Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Something brown and furry

Yesterday morning, while Jerry was getting ready to leave for work and I was munching on a bowl of cereal, he spotted two of our neighbors through the kitchen window.

"They're definitely talking about our yard," he said. "I can tell because Skip is pointing and Loreena is nodding and looking."

And, in suburbia, that's enough to pique even the slightest curiosity.

So Jerry kissed me goodbye and left vowing to "listen in."

Turns out, Skip saw a hawk swoop down and eat one of the little bunnies I keep meaning to toss our wilted lettuce and dried-out baby carrots to. Jerry and I have spotted them on numerous occasions and now that we finally have a little snow, their tracks are everywhere -- like a schitzophrenic pattern all over the lawn.

But while I was mourning the little bunny, Jerry immediately realized that Toby isn't much bigger. And that a hawk certainly might be stalking our yard for all of its potential prey.

It triggered a memory of a story I read not too long ago about a 12-year-old boy who had a hawk swoop down and try to snatch his little dog while they were on a walk. He fought back, clubbing the bird with his backpack until it let go. The dog required some stitches, but it survived.

So now the fence we had installed to enable us not to have to go outside in the winter with Toby on his frequent tiny-bladder trips is nearly pointless. We've vowed to go with him every time and we've armed the backyard with a shovel to fight off any predator from the sky.

But Jerry is obsessed. He's convinced the hawk is nesting in the three-story pine tree in our backyard, not the nearby mountains. And when he went on the air, he talked in-depth about our situation.

Apparently what ensued was a 2-hour-long calling frenzy from radio listeners of all types. One caller suggested we toss out some raw chicken breasts loaded with Alka-seltzer, long known to kill birds because their stomach can't release gas through burping. Another caller quickly reminded that it would be a federal crime because hawks are endangered.

So when Jerry screamed, "So, WHAT? What am I supposed to do? Let a hawk EAT my dog?" a few experts called in: one from the Department of Environmental Protection and another from the Wildlife Protection Agency.

They suggested everything from placing a decoy in the yard (something brown and furry, incidentally, just like our dog) to coating Toby in reflective surfaces or even attaching balloons to his collar so the hawk can't see him. I got a real kick out of that one. I picture Toby squirming and flipping out, trying to remove the balloons then finally rolling over on top of them, popping one, getting scared of the noise and trying to run from himself.

Not going to happen.

So, for now, we've committed ourselves to accompanying Toby on his trips outside armed with a shovel.

It's probably pretty good being buddies with the top of the food chain, but I guess that doesn't always protect dogs from becoming someone else's dinner. My take on the situation? Those hawks are just jealous. Jealous of all the delicious table scraps.


www.xanga.com/the_plainsman said...

Yes, Can't be too carefull in keeping very close to Toby, as predators are very patient once they know a meal is in the zone. Your neighborhood hawk already has had positive reinforcement with the rabbit, but good that the neighbors saw something. Besides, by contributing to the food chain, that little rabbit may have in its own way, saved Toby's life!

Tiffany said...

Luckily I don't have to worry about that up here, but I've heard of that being an actual threat.

So scary!

Anonymous said...

I've yet to comment on your new site, although I've been an ardent supporter from its inception. I loved your Xanga, and although a small part of me still mourns its loss, I'm pleased with the new course. (Surely you're thinking I'm creepy and/or stalker-esque, but I can assure you that's not the case ... I'm merely a lover of good prose.) You may remember me as the annoyingly audacious girl brazen enough to leave a Xanga comment or two correcting your grammar/spelling (This comment will be no exception, of course). Sorry.

Trivialities aside, I have a suggestion: Have Jerry arm himself with one of his three-bean concoctions and wait silently in the back yard with a decoy of some sort. When the hawk approaches, let 'er rip. Problem solved. Even bird brains know to avoid SBD's of that magnitude.

In this instance, I believe the correct word is "pique," not "peek." Additionally, it's schitzophrenic. Thanks for keeping me entertained and for putting up with my admittedly pretentious anal-retentive tendencies.

Anonymous said...

Actually, both Kelly and anonymous at 11:56 a.m. are both wrong: It's "schizophrenic," which looks odd but I assure you is correct. Anonymous is right about "pique," however.


a fellow copy editor

Kristin said...

The image of a dog with balloons tied to his collar are hysterical. Try that one just for the photo opportunities :)

novelle360 said...

*slaps head*

Pique. Duh.

Both changes made. Thanks to both my anonymous friends.

Jaime said...

I'm glad you're still posting!

mommydoodle said...

It is possible someone has a hawk as a pet in your neighborhood. If you suspect the hawk has a nest in your tree maybe you can convince it to move to another area. I know big cities employ hawks and their keepers to keep away pigeons. Loud noises scare away birds and some folks put bells on their cats to keep them from hurting birds, what about a big bell on Toby?

loren said...

lol I remember when my father found a small bird of prey an hour out of the city so he insisted on brining it to bird specialists and getting it fixed to be released again. He also works at a farm where there are like 4 or 5 different eagle nests. Amazing I say.

And good luck in keeping Toby safe. I'm quite sure he will be fine with you two around :)

Anonymous said...

Hi! I was a reader on your Xanga site. Love the change! Anyway, I don't think that all hawks are endangered, are they? I mean, I assume it would be difficult for you to determine exactly what kind you're dealing with, but I don't know that just b/c it's classified as a hawk makes it endangered. If it's not, then there might be something you could do to rid yourself of it. A nonlethal way, of course. I very well could be wrong about the endangered part, though. But that is a fear of mine too b/c I have a little dog as well. At least you've been forewarned and can plan accordingly. Thanks for the great read!

Emale said...

Ha. Please don't commit a federal crime.


Tina said...

I have a parallel experience. I have two beagles and also neighborhood hawks. One even was sitting on the fence waiting and I didn't know it. (He took off into the neighbors tree after a moment). While size is a problem, a hawk has to be pretty desperate to go after a dog. Dogs are not passive creatures and are carnivores also. If you're concerned about letting Toby out alone, make sure there are a couple of screened areas that the hawk can't get to but Toby can. Their primary food is rabbits, snakes, lizards, and small rodents.

jsi said...

Started a little riot he did. Sounds like potty training time for Toby. Maybe if you don't let him know cats do it, he could learn about the box training.
Who knows?
Hawks and bunnies and little boys - sounds like you are describing a wildlife reserve.
Umbrellas and shovels to say the least.

aprilshowers4175 said...

I JUST saw a story on TV the other day about an old lady losing her dog to a hawk.It was so sad.