Rescuing animals is a rewarding, and sometimes challenging, task – but I never expected that rescuing my dog would in turn save my rescued bird, who I feared I wouldn’t be able to help.
I have always promised myself that if I’m going to have an animal it will come from a shelter, a promise that has led me to owning two rescued birds and a rescued dog.
Some days, I think of how much easier it would be if I had just raised my pets myself, but there’s no better feeling than seeing an animal's love grow as they put their rough roads behind them.
My Dutch Shepherd Shaw has been the light of my life since I took him home from Chicago’s Animal Control a little more than two years ago.
Before him, I had two birds that I rescued from shelters in Wisconsin and Minnesota – a king parrot and a white-capped pionus.
My white-capped pionus, Samson, was the first animal my boyfriend and I rescued and has by far been the most challenging to help. He was incredibly cage aggressive and did not like being touched. He screamed loudly and often if he was left alone in a room, which made living in an apartment challenging (sorry, neighbors).
The king parrot Jazz is sweet, but enjoys his alone time and does not fit well against Samson’s dominant nature. Needless to say, the two have never been friends.
When I brought home my dog Shaw, I wasn’t confident he and Samson would ever get along. In fact, their first interaction was Shaw sniffing Samson’s cage and Samson quickly biting him right on the nose. If there’s one word to describe that bird it is fearless.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve slowly worked at getting Shaw used to the other animals in the home. Should anything happen, we want him to know they are “friends, not food.”
Never did I expect that would lead to the bond he now shares with Samson.
Samson and Shaw are now closer than ever. Where Shaw goes, Samson follows, usually on the ground. When Shaw eats, Samson is at the bowl with him, eating his food.
Not only has their developing bond been amazing to watch, but it’s made a noticeable difference in Samson's attitude. He spends more time out of his cage and is more open to letting my boyfriend and I pet and hold him.
It is definitely still a work in progress, and the screaming still hasn’t stopped (again, sorry neighbors), but it’s a step forward that I feared we would never be able take.