Philip Feret came into my life in 2000 when I called him up to obtain quality cockatiel stock to build on the local stock I had acquired. I couldn’t believe I was talking to “Philip Feret” THE one! But, Phil, was always looking to help out novices. He told me, I don’t have anything right now but I have these four babies from Robert Spicnall that you can buy from him for only $125 a baby and they are very nice. “Darn,” I thought, “he does not want to sell to me, I have to be ‘someone’ for him to sell to.” I picked up the cockatiels in early spring 2000 down in Georgia from another exhibitor, Don Dunn. He was raving about them. I got to put them in Novice because they were novice bands. Phil had slipped in a surprise, a beautiful Dominant Yellowface. They were so rare and I was felt so privileged that he shared it with me! The babies were young, around 8-9 weeks old. The youngest one, an 8 week old baby took Best Novice and from there on I was hooked.
Later on I found out that Phil was really helping me by sending me to Robert. Robert had some of Phil’s best stock and was a good friend of Phils. Phil was giving me the best stock with Robert’s novices bands on them. Along the way, Robert and I became good friends also. Phil sacrificed a future sale to get me hooked into cockatiels and that he did!
Anyone who knew Phil was automatically wanting to be around him. You could find him, in his younger days, at the bar with all us young kids and keeping up with us quite well. Back at his room at shows, he would teach us all how to breed correctly and how he worked with his stock. Back then, there was no separation in the society, just US! We loved cockatiels and all of us were working together to get it done. Phil Feret was the leader of the group. He didn’t work much behind the bench, he worked the audience; showing all of us the ins and outs of his breedings. He gave (literally GAVE) birds to what would become top exhibitors (such as Julie Allen and Josh Maple). Their success lied solely on the shoulders of a man who would part with the “best of the clutch”. I was fortunate too. I would often go to Seattle and get stock from the Cockatiel King.
For years, that is what I knew of him, the King of Cockatiels. That is, before he moved to North Carolina. Two years after moving down here, Phil was stricken with a blood bacteria and ended up in hospital for months on end. I, his only friend in North Carolina and my friend Steve Cyr, kept vigil over his bed day and night. I felt compelled to help the man who helped me all these years. As months progressed, Phil got out of the hospital and into a rehab facility. Our daily visits were always a joy. We went past cockatiels and became good friends. His love of cockatiels was evident and I noticed when I brought birds to visit, he was a different person. He absolutely loved having babies crawl all over him. Each day, Phil grew anxious to get back to a place where he was before the infection that riddled his body. Unable to walk, he dreamed of the day he would be back with cockatiels and feeding them. It seemed like that day would never come, but Phil… Phil was tenacious. Hard on himself for his lack of progress even though my husband Karl and myself could see improvements every day. Days turned into months into a a year and Phil was finally able to go home. He was elated to see I gave him two finches to keep in his apartment. He was always talking about them and wanted something else. Soon enough I gave him cockatiel babies to feed. I would drop them off as babies and as soon as they would take flight I would get a call “Leslie, come get these darn babies, I can’t chase them around”. Always when I left with them in tow, he would kiss each one and give them scratches on their heads. He would drive over just to visit them and my pomeranians. I am pretty sure, I was also a reason, but Phil had in his soul the breath of animals. They were his reason for living and even in his unexpected death, he was helping me educate the ICA judges and starting a budgie breeding section to his apartment.
I hope some of you don’t mind if I use these posts to remind myself of where I have been and what I have become because of those who entered my life. For me, it was Philip Feret. My mentor first, my friend second, and a part of my family last.