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The Story of Aunt Harriette
By: Nancy McIntyre
Submitted by Nancy on 16 Nov 2001
Let me introduce you to Aunt Harriette. She's my companion, friend and (pardon me for revealing a bit too much about my private life) we sleep together. You're probably thinking "yeah, so, nothing unusual there..."except that Aunt Harriette is a feral pigeon.
I am known for my love of animals. I will attempt to help any injured creature if I can. Hence, Aunt Harriette.
When she came to me, she had been burned (I suspect) by a power line. She had lost all the feathers on her right wing, back of her head, and top layers of flesh on her beak. I could see the overwhelming fear in her eyes and my heart went out to her.
First things first. I gave her a bath, put antibiotic ointment on her burns and snuggled her up in a warm towel. Then, I fed her my old 'stand-by' baby cereal. Fluids consisted of watered down apple juice. This took care of her immediate needs.
If I've learned anything in my dealings with vulnerable animals, it's that I must leave them their dignity. So, I let Aunt Harriette lead. When she became well enough, I would make small attempts to approach her (by this time, she was eating on her own). I usually got rebuffed by a menacing wing and beak. I would respond by pretending to be afraid of her attacks. She seemed to really enjoy this. Gradually, I got closer and eventually, was able to pick her up. Our friendship grew from there.
I had all the intentions of letting her go back to the wild but, left the decision up to Aunt Harriette. I didn't want her to go, but I thought it was only right. That day never came. Now she is my constant shadow. Right now, she's sitting on the computer.
She even follows me to the bathroom! She has figured out the function of all the facilities. When she wants a bath, she hops in the tub. Now, this part sounds too wild to be real, but she has even hopped on the toilet and done her business! I suspect that it was just an accident that she did that, but if it wasn't, I won't be surprised.
She's taught me to speak 'pigeon' but to be honest, I don't really know what I am saying. All I figured out was that it's better to bow back when she bows her head at me. She has a noise that she uses for strangers and one for her 'family'. People who know me are not the least bit surprised to see a pigeon walk across my floor like she owns the place.
I'm glad that I was encouraged to do what I thought was right instead of what was popular in society. I'm not discouraged by the opinions of people who think I am 'nutty' for my love of all creatures. It has opened up experiences for me that are incomparable.
Thank God for Aunt Harriette!
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