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Walter Scott: Cold pointer saved bird from frozen night

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.

Columnist Walter Scott

When winter set in last week, I think it took everyone by surprise. It is not as though we were not expecting winter, but we did not think it would go overnight from balmy 50-degree days to 25 below zero wind chills. I think perhaps even the wildlife were caught off guard.

Saturday, as the temperatures dropped steadily, the dog’s trips outside became shorter and shorter. I could tell what the temperature was by how close to the back door we had yellow snow.

Billie, the poodle, makes his last call about 9 p.m. I was expecting him to want back in in less than a minute. I was in the living room, near the door, reading, and almost forgot about him. When I realized he had been out in the cold for more than 10 minutes, I opened the door to check on him.

He was on the porch, on point at something near one of the porch chairs. From the outside light near the door, all I could tell was there was something huddled against the cold that was brownish gray.

Unable to call Billie off point, I went back inside for gloves and a flashlight. When I got back, my trusty hunting dog was still on guard. The beam of the flashlight showed a mourning dove huddled up next to the house and the leg of a chair.


I reached down and picked it up, fully expecting it to be dead. It batted its shiny brown eyes at me as I carried it into the house. I knew if I left it on the porch, it would be dead by morning. If I brought it inside, it might die anyway, but at least it would not freeze to death.

My wife got a basket with a lid, a small dish of water, and a piece of bread. We lined the basket with paper towels and put the bird and the basket in the garage where Jag, the terrier, could not get to it. I did not know what was wrong with the dove, but knew by morning, things would be better or worse.

When I went to let the dogs out in the morning, I peeked into the basket. To my surprise, the dove was standing up, looking back at me. An hour or so later, when it was light outside, I took the bird in the basket to the door and opened the lid.

The sun was shining brightly on the fresh white snow. It was brutally cold, but the little bird batted his eyes a few times and took off to the nearest tree.

I do not know what its problem was the night before, but a night’s rest in the garage seemed to have fixed him up. It may have been caught off-guard by the sudden change in temperature like many of us.

The last I saw of it was when he took off from his original resting place and headed up the hill toward the timber. Hopefully, it will find a better place to spend the night.

It might not be so lucky the net time. If Jag were to find it rather than Billie, it would not turn out so well. Jag does not point.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.
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