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Joe & Pudge: a man and his pigeon

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:30 PM EDT
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ELLSWORTH, Maine (WABI) - Usually, you choose your pet. But sometimes, your pet chooses you.

That’s the story of Joseph Lee and Pudge, who met in Ellsworth six weeks ago, when Joe was having a really bad day, and feeling lost.

“I decided to come down to the waterfront, clear my head and try to figure out what I was gonna do with my life. I was in my car and I waved him over. I just stuck my arm out the window. I did that, and he just kind of flew straight to my car. I got out and he just kind of stood there looking at me like I was crazy, but… I was kind of feeling crazy. So, we’ve just kind of been buddies ever since.”

“Buddies” might be underselling it. The two are now inseparable. Pudge goes everywhere with Joe, even on the lobster boat where Joe is a stern man. And if you’re wondering about the mess that pigeons are notorious for, well, they make a flying diaper for things like that. Also known as a “flyper.”

“It catches his poop and everything, so I don’t have to worry about cleanup. I just throw it in the washing machine when he’s done.”

As pets go, Pudge has plenty of personality, and he’s the center of attention wherever he goes.

“People don’t know what to even think when they see a pigeon on my shoulder.”

It might be fair to say that a wild pigeon isn’t the most traditional pet. But Joe says Pudge offers him the same support that any dog, any cat, or any traditional pet would.

“He does have a dog crate that’s got his bed and a little perch in there, and he sits in there next to where I sleep, and he falls asleep when I do. I was originally thinking that maybe I rescued this pigeon, but I’ve realized that having him in my life has brought me so much more hope than I ever would’ve thought, and more of a drive to continue making my life better. He saved me more than I saved him.”

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