i walked dogs this afternoon, as usual, at the humane society. usually the first thing i do when i arrive for my shift is walk through all the kennels and mark which dogs are "able" to be walked (i.e., which dogs have been through all of their temperament evals, etc.). this way i get to say hello to every dog we have, and also scope out any potential favorites. heh.
today i fell in love with a precious little girl dog who was black & white, with cute ears that were floppy-but-perky. she seemed shy, but interested in attention. she was very quiet in her little bedroom, curled up and waiting patiently for someone to notice her. she tugged at my heartstrings for sure. i decided to walk her first.
when i went to get her out of her kennel, she sat patiently while i attached the leash to her collar, and she licked me on the chin. awww. i gave her a kiss on the cheek, and off we went. she was very happy to go outside, and she was a hilarious combination of timid/excited. she was constantly checking in with me; running like a silly one moment, lying near my feet for a belly rub the next. we stopped about halfway around the block to sit in the grass and cuddle. she was just a really special, really sweet girl.
eventually we started walking again and when we were most of the way around the block, we stopped for a rest on the patio. whenever the weather is remotely nice, i stop to spend time with the dogs on the patio. by that time they’re usually done releasing their crazy energy, and they’ve usually gone potty, so this is just a time to hang out and get plain ol’ attention. i love that time, and usually the dogs do, too. i sit on the ground with them and let them sit on my lap or lie next to me or do whatever they like. so anyway, we were sitting together on the ground, and the pup was lying half in my lap, and we were just being quiet and still.
suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, we hear a big flapping noise and i look up to see a bird come flying around the corner at us. it seemed like maybe the bird was hoping to land about where we were sitting, and was startled to find us already occupying the space. she was coming straight for us so i ducked my head and said, "whoa!!" and the dog had no idea what to think. the bird, a mourning dove, ended up landing on the windowsill very near my head, and then she just sat there, looking right at me. i said, "well hi!" and then she hopped down.
while we sat there watching her, she just started walking straight toward us, like she wanted to sit in our laps. the dog thought this was a very exciting development, and she tried to jump toward the bird. not wanting to scare the bird, i told the dog "no" and i held her around the chest and tried to get her to stay calm. i’m sure i wouldn’t have been successful with many dogs, but this dog was pretty cool, and eventually she settled. i was sitting cross-legged, and the dog was on my right (half in my lap), and the dove just kept walking a semi-circle around us, first toward me, then toward the dog, then back toward me. the more calm the dog became, the more bold the dove became. i was just in awe; i had no idea what the heck was going on, but i thought it was wicked cool.
i talked softly to both the dove and the dog; the dove was extremely interested in the dog and also in me, and she just kept coming closer and closer. she was maybe two inches away from me most of the time. she got very close to my right foot/left knee and looked at my shoe, and then suddenly she hopped right up on my shoe. it was the craziest thing ever. she pecked at my shoelace a couple of times, then hopped down. walked toward the dog, then came back and sat on my shoe again. i just couldn’t believe i was holding a dog and a bird in my lap at the same time.
eventually the dove had had her fill of us, and she flew to a nearby picnic table to sit in the sun. she fluffed out her feathers and sat there for a few minutes, and then another dove flew over and sat on a different picnic table in the sun. my puppy friend just kept staring at the bird, and after praising her for awhile, i said to her, "i want the bird to come back over here! don’t you?" heh. so i called the bird. "come here, birdy! come back!" i am such a dork. but seriously, the bird looked at me, listened, and then flew right over and tried to land on my head. that startled me (mostly because i didn’t really want bird poop in my hair), and i shook my hair to discourage her and then she landed on the windowsill again. i stood up, and then she flew and tried to land on my head again. at this point i was cracking up. i decided to take the pup back inside (now that she had had the coolest!walk!ever!) and check with the staff to see what they thought about my super-friendly bird friend.
i rounded up two staff members and took them outside, and now there were a total of three doves waiting around. we deduced that maybe these were doves that had been rehabbed and perhaps released too soon (i.e., they were still too used to/attached to humans), but while we were standing there thinking about it, the dove tried to land on my head again. heh. one of the staff members picked her up (easy as pie!) and just held onto her, and the other staff member went in to talk to someone on our wildlife side. while we were waiting, one of the original dove’s friends tried to land on my head. tee hee. the staff member holding the first bird said, "they love you!" and i was all, "i’m the bird whisperer."
when the wildlife guy came outside, he said that yep, they had just been released, and apparently they still needed a little "startling" to keep them wary of people (not to mention dogs!). he decided to take the super-friendly one back inside to work on isolation again, and we worked at discouraging the other two, who eventually flew away from us. poor cute little rehabbed birdies.
as i was relaying this story to my husband, he said, "did you feel like snow white?" and i have to admit that at first, i did. i was all, "this is the greatest day ever! A WILD BIRD SAT ON MY LAP! my veganness has manifested itself in my pheromones such that wildlife instinctually knows to trust me!" hee, oh well.