My first pet was a crow.
A dirty, diseased, terminal crow.
If you’re waiting for this troubling anecdote to become light hearted and uplifting. I regretfully say you will be sorely disappointed.
I had my first pet for a day before fate saw fit to diverge our respective paths. Granted it’s not your typical story where I, a young and impressionable girl, would find some stray yet adorable dog I naively bring home before my parents throw it back out and promptly drive me to the doctor for a rabies vaccine. If only it were that simple.
It was a typical Saturday morning. A relatively nice day. I’d say I was about seven years old, and like all seven year olds on a Saturday morning, I was watching cartoons. My fictional and two dimensional heroes would go on daring missions. The bad guys were apprehended, the crowds cheered their names and I looked on in envy. I was gazing out the sitting room window thinking about my idols and posing important philosophical questions, as any seven year old would. It was at that moment I saw a crow just standing in our driveway. There was nothing exceptional about said crow. Regular on all accounts. However, there was a vacant and general look of confusion on this dear, diseased (though I did not know it at the time) crow’s face. ‘Twas the vacant look on this beaked creature that made me relate to it so much in that moment as I too was just staring into space. I felt as though I was beholding a kindred spirit.
A feeling washed over me and I knew I had to approach this crow. Like sleeping beauty and that cursed spindle, I was compelled to interact with the crow, but I didn’t quite understand why. I was sure it was to be my origin story. The moment that all superheroes could point back to and say ‘aye, that was when greatness was thrust upon me.’
Next thing I know, I have left the safety of my home and am now attempting to approach the crow. Each timid step towards it invited its flight away from me. But to my surprise, it didn’t budge. I immediately thought to myself, “This crow is now my pet. I shall keep the crow.” Again, being seven years old, I had not factored in the logistics of keeping such a pet. A pet that would need flights instead of walks. A pet that would induce a quizzical expression or two when brought to the vet.
I had decided on the name “Dusty” for my new crow friend. It became apparent that Dusty was no ordinary bird. It continued to survey its surroundings with erratic head movements and refused to leave. I saw this as the work of divine providence, blissfully unaware of the fact that Dusty was not in my driveway by choice and fondness of my company, but simply because it couldn’t fly and had probably lost all sense of where and what it was. At the whim of my older sisters, Dusty was fed whatever stale bread was about to be thrown out. Their minds were on rehabilitation, so this rotten crow could stop fanning the flames of wonderment in me, whereas my mind as more so on providing sustenance for Dusty for the many adrenaline fuelled adventures we would undoubtedly have together. I thought of my beloved cartoons. I needed a stalwart sidekick to help me when times were tough, share in my triumphs, and lend me a wing when needed.
My parents had long ruled out the possibility of us getting what one would consider a normal household pet. I considered it fate that God had led an unusual pet and sidekick to what was literally my doorstep. I had not disclosed these thoughts to my parents, lest they attempt to dissuade me. Even then I was adamant that their attempts at sedation would not be enough to halt the obligatory journey of self-discovery that all heroes undergo with their animal best friend in tow.
We had the best friendship a human and crow could have…for about an hour. I went to get a box for my new crow friend to stay in and when Dusty got into the box, my crow chum didn’t quite take to it. Dusty began to convulse. Its spine arched suddenly and it simultaneously defecated and vomited in the box before it went limp and presumably died. Well let’s just say I hope it was dead, because we buried it after. I ran inside and informed my parents that my pet crow had just vacated the land of the living. They initially wrote this off as just a seven year old exercising their wild if admittedly slightly disturbed imagination, so it would be a tad bit redundant to say they were a little horrified and taken aback when their innocent seven year old presented them with a crow that was covered in any and all excrement that come from a crow. After a moment of stunned silence, my father mumbled something about getting the shovel.
Dusty shook off its mortal coil and took its leave from my life, along with any and all aspirations I had of following in the footsteps of my heroes. Which, as a child with grand plans for her future as a hero with a kickass sidekick, kind of pissed me off a bit. Dusty’s final place of rest is at the side of my house beneath a shrub that has since overgrown and threatens to consume the entire left portion of the garden.
I spent my first hour of that Saturday watching cartoons, the next one with my new pet crow/sidekick, the next was spent burying and mourning my dear departed pet crow/sidekick, and then under the advisement of my parents, I spent the next hour washing my hands in soap and bleach.