It was early last summer when my sister Paula and her family were going on a sun holiday to Spain. To my horror, my two young sons, Jordan and Josh jumped up and down when they heard Paula ask us to mind her family pet Tweety, a yellow canary. But there was a hitch. Tweety did not like dogs. Poor Summer, our pet Labrador dog had to spend the three weeks in the garden. Jordan and Josh seemed to be quite happy to put Summer out in the cold.
The day arrived. Paula and I rearranged my tables and chairs to suit Tweety. Just like home! A plant was placed in the stand and the bird couldn’t even see it as it was under the cage. I was getting tired of Tweety already. Paula had not even left my house. Waving goodbye, Paula left very upset. I tried telling her there was nothing to worry about. Sure what could happen?
The very next day after I had brought the children to school, I had just finished a lovely cup of tea when I spotted Summer through the corner of my eye. “Ah Summer are you hungry?” I asked. Getting up I noticed the time, 9.45 the time Paula, Rob and the boys would be flying out. When I got the dog food open and pulled the door, Summer jumped all over me, nearly knocking me down with excitement. “Get down, get off me you silly dog” I shouted. Just then the phone rang. I went back into the house to answer it. It was my husband Anto, with his daily phone call to see if the lads were all right going into school.
“Hi, Anto how are you” I asked. The conversation had gone on for a bit when I heard the crash. I dropped the phone to the floor and ran. “Jesus, Jesus Christ, Summer you stupid dog! The bird! Where is the bird?” I shouted. Summer ran out the open door. As I made my way over to grab the door, standing in the mess – cage, stand, plant, muck, water, it was everywhere! As I put my hand on the handle the bird flew out and Summer was waiting for him. Pounce! Summer got him in her mouth. The feathers were everywhere.
“Summer, Summer let him go”, I screamed. “I will kill you”. I shouted as I ran up the garden trying to avoid the dog shit in the grass. At the top of the garden there was an old car and Summer ran under it. I had to sit down in the wet grass and try to coax Summer to come out. After what seemed like ages Summer came out and let Tweety go. I had to work fast to catch him but I did eventually. The poor bird’s heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to burst. He was biting me with fright. I ran inside the house and closed the door so I could let him go.
I did not know that birds cannot recognise glass, with the result he kept flying straight into the window and crashing down to the floor again and again. Crash, bang and down again. Trying to get my head together I quickly grabbed the top of his cage and placed it over him on the floor. Looking around the kitchen I put my hands to my face, not believing what had happened. The place looked like a war zone, something you would see on television. For two or three seconds I couldn’t move. I went into the hall to get the brush when I noticed the phone still on the floor. I picked it up, surprised to find Anto was still there laughing at me.
“It’s not funny” I croaked. “You can clean this mess” I screamed. “You got the stupid dog”! “I’m not cleaning it, I don’t know where to start! I don’t care. The bird will die. What will I tell Paula? She will kill me. Jesus what will she say?” When I finished giving out to Anto, I went to my sister across the road to try and relax. I was up to high doh when I got there. She made me a cup of tea and I told her I didn’t know whether Tweety was alive or dead. At that point I did not care. My house was in such a state. Just then she ran across to check on Tweety. I was pleased to hear he was alive. Then I was able to return to my house and face the music. Tweety was very quiet, he didn’t sing and he didn’t eat very much but apart from having no tail feathers left and a circle of feathers missing from over his eye, he was grand, well alive at least.
I was so worried about telling Paula I was thinking of what I could say to ease the pain. I believe that distressed birds pull their feathers out, I could have put the feathers in the bottom of the cage and said he was distressed, missing them. When Anto came home from work he told me he never stopped laughing all day.
The day arrived when Paula was coming around to collect Tweety. Unknown to me Anto had told Paula but swore her to secrecy. When Paula called I put on a great show. I carried on as if nothing happened. “We loved having him, anytime you need us to take him again, it would be no bother. We had no problems what so ever”, I lied. When packing Tweety and her belongings into the car, Paula wisely commented on how depressed Tweety looked. I knew then that Anto had already told her. I had to reply, “Well wouldn’t you be too if you were chased, ate, trapped, crashed and walloped in the space of a day of being left in a house with peering eyes!”