OTTAWA, CANADA - It's fair to say that in the animal kingdom, crows invariably get a bad rap.
The noisy black birds are often viewed as a nuisance, or worse, as some kind of mysterious bad omen.
But one crow is changing all that.
'Walter' is building quite a name for himself in his Ottawa neighborhood... as a loyal and trusted family pet.
Back in the spring, the Renaud family found Walter, injured in a ditch and at death's door.
The family collectively nursed Walter back to good health, feeding him and attending to his injuries. And when it was at last time to set Walter free, they discovered that he preferred to stay right where he was, with the Renauds.
"As I walked the kids to school," Elissa Renaud recalls, "He trotted along right behind us. And I realized that he thinks he's one of us and he's going to walk the kids to school and look out for them, and he's here to stay!"
The Renauds' daughter Livia confesses that Walter is among her closest confidantes. "If I'm feeling sad I know I can tell him," Livia says, "because I know he won't tell anyone else, or secrets my friends have told me."
Livia's brother Zachary says Walter has truly found a home -- in their home. "He's like another child in our family," Zach says.
From treetop and rooftop perches above them, Walter keeps a close watch on the Renaud children. As soon as either Livia or Zachary come out of class after school, Walter is quick to swoop down and join them.
Animal experts say crows are actually among the most intelligent animal species, because they're one of the few species able to distinguish humans apart just by their facial features.
And Walter knows his family as soon as he sees them.
The Renauds realize that one day Walter may take off to find a mate, and on that day they'll wish him well.
But for now, he's simply a loyal... and loved... member of the family.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times