Dog Forms Unlikely Friendship With Baby Bird

Rusty the Boxer is caring and gentle with the little bird.

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Rusty is a great surrogate parent to Birdie. Via Rusty The Gentle Giant/Facebook
Cari Jorgensen

None of us are ever really surprised when two dogs or two cats become friends. We may not even be surprised when a dog and a cat become friends. It’s when the pairing is so unlikely that the animal friendship makes us sit up and take notice.

We’ve seen a duck become friends with a dog, a raccoon befriend a dog, a rat and a dog become friends and a tortoise and a dog form a friendship (we’re sensing a theme here when it comes to dogs). And now there’s another unlikely friendship: a dog and a wild bird.

Rusty is a 2-year-old Boxer who lives with his owners, Jurgita Peciulaityte and Leon Butcher, in the Isle of Sheppey in the United Kingdom. Rusty came into their lives on Feb. 15, 2014, when he was just a puppy, Peciulaityte told

“Straightaway we knew we were in love with him,” she said.

Even though Rusty was a rather bouncy puppy, he has since calmed down and loves pets and people of all ages (especially kids, Peciulaityte said). On July 6, 2016, Rusty was wandering around the garden while Peciulaityte started on some woodworking, the Heart-Woodcrafts owner told us.

“Rusty often comes with me to the workshop. He loves spending time there. I often refer to him as my helper,” Peciulaityte said. “[On] that day he was still outside when I heard him bark. [It was a] quite excited bark… I went over to investigate and found him standing about half a meter away from the bird. [It] did not try to fly or escape from Rusty. It just sat there. So we picked him up and took him indoors to be safe.”

Posted by Rusty The Gentle Giant on Sunday, July 10, 2016

Peciulaityte and Rusty waited for Butcher to come home to hopefully put the little bird back in its nest. Instead, the couple decided to nurse the bird, now named Birdie, back to health. While taking care of the bird, Peciulaityte found that Rusty wanted to help, too.

“Rusty is such a gently boy. I knew he would not kill the bird, but I was slightly surprised by how caring and gentle he is with him. If Birdie hops under Rusty, he moves slowly and positions himself so that he could see him,” Peciulaityte told Petcha. “In some ways I expected Rusty to be like this. I know him so well and know how gentle he is. But the bird — wow, I am most amazed by it. He just adores Rusty. [He’s] not scared of him at all.”

Nursing Birdie back to health has been easy, Peciulaityte said.

“He sleeps in his little tree in the night and now is practicing flying in the day. He is such a good, little bird. It will break my heart when he leaves.”

Birdie… Birdie … Birdie …

Posted by Rusty The Gentle Giant on Monday, July 11, 2016

Rusty and his humans would like to return Birdie to the wild, but Peciulaityte hopes he’ll stay in the garden and visit Rusty, especially in case he doesn’t learn how to gather food and struggles to survive after living with humans.

“We have a Plan B,” Peciulaityte said. “We will move the plant to our porch where he can gain access to and we’ll feed him there for as long as he needs.”

In the meantime, Peciulaityte is documenting Rusty and Birdie’s friendship on Facebook, and believes that humans can learn from the unlikely pair’s friendship.

“With so much hatred and wars going on in the world, I think there is something we all could learn from this pair,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from, be kind to each other and always offer a helping hand. You never know; it may blossom into a beautiful friendship.”

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