Dove-releasing business gives wings to special days
PETER O'Toole from Noosa believes he has one of those jobs people search for their whole lives.
For the past 12 years, Peter has owned and run White Doves of Noosa, a dove-releasing business on the Sunshine Coast.
"I would do it even if I wasn't getting paid," he said.
"I feel very privileged to be part of it."
Peter has helped countless couples officially celebrate their love, given solace to the grieving and honoured commemorations with a gesture of peace.
With Anzac Day next week, Peter said he would be busy with memorials using his service.
He said people cherished the symbolism of releasing doves and it offered a unique feeling of closure.
"The photos of a person releasing a dove, representing the departing of the spirit, is one of the most treasured photos they have," Peter said.
"At a funeral, when people release doves they come back to me and say I do feel something, I feel like the spirit was released.
"The same as at the weddings. (Couples) always say they're the most precious photos we've got.
"Often it's the most photographed part of the event."
Part of the magic of releasing doves is ensuring the birds are well trained and placid.
Peter said it took years to perfect the personality and homing skills of a flock of doves.
"They have got strong homing instincts, they always come back, but they do need to be trained," Peter said.
"You do have to source and breed the right sort of bird. It's taken a long time to improve and hone it all.
"And also with training them, they need to be used to people, not afraid of people.
"They don't mind being picked up and handled - they're probably better at (being handled) than cats."
Peter said he had one special pair that was perfect for couples at weddings.
"I've got one pair and they're so good with people. They don't mind crowds and music," Peter said.
"They're so intelligent, I'm just amazed."
He said the nature of doves made them great pets and he had a select few that had become part of the family.
"I've got a flock of them, then I've got another six or seven as pets that I've hand-raised," Peter said.
"I've got one in particular that wants to be with me all the time. She follows me around - she just wants my company.
"She'll follow me inside the house and my wife says, 'What's that dove doing inside again?'
"They make wonderful pets. The birds are very good."
Visit www.whitedovesofnoosa.com.au for more information.