Posted in My children

Give us a kiss, ma!

Currently in residence in the porch light on our back patio is a family of mourning doves. If birds went to school, while your average raptor would be taking Calculus and AP Physics, your average mourning dove would be getting lost on the way to the stop for the short bus. I say this without fear of equivocation, as mourning doves are the only birds I have ever seen (multiple times) get hit in midair by cars in traffic. That takes a staggering lack of survival skills, especially in a flying critter.

Mourning doves
It’s hard to see it in this picture, but there are actually 3 birds, a mama and two babies, perched in a typically slip-shod mourning dove nest on a light that is 4”x 6” at best. The babies were born about a week apart, and given that they’re growing fast, the mother has been sitting cockeyed on the nest for two weeks, and the patio floor beneath the nest is littered with bird poop. I told the three of them that they needed to move out soon, for reasons that will soon become clear.

Our house has also recently been invaded (voluntarily) by these two new residents, who arrived May 1st. Take a good look at ‘em. You can see they’ve got evil in their little furry hearts. In front is Rocky, a little boy, and behind him is a fearless, peerless criminal mastermind, his sister Athena. They are 11 weeks old.

Rocky is a follower, and, I have to admit, a bit of a sissy. But we love him anyway. Shih Tzus weren’t really made to be butch, in any case. Athena, however, is trouble with a capital T, and this was evident to us about 15 minutes after we got her home. She is not afraid of Monte. She beats the tar out of Rocky on a quarter-hourly basis. She is not afraid of jumping off the bed, which would be the equivalent of me jumping off my roof. And she chews on everything that’s not nailed down, and some things that are. In addition to approved chewing items, she has chewed on me, on Scott, on her brothers, on doorstops, the bathroom rug, the front hall rug, my guitar stand, the baby gate, various trees, the paint on the corner of the house, the old irrigation tubes in the back yard, several electrical cords, my carved secretary desk, and a small collection of shoes. And what she can eat, she eats, including Monte’s food and a dead baby bird, but that is not the worst of it. Our darling sweet little girl is a raging coprophagic as well.

She has mostly confined herself to eating desiccated droppings Monte left behind before she arrived, so we’ve tried to keep the yard cleaned up and bought some pills to feed all 3 dogs to make them not want to eat poop. You have to wonder what is in a pill that is designed to make shit LESS palatable. The mind boggles at the absurdity. It seemed to be working for the most part, although we apparently missed a few of the older temptations, which we’ve had to forcibly remove from her mouth. What can I say? In a yard made of gravel, dried poop blends. We do what we can.

But we cannot get the birds to eat those pills. And after ignoring the bird droppings for a full week, last Thursday night Athena suddenly got very interested and started snarfing up what was there like they were canapés. Of course I screeched at her, and pushed her away from them, only to have her do an end-run around me to get right back to it. We did this 3 times before I hollered at Scott to come fetch his dogter while I fetched the hose and cleaned off the patio and gave the doves a verbal eviction notice. (They don’t read their mail.)

And despite several minutes of high-pressure hosing, she sneaked through the dog door to come right back to the scene of the crime, trying to slurp up what she could of the poop soup. I would’ve hosed her down right then as a deterrent, but I didn’t want to fall asleep to the dubious aromatherapy of wet dog. Not even a small one.

Athena has a mind of her own, does what she wants, and pays no heed to those who would prevent her from having her way and her whims, even if they do it out of concern for her well-being. And with her arrival, my mother’s curse finally comes to fruition: she told both my brother (now a father of 5) and me, “I hope you have 5 just like you.”

One is enough, thanks.



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.