Bolaine died. The Kluttzes said their vet told them the bird probably had a heart attack. They said the life expectancy of a lovebird is 10 to 15 years, so Bolaine’s passing shouldn’t have been totally unexpected.
That didn’t make it any easier for them to accept.
“Maybe one day we can see him again as he sits on our shoulders and speaks to us in his little special language,” Don said.
In a prayer that concluded Sunday’s service, Don continued.
“He will truly be missed,” he said. “He’s now with you. He’s talking to the other birds. He’s telling them, ‘You don’t know what it’s like to have your head rubbed.’ ”

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