Gigi the Grouse on Mia's garage wall Photo by: Randy Sales

 by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —

In April I received an anguished email…..: 

Hi Susan,

We have a situation I could use advice on….Gigi the Grouse.

For about a month Gigi has been hanging around the house. She walks right up to us and Jasper the dog.  A few times she has jumped on Jasper. She waits at the back door for us, follows us on walks with Jasper and hangs around the garage if we leave the door open. Now I have to check to make sure she isn’t by or behind the car. She will talk grouse talk at us as though we understand and she would eat out of my hand if I fed her which I don’t. I’m concerned for her safety and wonder if she has a mental or emotional problem.

Any advice?   Mia

This, is a fascinating state of affairs. Why would a wild grouse walk right up to a human without preamble, and adopt her? And insist on it.

I met with Mia to explore this further. “She just arrived one day and walked right up to me. She is there at 6:30 every morning, sitting by the kitchen and waiting. If she misses me at the back door she sits on the wall by the garage and waits, looking in the garage window. Waiting for action. Often though she just appears and joins us on walks down the road (us being Mia and her black Labrador Jasper). Long walks, running behind and beside us zig-zagging as grouse do. Last time she was with me I got scared because some other dog walkers were on the road and she was doing her little zig zag run behind us. After that I went to the neighbors to tell them about and to take care of her.

Gigi blends in to the home ‘pack’ | Photo by Randy Sales

“She is always in the garage. She is gone at night but in the morning there she is, waiting. If I sleep in, she goes around to the bedroom and looks in the window. I wake up and there is a grouse staring at me. I am being stalked by a grouse!”

I talked with Ralph the caretaker. When I told him what I was calling about his immediate reaction was “Oh! Gigi!” As if she were a rock star. He said, “It’s remarkable. It seems like she has figured out Mia’s schedule. She is at the breakfast room in the morning; the office door in the afternoon. She waits outside the garage to join Mia and Jasper for walks. She is gone at night but every morning she is back, waiting.”

Left to right: Gigi waits in the garage, Gigi waits outside a door, Gigi hangs out with Jasper, Gigi waits outside the windows | Photos by Randy Sales

In response to Mia’s asking for help what to do, I wrote to Penelope Smith, a telepathic interspecies communicator (see podcast)  to see what she might have to say. She replied: “The little grouse has suffered an injury (some kind of blow that really shook her up) and she wants protection. She doesn’t feel like she can take care of herself in the wild anymore. She is choosing a domesticated life for now. She wants to be close to a good person and animals who would be kind to her. It may be that if she gets stronger, she could be wild again, but doesn’t look like it now. There is no need to feed her as she is getting what she needs naturally.”

For reference to Gigi wanting protection, while I was talking to Ralph he mentioned twice, “She has this little tuft of feathers sticking out from her neck as if a fox or something tried to get her.”

Gigi raised poignant questions for Mia (which many of us have faced in our own experiences with wildlife.)  Do I feed her? Does she need it? Is that why she’s here? Will she starve? She keeps staring in the windows and waits on the doorsteps. Should I let her in? Ask Fish and Game to catch and relocate her? What is the right thing to do?

Politically correct thinking says the wild should stay in the wild. What we are not taught as well, is how to listen to what the animal wants and needs. We are taught instead that our ideas are correct and this puts blinders on us. The “wild should be wild” is a philosophy and may not apply in all cases. There is a long history in our environmental thinking that the wild and humans should stay apart but it is a point of view, not necessarily the way things should always work. And if Gigi chooses a semi-domestic life – how very interesting and full of rich possible learnings.  Remember – she is the pursuer in this case! And it is she who has opened herself up to humans. 

I was listening to a DVD by Joseph Campbell last night and he was comparing philosophies and ways of thinking between cultures. He said the white man lives by “ideas” and doesn’t attend enough to what he calls the “wisdom” body that doesn’t come from the head but from a much deeper place – the place where I believe Penelope comes from when she connects with animals for example. How wonderful for us and the Earth if we all learned to do this!

I called after several weeks to see how things were going. Ralph said, “She hasn’t been around for a while.  I’m afraid she’s gone. There has been a lot of heavy construction just above Mia’s property – a road for four new houses. There are workers, perhaps their dogs, a lot of noise…..”

Some thoughts:
There is less and less land, and we as a species are becoming more tuned to wildlife and our interconnectedness. Is it time for a new paradigm of humans and wildlife coexisting in light of new realities, and Gigi is serving as a pioneer for this new way? Companionship. Mutual enjoyment. Leaving space for one another without possession or dominance. 

Mia is not a person without influence. Is Gigi a messenger of some sort? Mia is also an exceptionally kind person, as Penelope mentioned Gigi was looking for. Perhaps she chose well? 

In conversation, Mia mentioned that she didn’t even really like birds. This, has changed. Mia mentioned “if she isn’t around I will miss her.”  Now that she isn’t around as least for the past several weeks, Mia emailed, “I miss her. I feel the loss of her every day.” Ralph mentioned that he was a hunter but that he really really liked Gigi. You could feel his protectiveness towards her. What transformation has this little bird wrought?

Left to right: Gigi hangs out in the garage, Gigi showing off her colors, Gigi takes a walk | Photos by Randy Sales

I wrote this to share a remarkable story with all of you who read this. What do you think is going on? Do you have similar stories? This is a good conversation for our online conversation as well – we will add it. Register for the conversation here.

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