Friday, July 8, 2011
To Kill a Mockingbird
I didn’t kill a mockingbird but I did slap the shit out of one. In the spring of 2008, a pair of mockingbirds built a nest near an entrance of the park Andy and I used. To make matters worse, the nest was near Andy’s “spot” where he used the bathroom. Dogs have their spots and tend not to go outside them. Some will hold it until they can make it to their “spot.”
The bird first announced itself by chirping loudly. It would sit on a branch close to us and chirp at us. This was not a sweety-pie songbird chirping. He was loud and abrasive. We paid it no mind and kept walking. When this didn’t work, the bird would start to fly by us. It would swoop by us and swarm around us until we reached a comfortable distance from its nest.
Within a few days, the bird escalated its hostilities and started strafing Andy. It would dive in and tap Andy on his rump. Andy would tuck his tail in fear. The chirping scared him enough but the physical assault was too much for Andy. He already had neurotic tendencies and the bird only exacerbated them. Andy, luckily, would find another spot to use the bathroom. But our problems got worse.
The bird started attacking me. Unlike Andy, I would fight back. Even though the bird would attack from the rear, I have good hearing and could hear its wings flapping right as it closed in on me. I turned around and backhanded it with my left hand. I made direct contact with it and knocked him away a few feet. I thought he would leave us alone. I was only half right.
He stopped attacking me but redoubled his efforts at Andy. I put my arm over Andy’s rump, the bird’s site of attack. Undeterred, the bird simply shifted its attack site and started popping Andy on his head. The bird further intensified its efforts by sitting on a light pole across the street and chirp loudly at us while we were waiting to cross the street to go to the park. This was an aggressive son of a bitch, and Andy was starting to shake and cower in fear. The bird would even chase us back across the street as we left the park, down the sidewalk and around the corner. He would not give up and he almost won. I came very close to letting Andy stay at my mom’s until this thing passed over. The fear almost paralyzed Andy.
Out of desperation, I took a long-stem umbrella with me during our walks. I kept it closed and would swat at the bird when he attacked Andy. After a few brushes with the umbrella, the bird fell back and would chirp loudly at us. I had to hold the umbrella over Andy or the bird would take a swipe at Andy. Otherwise, the umbrella worked. The trade-off was me looking like an eccentric nut holding a closed umbrella over my dog while we went walking.