Don’t worry. This isn’t a serious blog entry… I just wanted a ‘punnish’ title.
For the largest part of my life, my father did competitive pigeon racing. (yes; that’s an actual thing). There were pigeon cages all over the yard for as long as I can remember. My father is a true farmer in all aspects of the word. He grew up on a small holding and milked cows when he was four. I grew up in a small town with large yards, so don’t imagine a London-esque flat with filthy, white poop stained metal cages. They were large and spacious and didn’t look that bad, although my mother might disagree.
In all honesty, I didn’t like the pigeon business all that much. I was young and quite a tomboy which meant I liked to spend my days outside and I was lucky enough to have a huge yard to do just that. The problem was this: Saturdays were when the pigeons would be raced. Birds get scared when there are movements on the ground that they don’t know. Birds don’t land when they are scared. Our swimming pool was right next to the cages. Do you see where I’m going with this? I couldn’t be outside on Saturdays. Not at the pool or in our yard, anyway. I remember wanting to sun bathe the one day and my dad chasing me away because the damn pigeons didn’t want to land.
It’s also difficult to explain the principle of a bird “diet” to a child. Obviously, the pigeons had certain food restrictions when a big race was coming up just like athletes would have. But I was a child, and we had barrels full of maize and sunflower seeds. To my understanding, maize seeds to pigeons is the equivalent of potatoes to humans. The one day I decided I wanted to feed the birds. They seemed so hungry in their cages that they ate what I gave them in a heartbeat. So I gave them more. Until they were full. It was a Friday before a race. I do not remember how they faired at the race that Saturday, but I remember my dad being incredibly angry that I would dare feed them. I didn’t understand.
Apart from not being able to play outside on Saturdays, there were other implications too. I couldn’t have any pet I wanted. You can appreciate the fact that having a cat wouldn’t be possible. But I couldn’t have any dog either. I remember almost being bitten by a Copper Spaniel and I was terrified of dogs because of it. So my mother wanted me to get a dog to remedy this terror. I was beside myself. They went to the nearest city the one day, and my mother told me they’d come back with a Jack Russel puppy. I waited all day for them to come back. I was so excited to meet the promised, white female puppy. My parents came home, but they were alone. I was so disappointed. I asked my mom later, where is my puppy? And she told me my father had heard earlier in the week that Jack Russels would kill the pigeons and my dad couldn’t have that. My father’s friend had a JR that didn’t hunt the pigeons, so he assumed the dog won’t do it. But the friend told him that he had to punish the dog almost daily until it stopped doing it.
I eventually got a medium Poodle that I named Danny, (Danny Zucko from Grease) and when he died in 2002 (old lady that shouldn’t have been driving) I got a teacup Poodle named Murphy. I probably shouldn’t have named him that, because he died in 2010 by being killed by a bull terrier. Poodles didn’t give two shits about pigeons. Although, Murphy did feel confident in charging a full grown bull once.
The reason I’m telling this story is because a cat came into my house today and rubbed against my foot and I remembered an incident when I was about 12. I was visiting a neighbour with my mom when a cat came up to me and started purring and rubbing against my legs. I freaked out and asked my mom what’s wrong with it. She remembers the incident to this day, because she couldn’t believe I was so freaked out by normal cat behaviour.
We can really be terrified by things we have no experience with, but if we take as step back, we’ll realise it’s not as bad as we think.