When Xavier Bouget, 80, goes on a bike ride, a majestic white pigeon climbs on his hat. When he tinkers in his workshop, she pecks at drills and nails. And when he waters his garden, she watches him from his shoulder.
Bouget, a retiree from the Brittany region in northwestern France, befriended the bird, which he named Blanchon, when it was a chick and now he accompanies everywhere, sitting on his shoulder or walking beside him.
“There is a desire to be together, because it feels good,” says Bouget, who before his retirement worked in the building materials business.
The couple first met when Bouget was near his home and saw a small “almost featherless” pigeon fall to the ground as it tried to escape from a cat. He came home thinking: “another living being who is going to have a bad day”.
But when he mentioned what he saw to his wife, she asked him why he hadn’t picked up the bird. So he came home.
“I came back with Blanchon in my pocket,” he said.
People often ask him how he managed to train the bird to be so tame, he said, but he replies that there is no trick, just mutual respect.
Any human can relate to an animal, he said, “once he respects the animal for what it is, it is a living creature that shares the Earth with us.”
“You just have to be patient, understand how they live and adjust to their lives, because they will adapt to yours. ”