CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Copper is small in size but large in courage.
He jumps on the dog's back for a rollicking romp through the house, takes a bite out of a sandwich that doesn't belong to him, and bathes beneath a trickle of water in the kitchen sink.
The yellow-and-green parakeet is one of two belonging to 10-year-old Catherine Dugan of Charleston. Belle is not as outgoing as Copper but both make great pets, Catherine said.
"They're fun," she said. "They love to talk. They are very entertaining and very adorable."
A visit to the Dugan home verifies her comments.
As a reporter attempted to take notes, Copper tugged at the ink pen and pecked at the words on the notebook.
The birds have the flight of the house during the day and sleep in cages at night. Shep, a 5-year-old Sheltie, naps protectively beneath their cages. While he finds the birds annoying, he still looks out for them.
Copper, who was hand raised, was purchased for $15 at a pet shop in June of 2009 when he was eight weeks old.
Initially, Catherine had requested a pet rabbit but her parents, Linda and Jack Dugan, talked her into a parakeet instead.
Soon, the bird began to talk.
"Copper spent a lot of time on our shoulders and we would just talk to him," Linda Dugan said. "He was very interested in communicating with us and he quickly picked up several words. We did not sit with him for hours teaching him to talk."
Copper's vocabulary has continued to expand so that he now puts together complete sentences. Among these are: "Copper is a pretty little bird." "Copper is special." "Hi, baby." "Don't you bite me." and "Where's Belle?"