A Dove Story
I wouldn’t say that the story of our sanctuary started with the arrival of four doves in early April 2023, in fact it’s more likely that Dotty the small black, extremely temperamental pomeranian that came to stay with us from the RSPCA in the last days of July of the same year was the catalyst that has changed both mine and Kelly’s lives so completely. Then again it could have been the barn owl that needed a safe haven soon after Dotty arrived that started our new course. Or perhaps the story goes back much further, the day that Kelly rescued Hettie and Scamp from a puppy farm, or when my cat Fairy came to live with me after having been found abandoned in a box in Birmingham. Or maybe the story starts in each of our childhoods, Kelly growing up on a farm in Somerset or me harbouring boyhood dreams of being Gerald Durrell, James Herriot or David Attenborough. Whenever the story actually started, I’m going to start with the doves, for no other reason than that’s where I would like to start.
On one of those aimless occasions when you find yourself scrolling through meaningless comments and posts on Facebook I suddenly came across a shared post of a shared post about someone desperate to rehome their doves after having had complaints from their neighbours. For some reason it took my attention probably far more than it should have done and I rashly sent a message to the chap with the doves offering to help out if I could, before I knew it I had then agreed to take four of them off his hands.
As it happened we already had a beautiful dovecot in the front garden which we had put up the previous year purely for aesthetic purposes, so there was a home waiting to be occupied and although the doves were situated in Devon I was due to do some shows down in Torquay the following weekend so it would be straightforward to pick them up homeward bound.
I arrived at the small terraced house in Tiverton just before noon on a Sunday having had a wonderful weekend of shows for Boogaloo Promotions. Unlike some promoters, Monica and Earl who run Boogaloo understand and appreciate the artistes that they book and always look after them by offering accommodation after the performances. Thus I was able to arrange to pick the doves up at a reasonable hour rather than the middle of the night, which probably wouldn’t have been so amenable to the chap getting rid of the birds, no ,matter how desperate his cause. The front door creaked open slowly and an aged face appeared.
‘Peter?’ he questioned, ‘for the doves?’. He had a pleasant but sad half smile on his lips.
‘Yes, that’s right.’ I answered.
‘I’ll be right back’ he said and disappeared back behind his door. Within a moment or two he was back holding two small cardboard boxes that evidently has once housed dog food but were now skewered erratically with holes.
‘Here you go son,’ he said handing me the boxes. At 53 it’s nice to be called son every now and again, it makes you feel that you haven’t lost all the vestiges of youth. ‘They’re lovely birds, take care of them for me. They’re all I’ve got really, well, all I had’ he continued with more than an ounce of heartache in his voice.