Category Archives: Animals

Pigeons Rumble in the Bronx

It's a pigeon.One day when I was a little kid a construction crew showed up in our yard and started building something. I hadn’t heard my parents talking about it and had no idea what was going on. Several days later a building the size of long, skinny garage appeared on the northwest side of our house. It was a pigeon house.

My dad has raised pigeons on and off for most of his life, something I’ve never understood. The pigeon house was emptied of pigeons more than ten years ago to make way for a 1968 Fairlane, and the building was sold along with our house earlier this year. But my dad is eyeing the playhouse on their new property in Kansas as an ideal pigeon house. It’s only a matter of time before the dust flies again.

But as weird as my dad’s hobby is, he’s not alone. Apparently the skies above New York are a constant battleground for pigeon fanatics. The Brooklyn Pigeon Wars chronicles the story of pigeon owners in New York who release their pigeons and hope to score birds from other flocks. The birds innate homing sense grapples with their flock mentality. As the flocks mix birds return home with other flocks, racking up wins and loses for their owners.

It’s a bizarre and somehow cool take on a hobby that’s always been dust and genetics in my mind (take a look at the picture gallery for a glimpse of feathers, poop and dust — as well as some graceful flying). If my dad does succeed in converting the playhouse, I think he should start the Great Bend Pigeon Wars. Even if there aren’t any other pigeons in Great Bend, his flock could battle the wild birds at Cheyenne Bottoms.

There’s nary an animal alive that can outrun a greased Scotsman

The stray cat visited again tonight, and she’s a beast. We were sitting on the deck with Speak and there she was in the middle of the yard. While hunched down her back end looked twice as wide as her front end. But it wasn’t fat. As she approached we could tell she was lean, just enormous. She had the build of a bobcat, and I wonder if that’s just coincidence, or if this is really a hardened stray cat. She wasn’t afraid of us, and definitely wasn’t afraid of Speak. Speak was going nuts.

The cat wandered around the yard for a while, climbed under the deck and explored the garage. We didn’t exactly shoo the cat away, but we didn’t really encourage her either. At one point I tried to pet the cat, and she arched her back, trying to push herself into my hand. Then she stood up on her back legs, half jumping into the air, trying to get me to pet her. I’ve never seen a cat do that.

After some more wandering, the cat left the way she came.

Your dog isn’t the problem. You are!

And tomorrow brings more productiveness, scattered with moments of puppy watching. Today felt more productive than yesterday, thanks to Speak’s willingness to lay down and nap. The walk to the park and run through the field probably helped. It’s like I’m raising a freaking child and plotting to wear the kid out so I can have a few minutes of sanity.

Owning a dog is bringing about some disturbing behavior. I now have all manner of voices to speak to Speak in, ranging from excited reward voice to cajoling command voice. They all sound incredibly stupid. On the plus side, a dog is a good excuse for all behavior that would appear completely abnormal if you were by yourself. Making up songs and speaking in strange voices is completely acceptable, though stupid looking, if there’s a dog in the vicinity. With no dog you’re booking yourself a trip to the loony bin.

Um, take a walk. Sniff that other dog’s butt. See? He does exactly what I tell him.

Day three with Speak the Mighty. Potty training is coming along, though there are the usual hiccups (note to self: don’t get Speak excited while sitting on the couch). Hopefully the cute puppy pictures will slow down a bit. I really can’t help myself at this point. What can I say, the camera loves him.

[cute puppy pictures moved to Spacebar, Speak’s blog]

I almost had the boy eating dog food!

An unwritten prenuptial in my marriage involved getting a dog at some point. After two and a half years, we now have a dog. Say hello to Speak the Mighty. He’s a little over two months old, and is a Poodle/Pekinese mix. At this point he fits nicely in the palm of your hand, and is little more than a ball of fur. I’ve yet to hear him bark, though he whimpered quite a bit during the ride home.

True to the rules I set down about what kind of a dog we could get, Speak is not able to eat me. I don’t think there’s much he could eat. In fact, the stray cat we’ve seen around our house could definitely take Speak. If he doesn’t lick them to death.

And thus we’ve become dog owners. I hereby promise, before God and you readers, to never dress Speak in a dopey dog sweater or treat him as our first born. Yikes. What am I getting myself into?

Snowball II

Last night we had a visitor to our back porch. We looked up from watching a movie to see a gray and white cat sitting at the screen door. We paused the DVD and went to the door. The cat freaked out and backed off, walking with this strange convulsive dipping motion. Wary, the cat backed off onto our deck, but slowly came back as I opened the screen door. Abby went to get a dish of water, and while I crouched next to the partially open door, the cat actually tried to waltz right in. When I would move or approach it, the cat would take off warily. But when I just sat there the cat wanted to come in, and I actually had to push it back.

Unfortunately the cat took off when we tried to come out onto the deck with it. But I’m hoping the cat will be back. I’d love to have a stray outdoor pet. One way or another I’ll get a cat.

Of course that will last until we get a dog.

Fox in the Parking Lot

I saw a fox today, trotting behind the parking lot of my apartment. It was orange with the bushy tail, just like you see in wildlife postcards. I never imagined there would be a predator that size in the city. It’s not like it’s big or anything, but it’s something to keep the rodent population in check (one of which decided the corner of my office would be a good place to spend the evening).

I lost my cat tonight.

I got a cat tonight. For about ten minutes. My wife and I went for a walk and we stumbled upon this black cat. We kept walking and the cat started following us. It followed us for four or five blocks and around three corners. I named it El Gato and it was our cat. Then a dog sitting in a window started barking at El Gato, and El Gato decided to stare the dog down. We kept walking and El Gato never caught up. I lost my cat tonight. I’m very sad.

Trip to the Zoo

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! I find it rather odd that a trip to the zoo in almost any city will yield such wildlife. I just don’t think a giraffe would want to live in Minnesota. And isn’t San Diego a crappy place for a Polar Bear? I went to the zoo today, and for once I was able to appreciate the animals. The grace and poise of the tiger. The agility of the snow leopard. The brute force and human-like qualities of the gorilla. And the giraffe

Rabbits Stay Put

Have you ever noticed that if the rabbits just stayed put, you’d never know they were there? Instead they jump when you pass by, scamper off a few yards and pause again. They’ve completely given themselves away and now you know where they are. But they just sit there, starring at you. If they had never moved in the first place you wouldn’t have even seen them.

(I wish that was a metaphor for something, but I haven’t figured it out yet)