Illustration by Jenny Lamont
In which DD puts aside her irrational fear of birds (no thanks to Sir Alfred Hitchcock) to save a lost pigeon.
The day was going swimmingly. Work on Happy Tails (www.happytailsmagazine.co.za) was ticking over nicely. Sheba and Sammy were curled up peacefully in their favourite places after a morning game of ball. I can’t be sure where The Twins (Arty Cat and Brother Lewie) were at the time, but no doubt it was somewhere comfy. And The Budgie Birds, Boris and Georgie, were enjoying their morning in the lounge; due to the usual Cape Doctor (aka horrid wind!), they couldn’t go outdoors. Yes, all was right with the world…
And then it happened. Due to well-tuned ears and the uncanny intuitiveness of a momma in touch with her animals (I’m not called DD Doolittle for nothing), I heard the shrill edge of panic in Georgie’s chirp and rushed (as quickly as a 52-year-old woman with a dodgy hip can rush) to the lounge to see what was afoot.
The Budgies were clearly highly upset about something, but, on investigation, they were perfectly safe. Curiouser and curiouser… It was Sheba Shanks who caught on faster than the rest of us (Sammy had joined the investigation team and was only a little more bleary-eyed than I was after a good few hours of staring at my laptop screen).
In a strangely Lassie-like “Timmy’s down the well” motion, clever Sheba indicated that we were not alone.
A brave but foolhardy random Mr Pigeon had flown into the cottage. The youngsters are daring and (if you’ll excuse the pun) egg each other on to swoop indoors to see if they can get any of the budgie seed that Georgie delights in tossing liberally about on the carpet.
Of course, once in, they forget to get back out, and then the fun (or rather only fun for Sheba) begins. We have a loft, so, after zooming in a kamikaze-pilot fashion around the lounge – with me ducking and “eeping” all the while – lurching into the mirror and banging against windows, and rudely pooping on our dining room table (The Dad noticed this at dinner time!), our daring visitor, Mr Pigeon, found his way upstairs. Oh boy!
As much as I love my budgies and all birds, there’s something deeply unsettling about having them fly directly at you, flapping wildly and with no sense of direction, that totally freaks me out. Climbing up the SSSS (Sh*t Scary Steep Stairs) behind a very bouncy dog (Sheba is part Labrador, and aren’t they bird dogs?), followed by a slightly slower Sammy anxiously clutching her smelly socks in her mouth like a nervous old lady with her pearls, is enough to make anyone wish they’d taken a swig of Rescue Remedy with their morning coffee.
Reaching the top of the stairs, I scanned the loft for a glimpse of where Mr Pigeon had gone whilst flinging all three loft windows open as wide as they would go. I could hear him scuttling about but couldn’t see him. Hmm, is that less worrying? I think not.
To make the experience even more heart-poundingly stressful, just as I finally spotted Mr Pigeon sitting on the floor, right at the entrance of a storage cabinet that The Twins love to hang out in (talk about a death wish!), I felt an extra pair of eyes boring into us. Slowly turning, to my horror I spotted the bright-blue eyes of Twin number one, Arty Cat, who’d decided to pop upstairs to see what all the commotion was about. Eep! Visions of terrible pigeon demise filled my head.
Faced with that well-known fight or flight response, I had to put on my big girl broeks. I firmly told Arty Cat NOT to move. Incredibly, he actually seemed to listen (but made it look as if he’d been planning on staying put all along – as cats do). I sidled up to Mr Pigeon in what I hoped looked like a calm and caring movement, and told him not to panic and that his best route out was through the nearest loft window. Much like a seasoned air hostess, I directed him to the nearest exit using hand signals for extra good measure, and – oh my giddy aunt! – it actually worked.
Mr Pigeon casually soared up and straight out through the window with an exciting story to tell his pigeon pals, leaving Sheba and Arty looking rather disappointed, and me feeling hugely relieved and in need of a whiskey or chocolate – or both. (Sammy had, by now, gotten bored and curled up in her doggie bed using her security socks as a comfy pillow.)
Flopping back down at my desk and waiting for my heart rate to return to normal, I reminded myself of the many benefits of working from home. But I can’t help remembering that I never had to deal with errant pigeons, or mice, snakes or any of the near-dead things which The Twins gift me with back when I had a cushy office job…