I’d had a rough week, if I’m honest. Between my ear infection, car issues and manic work deadlines, I’m just barely keeping my head above water. But what I do have in all this is a perfect nest of baby robins that are thriving in safety under my deck. It would be an understatement to say that I’m obsessed with them, and needless to say, so is Pot Roast.
Because of his current gut infection, Roast has me currently up about twice a night to use the “facilities” outdoors. And while I’m tired, I also am grateful he’s barking to get outside. So after a week of late night bathroom antics with him, I trudged towards the back door and let him into our fenced yard, for once, not thinking of the safety of the birds.
They’d all essentially fledged, but some were still returning to the nest here and there. And while I watched from the back door in a case of horrific slow motion, Pot Roast found a baby bird puttering across the backyard. At first, I was horrified. He was going to eat it! Yikes! And there was me, watching from the glass door, gripping the door handle like I might break it off.
He was interested in the bird, of course, but I felt relieved to see him relatively leaving it alone. That is, until it chirped. This freaked him right out and he leaped in the air and landed on this poor, defenceless bird. Then he sniffed and nudged it, seemingly disappointed it didn’t continue to squeak like a toy.
Like the momma robin herself, I flew out the back door to the bird’s defence. It’s worth noting that since it was the middle of the night and I had been dead asleep…I, ahem, wasn’t wearing much of anything. But when it comes to protecting an animal, my sense of shame apparently goes right out the window. So I fly out the door and called Roast and practised our most important of commands. “LEAVE IT!” I have never been so grateful that I’ve worked so hard to train him. He left the bird alone and trotted towards me and in my panic, I started moving towards him and saying, “Good boy!”
Also worth noting…rain. So much rain had come in the previous days that my deck, which I just painstakingly waterproofed, had pools of beaded water. I slipped on it and fell down the deck stairs, thankfully wounding nothing but my pride, but it was enough to scare Roast into running back to the bird and scampering around the yard with it in his mouth. Not biting it…just carrying it like the two of them were about to be best friends.
At this point I couldn’t help but cry and wail like a baby over this feathered life lost. I’d been watching these birds for weeks as they went from eggs to naked little beings to fully functioning robins. And I hate nothing more than to see an animal suffer. As I chased Roast around the yard at 5am, crying like a maniac, I suddenly had the forethought that I might wake the neighbours. The neighbours might look out their window and see me chasing the dog essentially naked around the yard at dawn.
But before that could feel like the real issue, I slipped in Pot Roast’s most recent “deposit,” which I’ll spare you the details other than to say, it wasn’t pretty folks. I know, because it was smeared up my thigh, hand, chest and arms. Let’s just say, I cried a lot harder then, and Pot Roast clearly thought this was the best morning game he’d ever played. He finally dropped the bird and wagged his tail at me, proud as a peacock.
Somehow, I got Roast inside and I had the longest shower anyone has ever had in the history of showers. But it was a keen lesson that at the end of the day, our dogs are pets, with a prey drive that is innate and part of their DNA. As much as I wanted to be mad, the dog didn’t know he’d done anything wrong and ironically, he’d been so gentle with it, although such a tiny thing couldn’t withstand his weight. But I do know that next year, I’ll be ensuring the robin nests are made only in a space that is safe for them.
And before I ever enter the backyard again, I’ll be doing a major poop scoop. Whether it’s 5am or not.