The dog and the bird

I thought I’d share this little bit of remembering from my childhood 🙂

Down the street from the house where I grew up was Southside Park, a large green space with the Thames River running through it. I recall wondering where the river flowed from and to, but never bothered to find out. I thought the river was intimidating. There was a pond, dirtied from ducks and geese, and a bridge, and much of the flowing water was trapped between high cement walls.

Two memories stick out when I think about that park. I guess I was around seven or eight and just wasting my day down at the park when I happened to glance through the back window of a car and spot a small dog dangling from its collar. It had leapt over the passenger seat and was chocking. I could see a group of people sitting some distance from the car but I was too shy to tell them what was going on in what I assumed to be their car.  Shaking but determined, I approached the car and found the back door unlocked. I opened it and stealthily lifted the dog enough to release the tension and remove its collar, then I closed the door and quickly skipped off in the opposite direction. I didn’t turn around but I was aware that all those eyes were on me.

And then there was the time I saved a baby bird from drowning. Walking along side that river, I saw a little sparrow flailing in the current. I climbed down the cement wall, my toes barely touching the ledge below, my arms stretched. I let go and dropped to the narrow surface. Only inches above the water, I debated wading in. Another look at the struggling creature, and I plunged one leg in after the other. The water was above my knees, I walked holding onto the ledge, the water rose to my meet my thighs, I had to let go of the cement edge and wade a little further toward the middle of the flowing water, and it was here that I could reach the sparrow. I scooped it up and made my way back against the current to the where the wall met the grass so I could more easily climb out now that I only had one hand free. I cradled the tiny creature in my t-shirt and headed up the hill toward home. Distraught, I told my mother the story. My mom found me a shoebox, and I made a little nest out of an old hand towel. I wasn’t allowed to bring the box in the house, and so I sat with the bird on our front porch. A little later, my parents came out to tell me they’d called the vet and that the vet had advised that I take the bird to a safe spot near where I’d found it. I carried the box with the bird inside back down to the park and found a bushy shrub to hide the bird under, out of harm’s way. I left the towel for extra protection. I don’t think my parents actually called the vet, nor do I think that baby bird survived.


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