Subject: Grateful Dog
The Grateful Dog video was great, and it reminded me of my own story with a small bird caught in the stairway behind an apartment I used to live in. It's has long been my opinion that animals are better at communicating and complex thought than we humans give them credit for, and it shows when they are caught in situations they can't get themselves out of. Indulge my story, if you will, and draw your own conclusion.
The building was a simple duplex with a basement. If you were to walk the entire flight of stairs, you would start in the basement, up 6 steps, turn left twice on the platform, and repeat 4 times to reach my kitchen door entrance on the top floor. I initially thought the bird was a bat when I arrived home the night before, and had decided to leave the nasty little flying rat to it's own devices. In the morning however, I learned it was not only still there, but a bird. A sparrow if I'm not mistaken.
With the help of my downstairs neighbor and her 5 and 7 year olds, we attempted to aid our little avian prisoner in it's escape, but to no avail. All we managed to do was scare the hell out of it, and seemingly make it even more determined to head butt it's way through the small, unopenable window it would perch itself on the edge of when needing a rest. By this time the kids were bored and hungry, and I had run out of ideas, so I sat down by myself on the 3rd step from the top platform, in sight of the bird to ponder what else I could do. This was when I started talking.
I doubt what I actually talked about really mattered. I can call my cat the worst names in the world, and talk about how many different ways she could be prepared for dinner, but as long as I speak to her in the right tone, she loves it. As I went on about how I had run out of ideas I noticed that the birds eyes were no longer seeming to bug out of it's head, and it's breathing had clearly slowed down. I realized that the bird was calming down, so I went on. And on. It startled me a bit when it took flight just enough to drop to the floor. It never took it's eye off me as it slowly inched it's way toward me until it was within reach. I made my first movements since I had sat on the step, when I reached for the work gloves I had brought with me. The bird simply sat there and watched me as I put them on, reached over with two hands, and gently picked the bird up.
About 20 minutes passed, from the time I sat on the step until the bird flew from my hands, during which I never stopped talking. I say again, that I don't think what I said made the difference, rather that I continued to talk in a calm and even tone and sat still long enough for the bird to size me up. That bird, with it's tiny brain, still had to come to the conclusion that it had no choice but to let me help it, and then contain it's instincts long enough to allow me to do so.
As trivial as this little altercation is in the grand scheme of things, I still think it's one of the coolest things I've ever done.