Seeing the image below reminded me of my “mushing” days back in the seventies (that was the decade in the 20st century that saw the rise of disco music, which dominated during the last half of the decade with bands like the Bee Gees, ABBA, Village People, Boney M, Donna Summer, KC and the Sunshine Band, etc. (Wikipedia).
Learn more about Denise’s affinity to feathers, fur & fins @ wildhair.ca
I acquired my best lead dog ever from doc Haxby at a northwest suburban Illinois animal hospital. He knew I was into sledding and building a team which prompted him to call me after the local PD dropped off a rough-looking Huskey (had a very “wolfy” look).
The town had a 72-hour euthanasia ordinance so the doc said the “clock was ticking” and that I should come over to the vet hospital to see it because in his words “the dog might interest me”.
I drove over, looked at the dog, signed the papers shook hands with the doc, and took the dog home. At the time I already had one outdoor dog, a 120 pound Malamute who’s AKC name was “Snokomo’s Top of the World”, we called him “Gruff”
Our indoor dog was Lao-tzu, a Malamute mix. We called her “Ocho.”
Ocho taught our children to walk, literally – she was trustworthy.
We named the new dog Chun-ji, we called him “Jeeger” (my ex wife thought oriental equaled cool, what can I say?).
We also had a Pearl Cockatiel named some other oriental name that now eludes me.
We had gotten it at the now long gone (early eighties??) once famous Sedgewick Bird House in Chicago.
Fast forward a few weeks.
Although Gruff and Jeeger were outside dogs, they’d come in regularly for socialization.
During a doggy “inside visit” one day the Cockatiel for whatever reason, was out.
I can mentally recall on demand that moment the bird spooked, took off and reached my eye level. What happened next was at atom-splitting speed while happening in slow-mo.
Jeeger was so fast (which is why he became my best lead dog – ever) went airborne and had said Tiel between his front teeth as my open palm drove his head with enough force to make him drop the bird whereupon his head slammed into the wall.
Both animals dropped to the ground. Jeeger stood up, shook it off (he literally defined the term “tough son of a bitch”), and awaited a command from me.
The Cockatiel survived but didn’t look long for this world.
I ushered the dogs into their kennels in the back of the house, closed the back door and looked at the quivering grey lightweight body in my hand.
I didn’t have it in me to put the Tiel out of his misery just then, so I wrapped him in towel and left him on the bottom of his cage.
In the morning, miraculously, he had worked his way out of the towel but still wasn’t looking good.
I called doc Haxby.
To frame my relationship with the good veterinarian (now also long gone), in that former life I was running a chain of Sizzler Steak Houses and had a bunch of animals.
I worked a lot of nights so I started to hang out the docs animal hospital on my days off and some mornings, doing chores and assisting with the animals in exchange for veterinary services – I always thought I got the better end of the deal.
So I called the good doc who said “bring him in”.
I did. The doc put a towel down where I laid the bird.
He examined the bird and began to inject hydrating nutrients into the small feathered body.
As I started to verbalize something like “you know doc, I’m not putting a grand into this bird….”. His reply as he put his palm up, (& before I could finish) “and I wouldn’t ask you to, but I have an idea”.
Doc Haxby claimed to be the vet on the movie set “Born Free” a 1966 British drama film starring Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as Joy and George Adamson, a real-life couple who raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya (Wikipedia).
I never questioned that, especially now that he had – an idea – and a smile on his face.
He was a private man but on that day I learned of (and met) his much younger (eccentric) fiancee and her equally eccentric sister in the big barn behind their farmhouse.
The one with a THOUSAND – FREAKIN’ – BIRDS!
The ladies were one of the largest exotic bird dealers in the country at the time.
Carol (the fiancee) clearly wasn’t happy but agreed to “see what she could do.”
Fast forward six weeks.
I’m at the hospital where doc’s on the phone with Carol saying something like “I will make Mitch promise to NEVER let the dogs near the bird again and yes I’ll take you and Margaret (the sister) out for a very nice dinner”.
I presented doc with a bottle of his favorite beverage (21 year old single malt scotch) shook his hand and left to pick up the bird.
Back at the “Crazy Sisters Screeching Bird Emporium” (I made that up in my head but never shared that with them) Carol was pleasant but distant as she explained how they nursed the Tiel back to health.
For six weeks the Tiel got fed hi protein food every 120 minutes 24/7 (the sisters alternated 24-on-24-off while in breeding mode) and was left to convalesce in a quite restrictive (by design) breeding environment.
He lived on happily – dog free – for another 10 years.
That’s my story. So let me ask you – Do your birds play with other animals in your home?