Thursday, August 7, 2008

Our Mockingbirds Mimic the Sound of Shock Collars, and other stories

So this post is about pets. If you live near me, you might've heard most of these stories but since I have new readers from facebook I thought I'd record some of the weird and funny stuff that's gone on with our animals.

It's inspired by the fact that I have 4 baby kitties living in my siding. Well, they probably are living under the house, but they get to the pier-and-beam hiding place by going through a hole they've dug just under the siding. This morning, the little devils got brave and decided to come visit Allie, who was standing guard at the door. I went to get a cup of coffee when I heard "Mew mew mew mew mew" -- very much like "Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey." Much to my surprise, there were 4 furry bodies about 3 inches long with front paws pressed against the glass, talking to me.  I watched them for a bit before attempting to open the door, and the bravest of them, whom I've named Wormtail, began hissing at the doormat. It's a rough green cheap thing and I believe he'd never seen such texture before. So when he put his front paws on the mat he leapt up in the air like it'd bitten him on the feet, making him explode into a small puff of hair and eyes.  The other, who has named himself Marlow (sometimes cats do that for me) is afraid of marigolds. Marlow would lean very close to the little orange flower and mimic his brother, fluffing instantly into a small round spiky-haired devil possessed with the need to put this annual in its place.  They continued to relax and explode on and off again all morning long. I've had to force myself to go to work and stop watching the charade. 

But really this is just one in a series of odd animal behavior that's happened in this house. When we first moved in, our 100-year-old dwelling needed more than a little work.  Just below the dryer connection, for instance, "something" had knawed a small hole in the wall that we knew we'd eventually have to patch.  But when I was carrying a box of stuff to unpack and came across a small cat that wasn't there before -- standing in my living room, though all the doors were closed -- I dropped the box and turned to Andrew, saying, "If that hole is big enough to let a cat in my living room, I believe it's time to patch it."  The feral feline just cocked its head and looked at me, as if to say, "Hey. Food?"  

The picture at the top of this post is of our devil-dog Brinkley, a golden retriever who never grew out of the terrible twos.  He's an absolute maniac.  After he was hit by a truck he thought he could catch, a miscalculation that got him a broken leg and us $2,000 in vet bills, he was put on a radio collar so that he could play ball in the backyard while not being tempted to leave it to pursue another vehicle.  (Although Brinkley's wild, he's clever. A month of training with the collar and he now almost never leaves the yard, so the system has been dismantled.) Apparently the mockingbirds who live in the back yard paid close attention to the warning beep the collar gave before shocking Brinkley in the neck because when he returned to his pen, they would watch him as he barked and yipped at them and would respond to his frustration by mimicking the warning sound from the shock collar.  This would cause Brinkley to randomly throw his body the ground and not move.  A very odd site to see from the house, where you can't hear the birds. 

His life companion, Sierra, a mild-mannered sweet mutt who keeps him company, likes to agitate this entire process by biting him in the legs while he tries to stay still.  She finds this to be an amazing amount of fun. 

Meanwhile, inside, Chloe our tortoise shell cat snores like a fat man and sleeps on a pillow with the covers over her little furry shoulders.  And she washes her hands at the sink.  Her friend Allie's only quirk is that she eats rubber bands. 

Sometimes, when I walk past the window and see the baby kitties hissing at my flower pots, Brinkley throwing himself on the ground to avoid vindictive avians, Sierra biting him on the ankles while yipping, and Chloe snoring like an overweight sumo wrestler, I think I'm entirely too underqualified to operate this zoo. 


Anna said...

There's a mockingbird outside my dad's office that has learned to mimic the sound of my dad's cell phone ring. My dad is not amused.

Lisa said...

You forgot the part about how sometimes Chloe sits on the arm of the couch and, the way she leans and stares at you, she looks exactly like Larry King.