brni (brni) wrote,

A dove's tale

Long ago, when we were still living in an apartment, Linda's dad got sick. He was in the hospital for weeks, had a pacemaker put in, and then was released back to our care for a few months. It was obvious from the start that he was no longer capable of maintaining his home, one side of a twin in Ardmore. It had been many months since he'd taken out the trash. The kitchen was full of empty milk cartons, as was the fridge and the laundry room. We got a 30 yard dumpster and started throwing away all the stuff that had decayed and died of neglect.

Early on, we met his next door neighbor, a new-agey body-builder, who was into Enya and pumping iron. We ended up talking to him about pets at one point, and he brought us in to show us his birds. He had two African Ringneck Doves in a parakeet cage, which wasn't even large enough for them to open their wings. He tried to get us to take them, because he didn't like the way they pooped, and he wanted to get some different bird that didn't poop like that. We already had a couple birds, and a couple iguanas, and had taken in Jackie, an insane conure that hated everyone and everything, from some friends. We didn't have room for more animals. We said no. The weekend ended. We went back to our lives.

The next weekend we came back to do some more work on the house. As I was dragging some trash out the back door, I hear a noise. A sort of desperate cooing. I looked, and there was the parakeet cage, sitting in the hot sun in the neighbor's back yard.

There was no food, and no water. The cage hadn't been cleaned since we'd last seen them, and it - and the doves - were covered in tiny ants. He had put them out to die, so that he could get a parakeet. So we took them, cleaned them, and gave them a home. (Soon afterwards, we got a call - he had reported that we had stolen his cage.)

That was fourteen years ago. We named them "The Doves," as they didn't seem to have the sort of personalities that wanted to be named. At the vet's office, their files read "The Dove" and "The Other Dove." They lived happily for a long time, and then one of the doves broke her beak, and there was nothing we could do to save her. The other one lived on for a long time, but without her partner to bring her nesting material, she stopped laying eggs.

She did well, though. She made friends with Precious, the iguana, and would stand on Precious's back and peck at the shedding skin. We had some moments of excitement when Loki tried to play with her. And she loved blues - she'd sing along with old bluesmen, a softly cooed backup to raspy, growled vocals. And Portishead. She loved Portishead.

After we got Loki, Milo, the parrot, started imitating Loki's barking. And then the dove started imitating Milo's imitation of the dog.

She's been ill for over a year now, with strange fluid building up in her abdominal cavity, that we'd have the vet aspirate. We didn't really expect her to live when she first fell ill, but she pulled through. This time, though, she stopped eating, and this morning, she wasn't on her perch. She was on the floor of her cage, huddled in the corner, facing toward the wall. She was all puffed up, and couldn't be induced to eat.

We buried her this afternoon, in the gully behind our house, and marked her grave with stones.
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