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On the wings of doves

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Dennis Imdieke runs Doves Are Us, releasing white homing pigeons for special occasions and memorials.

The man behind the dove release at Relay for Life has a unique hobby and business in Doves Are Us.

Dennis Imdieke has made a small business out of the practice of releasing doves at events. Most events have only one or two birds released, but Imdieke does up to 100 white doves at a time.

"The ability that I have there to let 100 go, there's probably nobody in the state who can do that, that I'm aware of, and I don't know if it's ever been done in the state before," he said. "The downside is, you gotta feed 100."

Technically, the birds are white homing pigeons. Doves and pigeons are in the same family, columbidae.

"If we use a regular dove, it would simply die," Imdieke said.

Instead, the birds return home. Imdieke's brochure says he will release birds up to 100 miles away, but he has traveled even further with them.

He said he had been racing homers since he was about 14.

The pigeons have their own personalities - some are fidgety, some are docile. They are as varied as people, he said.

Imdieke said he has done the dove release business on and off for several years. After a layoff, he decided to do more with the birds.

The prices are generally between $75-$200, depending on driving distance, the number of birds and time.

"I always had that kind of in my mind, when I hit retirement, to do that - something I like, and something, if nothing else, to support my hobby," he said.

Johnson Memorial Home sponsored Imdieke's release of 100 doves at Wadena County Relay for Life.

"Last year I was going to do it and the weather stopped it," he said.

Imdieke is a cancer survivor himself, and several years ago he started doing releases at Camp Casey for children who had survived cancer and their siblings. At first he only accepted gas money.

One of his doves was released at the funeral of Mahnomen County Deputy Chris Dewey, who was killed in the line of duty.

Baptisms, weddings, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, vow renewals, sporting events, grand openings, family reunions and memorial services are occasions listed on Imdieke's brochure.

What is his favorite aspect of the dove release?

"When I see the people's faces, how it lightens them up," he said. "At a funeral ... it takes a little weight off their shoulders."

Doves Are Us can be contacted preferably by phone at (218) 631-1378, or by e-mail at