I'm a dog whisperer and bird whisperer in one. And these personalities collided today.
Sierra, Sierra, Sierra. What now?
I'd just let my pound puppy out but now her barking is waking up the neighborhood....again Bedhead and jammy-fied I step outside to inspect. She's on the chase in the corner of the lanai, jumping from one side to the next of a wrought iron lounge chair nestled in the corner. Oh no, not again.
That furry brown happy-go-lucky brat has killed three tiny little birds in the past several months. When I find the little birdie body, or worse, she plays "keep away" with it while I'm frantically worried about whether the little life in her mouth is still alive...let's just say it's really, really hard to not hate my doggie at that moment.
"She's just a dog..she's going to have instincts that are beyond her control," my insanely steady husband consoled me while I silently grieved after disposing of the previous three lives. "I know," I thought, feeling deflated but impatient, annoyed and irritated at the same time, since life revealed itself - yet again - as something that makes absolutely no sense to my limited human understanding. And the frustration isn't aimed solely on the dog. As an oftentimes fleshy, impulsive emotional, now-now-now junkie myself...who am I to judge the dog? Aren't I a little bit of her, too? Why does it have to be that way? Grrrrrrr.
But back to the story. Hands on hips I'm thinking "Well, fooey!" This is urgent, so no going back to get my slippers or a robe. I've got to stop this!
Resigned to the chilly morning and gritty pavers, I dash to the corner, grab Sierra by the collar and march her thrashing body back into the house, all the while mildly cognizant of the fact that my little wrist could snap if she swings around too sharply (bear in mind she's 70 pounds and I'm 95 and I have the tiniest wrist of anyone I've ever known).
Dog properly quarantined, I head back out to investigate. What appeared, by my contact-less eyeballs, to be a slightly askew dark rectangle on the upper portion of the screen was, upon further inspection, a brown and beige bespeckled little bird. It was the size of a finch. It was absolutely lovely and it was terrified.
As I gingerly approached, I noticed that the bird was barely hanging onto the screen. In fact, it's body was oddly dropping down backwards while just his little toes were barely hanging on. Ah, hah! I thought. So that's how the dog gets them. Their tiny little legs get so exhausted from hanging on the screen! Their legs have got to be not much more than a couple of millimeters in diameter.
While pondering my next steps, I think about my bird-like past. There's something about those colorful, temperamental, energetic and flightly birds that I, well, relate to. My first word as an infant was "bird" and my crazy sweet Spanky, otherwise known as the SFB (Stupid Fu...nny Bird by my husband) is seen (incorrectly) as a vicious little devil, drawing blood from everyone except for me. (Not that I'm special. He would bite me too, if I didn't approach him patiently and carefully - took six months before he would sit on my hand).
While I do tend to struggle with a touch of impatience here and there, there are some situations where my patience abounds and often surprises me. One of them is tutoring a child that needs more time to understand something and the second is waiting on a fearful creature to open up on their own. Birds are very sweet, loving and social but at the same time they are very cautious and scared. When they lash out by taking a chunk out of your earlobe, or running at full speed across the ground to your outstretched hand perch only to vigorously clamp down and bite, they are simply frightened, insecure or hurt and "acting up" out of frustration. But that's not their true self. The real bird loves to cuddle and lean against your hand and be close...
So after standing for a few appropriate moments, I slowly reach my hands out and cup them underneath the bird's back, which was now parallel to the ground as it leaned back awkwardly, it's feet still barely clinging upright on the screen. For a few still seconds the bird simply rested there. It's body was so incredibly...soft. I felt relieved on behalf of the bird. Ahhh...a much needed break from hanging onto the screen.
Soon it got its wings back again. He fluttered to the ground and I simply held still, allowing the bird to recuperate without the threat of advancement. At this moment I prayed "Dear God, please help me to communicate with this creature. I need to show him the location of the door." I spied the pool skimmer and imagined a non-bird whisperer's tactic that would probably involve being overly active and trying to " bat it" outside. No, being on the offense isn't the right approach for a bird. Instead I'd have to herd, by taking a few slow small steps at a time, with adequate pause in between to give the avian time to assess his escape route from me, the percieved threat. (That would make him more secure and confident in himself).
Two steps later the bird was out. Step one moved him out of the corner, but up onto another part of the screen, albeit closer to the door. Step two got him to fly away, free at last.
Free at last. Yay!
As I walked inside, I felt quietly grateful for the bird rescue and I stopped to think over my solitary morning tea and routine. What a wonderful experience to have with nature. Just me, myself and a little bird.
When I think about this bird, I think about my loved ones, both personally and professionally. While it was thrilling - that awesome moment when I got to hold the bird in my hands and experience the the privilege of connecting with it's incredible feathers - I realized that ultimately I could do so only temporarily. He or she was like a child, whom you can help with physical nourishment or rest or incidental support, but ultimately you have to let them fly on their own. They are the ones that have to find the way to the door, to forge their own path.
Sometimes too, communicating with others is as simple as standing beside them, for as long as it takes, but not saying a word. Just being there and allowing people the freedom to be who they are. Figuring out how to relate without changing or controling others. Guiding but not dictating.
There is wisdom communicated in our daily lives if we take the time to see it.
Dear God, thank you for the opportunity to communicate with others. To simply be there for others when the opportunity presents itself. While I may not understand why the world works out the way it does, I know that your goodness abounds and I trust and am comforted by that. Oh, and one more thing....I forgive my doggie, just as you've forgiven me.
French Bulldog and Lovebird - http://www.animalliberationfront.com