Smart An­i­mals

Mem­o­rable mo­ments from the an­i­mal king­dom

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents - CHRIS­TINE WAL­LACE

Puppy Pack­ages

My four sons had wanted a pet dog for as long as I could re­mem­ber. Five years ago, I gave in. It was early De­cem­ber so I thought it would be nice if Santa brought a pet dog as a spe­cial gift for them. Of course, I didn’t con­sider that if you’re get­ting a dog from a breeder, you some­times have to wait for months for a dog to be born, not to men­tion that pup­pies need to be old enough to be sep­a­rated from their mother.

As it turned out, the breeder was go­ing to have pup­pies avail­able at the end of Jan­uary. Dis­ap­pointed at miss­ing the op­por­tu­nity to give my boys a pet on Christ­mas Day, I de­cided that Santa would give them the ‘heads up’ that their puppy was com­ing by bring­ing each of them a dog-re­lated present. Will, the el­dest and most re­spon­si­ble, got food and water bowls. Ed, the most ac­tive, was given a lead. Sam, still an in­quis­i­tive tod­dler, was given the bed­ding, and baby Rory some ten­nis balls. I printed out a pic­ture of a brown Labrador pup, lam­i­nated it and put it un­der the tree with a note at­tached an­nounc­ing their puppy’s im­mi­nent ar­rival. The boys were beyond ex­cited and when Molly fi­nally ar­rived, she im­me­di­ately felt their love and de­vo­tion. My ‘five kids’ have a spe­cial bond and Molly has a unique gift of seek­ing out whichever of the boys is on his own so that no one is

ever left out. She is a kind and car­ing ‘big sis­ter’ and won’t abide fight­ing among them. They are so keen to please her that when she is around, they are on their best be­hav­iour. She is one very spe­cial girl and our fam­ily wouldn’t be the same with­out her.

Wel­com­ing Party FRANCES LANTERI

In 2009 we were stay­ing at our cousin’s house in Tri­ora, Italy. Perched just above a win­dow ledge was a bird’s nest which my cousin said had been there for many years. Each year, dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies of star­lings came back to make it their home.

We knew they were back be­cause the chat­ter­ing of six newly hatched chicks woke us early ev­ery morn­ing. I man­aged to look into their nest by stand­ing on a chair. The first time I looked the chicks were tiny and al­most feath­er­less. Their mum and dad flew back­wards and for­wards bring­ing food to sat­isfy their very hun­gry and noisy chicks.

Be­ing pro­tec­tive par­ents, when­ever they saw me they screeched and flew at the win­dow. So, I only saw the chicks when they weren’t around.

When the chicks were only a few days old, I re­alised that the par­ents were teach­ing the young­sters to fly. One brave chick flapped its wings a few times and then took off across the street land­ing on the roof of the house op­po­site. Well done, I thought. The next day, my hus­band and I left for a tour of North­ern Italy and I was sad think­ing of how I would miss the rest of the fam­ily tak­ing their first flight. Two weeks later, on our re­turn, the first thing I did was to look in the nest. It was empty. Then, sud­denly, I heard the flap­ping of wings and all eight of them were fly­ing to­wards me. They formed a semi­cir­cle, hov­er­ing in mid-air around the win­dow, all chirp­ing at me for about 20 sec­onds. I felt as though they were say­ing, “Thank you for not harm­ing us.” Then off they hap­pily flew into the clear blue sky.

You could earn cash by telling us about the an­tics of unique pets or wildlife. Turn to page 8 for de­tails on how to con­trib­ute.

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