Thursday, September 29, 2011
Crossed conditions and hapless doves
Do you ever have a week where you feel that life is simply, well...against you? Where you start to wonder what on earth you might have done to deserve such a string of bad luck? And where, additionally, you start to feel a bit superstitious, such as wondering if you have been, in the old-fashioned way of thinking..."crossed"?
In this post I will restrict myself to lamenting about extracurricular activities, as it were, and leave aside the special depths of Hell known as my job, as that is sure to bore everyone, and besides, in these uncertain times, surely the most acceptable statement, job-wise, is "I'm grateful to have one...." ??
But, paid employment beside: Saturday, my Audubon singing bird clock is knocked off the wall and breaks. Of course I immediately went to my nearest Wild Birds Unlimited and got a new one, which I like. But...it's not the same. "My" clock is dead.
Monday...I take my dachshund to obedience school. Not only is he the second to worst dog in the class, barking-wise, but...after the lessons, he shows what he thinks of being told what to do by lifting his leg and whizzing all over my shoe. In front of everyone.
Yesterday...while walking dogs at local Weldon Springs park, my husband Greenturtle twists his ankle, resulting in a sprain and lump the size of a golf ball on the side of his foot.
Today...we learn that our property taxes are past due and somehow not calculated into our escrow account and so Greenturtle has to run around transferring money in order to pay for the "surprise," instead of resting his foot like he should be.
And amidst all this, there are mourning doves in need of help.
Tuesday, one of my dogs, Raven the cocker spaniel, somehow managed to escape the confines of the back yard, and when she finally came in response to our increasingly frantic calls, she was carrying a young mourning dove in her mouth.
I saw Greenturtle walk up to her, yank the bird from her jaws and toss it aside, and asked, as he led Raven towards the house, "Is it dead?"
"It will be," he said.
Do you know the expression, "My blood ran cold?" That's how I felt at that moment. In a way, a soon-to-be-dead bird is worse than a dead one. Because one feels no obligation to something that's dead. But something alive and injured demands help.
I walked up, and saw that the poor little thing, a mourning dove so young it still had some pin feathers, was still breathing. It was frozen with shock, missing its tail, and had some scrapes or sores on its side and bottom, but it was still alive.
I called some random veterinary clinics until I found one that had the number for a local (or, in my case, since I have moved to the boondocks, semi-local) wildlife rehabilitator. This woman agreed to take care of the young dove, but I had to drive all the way back to Normal (about 20 miles one way) and back to deliver it.
There was no debate in my mind what I had to do. If I left the poor thing out all night, it would surely die. So I gently wrapped it in an old T-shirt for warmth and placed it in a shoebox and took off.
Just as I was getting into town, it revived itself, flapped its way out of the T-shirt, out of the shoebox (which I hadn't put a lid on--OK, live and learn, but when I picked the dove up it wasn't even moving, let alone flapping!), and into the space between the seat and the car door.
When I arrived, all I could see, when I opened the passenger side door, was its butt jammed under the seat. Well, we--by which I mean, Gail the Wildlife Rehabber-- got it out and took a look. She said that although it was definitely injured, it actually didn't look that bad, and she put it in a shoe box with another injured young mourning dove, expressing the hope that maybe the two would be able to comfort each other. In fact, Raven might have actually saved its life by bringing it to me. Since the dove didn't have any puncture type wounds, and Gail suggested that Raven probably found it already wounded and just picked it up as spaniels are wont to do, perhaps I can rest guilt free about the role my dog played in the Dove's Tale.
All the while I was ferrying the dove to its destination, I just wanted it to make it there. I wanted the little thing to live, no more, no less. Mission accomplished, I wondered if I had accumulated any good karma and told myself what an important spiritual lesson that was, pure compassion and all that. If only I could drum up those sorts of feelings more often.
And then today: Hapless Doves, the sequel. Sequels are never as good as the first one, right? As I was walking towards my front door after work, exhausted and crabby after another day at the office, looking forward to an evening watching videos checked out from the library and enjoying a Dos Equis or two...BLAM! A mourning dove flew away from me and hit the neighbor's window.
I ran over to check it out. It was another young dove, perhaps even a sibling to the one I'd helped earlier...and it was stunned, flopping helplessly on the ground. Full disclosure? I thought: shit, shit, shit, not ANOTHER one! And then I gently picked it up.
It clung on to my hand for dear life (see above photo)... About ten minutes later, I managed to coax it off my hand and onto the floor of my front porch. Then I called Gail the Rehabber, who promptly called me back and explained that window strikes can break a bird's collar bone, which would explain why the dove was able to hop and scurry away from me but not fly. She offered to take it in if I could deliver it, but when I asked if I could maybe help it along myself for a few days with fresh water, rest, and bird seed, she said absolutely, as long as I kept it safe and fed, it should heal on its own within two weeks.
What a relief! I really wasn't into another late night trip into town. So now I have an overnight guest, snug in a cardboard box on my porch. (I'd originally planned to put it into a spare cockatiel cage, but Gail explained that it might get its wing stuck in the bars and even tear it off in a panic...so no cages...I mean really, who wants to see that???)
Is this the beginning of a new phase of nursing injured birds back to health? I wouldn't mind becoming a bona fide wildlife rehabilitator at some point. In the meantime, if doves could stop hurting themselves in my yard, I'd be eternally grateful!
For anyone who finds this talk of bad weeks and wounded doves too heavy, I offer, as distraction, photos of my dachshund Trevor stylin' in his new sweater:
P.S., When I called Gail today, she said that Mourning Dove #1 is still alive, doing better, and even starting to grow back some tail feathers...hooray!