Memorable moments from the animal kingdom
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.
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