Meet the Dog Who Saved a Nest of Baby Cardinals from her Brother

When this pup realized nature would put these baby birds’ lives at risk, she chose nurture.

Editor’s Note: America’s Best Pet Pals is a nationwide search for the animal friendships that make you laugh, cry, and purr. Reader’s Digest will be honoring the best in pet friendship in print, online, and on social media. This is a finalist in our “Lifesavers” category. Scroll to the bottom to cast your vote for Sandra. To see our full list of finalists, go to rd.com/petpals and vote in each category.

I was scurrying around last-minute packing for a trip and was exhausted. About to fall into bed, I went to bring my dogs in for the night, but my nearly deaf 11-year-old shepherd mix named Sandra refused to come in. In fact, she kept darting in an old doghouse that was on the patio.

She would come out when I insisted, but then go right back in. This happened so many times I realized she must have something in there—a snake, a field mouse. I finally led her into the house by the collar and decided to check out the doghouse in the daylight.

I forgot about it the next morning until I attempted to feed Sandra and she did the same thing. I bent down and didn’t see anything but old blankets. Then I heard a tiny cheep. I moved the blankets and a baby bird appeared. He had some feathers but was still too young to fly.

Apparently, Sandra had found him in the yard and put him in there for warmth and protection. When she and her brother, Bill, “adopted” my home as starving, stray pups, they relied upon their instincts to survive. Bill was a gentle, good dog, but small animals were still prey to him. Sandra must’ve known that he might’ve gone after the bird.

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Sharon Scott kneeling with her two dogsCourtesy Sharon Scott

My yard was several acres, and I had no idea where the bird’s nest was. I hurriedly began making phone calls and found a woman who was licensed to accept songbirds to be released back into nature. I drove 30 minutes to her home, dropped off the bird, and gave her a donation. She said he was a cardinal and that she had three others about his size that he could “room” with.

Whew! Not much time before my flight and I was back home letting the dogs out. I noticed Sandra was walking towards me with her head held low. I thought she was sick. She gently put her head to ground, and softly laid another baby cardinal at my feet. Another dash to the wildlife rehabilitator!

After she quit laughing, the rehabilitator asked if I’d wanted to see the baby bird’s home. She had a lovely glassed-in porch and little plastic baskets for nests. This one was gently placed with the other cardinals who would soon be released. Check your yard for a cardinal—it might be one of the babies that my dear Sandra saved!