Bird Dog

She is not the same as he, he herds, he stays close, he is a loner.  She is high energy, always happy to say hello to anyone, to anything.  He pays attention, but only as a means of protection.  She pays attention to, to smells, to people, to birds.  She watches as the murders of crows wing through the windy grey sky, at the doves as they watch us from the wires, at the hawk that circles and circles.

It is afternoon, cold, and snowy, and she is wound from a day in her crate.  She throws herself into the banks of snow, buried up to her nose, leaping like a horse over some high obstacle in the steeple chase, up and over, up and over, and then into the snow pocket of the fire hydrant.  It is the home owner’s duty to shovel around it, keeping it clear and visible in case it is needed.  And she comes out from behind it with a bird in her mouth.

I am dismayed, a dead, diseased, rotted or covered in lice, little bird.  But as I look, I cannot tell if it is the wind or her breath or a beating heart I see movement, either way this must be dropped.

Drop it.

Drop it.

And she does.  It hops off, trying to fly, and failing, it is hopping in the road, saved from the mouth of dark slobbery death only to be smashed by a speeding car.  I quickly tie both dogs to the hydrant sign.  And hop along after it, trying to catch it as it hops and flaps and flaps and hops.  Finally, it stops, realizing flying would not be happening, and giving up to the giant creature, trying to peep like a baby chick, and uttering such lies as, I won’t hurt you, I promise.

It waits, looking back at me, immobile.

I pick it up.

I cup my soft alpaca covered hands around it making a nest of mitten, it is turning its head waiting to look death in the eye, defenseless with its tiny beak against the lumbering land bound giant who know holds her captive. I feel her heart beating in my hands, I talk soothingly to her, seeing that death is not immediate and  passing the dogs, I tell them they are good for standing so still, but she sees I am not delivering her into their snapping jaws.  I take the little wren to the brambly bush they often congregate in, making a racket in the afternoon sun, although the birds in the neighborhood, have gone from, its almost spring,gabbering, to silence as this drama unfolds.

I set her carefully on a branch and shortly she drops to the ground, burrowing through snow deep into the  bramble.

Later I clumsily throw seed into the bush, hoping she will live, hoping her wing is only bruised.

I worry that I will get lice or bird sickness on my mittens.

I see this dog’s predatory nature, she is bred for hunting birds.

I hear the birds in the neighborhood, they are saying something to me, it is a directed noise, a sharp questioning cheep.

I hear it, but I understand nothing.

 

marley

 

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