In Greene County, a 13-year-old blue macaw named Bebe sits in a cage eagerly waiting for a phone call.

His owner, Melisa Smoody, works 45 minutes away in Washington at the county’s election office on 100 W. Beau St. Smoody uses her security camera and calls the landline phone at her house to talk to Bebe.

“Birds like him are very high maintenance,” Smoody said. “I work pretty far away, around 45 or 50 minutes, so it helps me out in case something was to go wrong.”

Smoody said she often looks at Bebe during her lunch break and when she gets off work.

“Sometimes I call him on the landline phone in my house so he can hear me. Yeah, it gives me a piece of mind knowing he’s OK,” Smoody said.

Hyacinth macaws, commonly known as blue macaws, are native to central and eastern South America. One of the reasons why Smoody calls and watches her security camera is to check on his temperature, because Bebe is a tropical bird. He needs to be regulated around 75 degrees.

“He is from a tropical environment, so I have to make sure his temperature is regulated and if something was to go wrong, like the electricity goes out, I have to make sure I can leave work to go fix it.”

Smoody said if he were to get cold he could get very sick.

“They can easily get respiratory problems, and when that happens it is very difficult to get them healthy again,” Smoody said. “In the wild, they’re considered vulnerable, so they naturally try to hide if they’re sick. I try to monitor him as best as I can.”

Smoody bought a heated perch. Birds transfer their body heat through blood vessels and nerves through their feet, so when Bebe gets cold he can hop on it to try to help heat up his body.

“I have it as a precaution in case something was to go wrong and he was to get too cold,” Smoody said.

Smoody referred to Bebe like a puppy.

“I keep him in his cage while I’m at work because he loves to chew things. He’ll chew on everything he can get hold of. He’s like a puppy. The cage is tall enough that a person could stand up in it with no problem. He likes it in there.”

Ashley Ostrander, an auto loan writer at Community Bank in Washington, uses a security camera to watch her four Chihuahuas.

“I have a 17-year-old Chihuahua and he’s getting so old that he can’t see where the steps are to the couch to climb up. I just want to make sure I know if something’s wrong so I can run home and help him,” Ostrander said.

Her four Chihuahuas, Spike, 17, Chewbacca, 11, Mick Jagger, 10, and Alejandro, 9, get to roam the house while their owner is at work.

“I have the camera set up so it gives me notifications any time there’s movement,” Ostrander said. “I’m a crazy dog lady and I feel guilty leaving the house, so I find it interesting getting to see what they’re up to during the day.”

A statewide survey of 250 pet owners in Pennsylvania, commissioned by Comcast and conducted by Wakefield Research, found that 2 in 5 of those surveyed check in on their pets four times a day or more and 93 percent said checking in on their pet is one of the best times of their day.

After conducting the survey, Comcast created a new ‘Pet Filter’ security camera feature on the Xfinity Camera.

In a news release, Comcast said the camera uses artificial intelligence to quickly sort through hours of footage to identify the ones with just pets in it. It filters out the rest of the footage, so the owners can monitor how their pet is doing throughout the day.

Staff writer

Adrianne Uphold is a senior at West Virginia University. Before joining the Observer-Reporter as the summer intern, she was the managing editor at WVU's student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum. Adrianne also reported for WAJR Radio and Metro News.

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