Patti Soldavini

Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Olive’s Surprise

In animals, dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners on 04/15/2013 at 9:32 pm



Early Sunday morning as I sat at the dining room table reading the newspaper, Olive lounged across the couch in the living room below. As she always does, she drapes herself across the back of the couch in front of the windows as though she is a rare and beautiful object on public display. Which when you think about it, is true. All of a sudden I hear a loud THUD. I don’t even look up because I know exactly what it is. Another brainless bluejay bully ricochets off the window. This happens at least monthly in the Spring and Summer. Startled, Olive flies off the couch like a projectile that’s been launched by a slingshot, quickly trots upstairs and seats herself next to me. And doesn’t move a muscle. My heart melts. It’s my job to protect Olive. Even against kamikaze bluejays.



To Kill. A Mocking. Bird.

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/10/2012 at 7:31 pm

“Are you licking your lips TOO?”

That’s right. The punctuation is as I intended. A Mocking bird. As in a black bird that’s mocking my dog. Literally. Well, sort of. Why have I not learned yet? I go into the basement to get something and I see Olive not just wordlessly, but soundlessly laying in front of the sliding glass door. Not moving a muscle. Not even a fraction of an inch. Like a deer, trapped in the blinding glare of the headlights of mechanized monsters. Olive isn’t even paying attention to me as I walk by. That should have clued me in. Should have been a red flag the size of the Washington Monument. But no, I just open the sliding glass door and let her out into her very spacious fenced-in pen. You know the guns that go off at track meets? You would have thought that I pulled the trigger right next to her ear. There she goes faster than the speed of sound. She makes Olympian track stars look like spazzes. And then I see it. Something black flapping around at the far end of the pen. “Holy Shit,” I think. I immediately tear ass after Olive and reach her just as she keeps mouthing a black bird with a shiny blue-black head as it tries to jump up then stumbles back to the ground. It’s an adult and it’s obviously injured. But I don’t know whether its leg or wing is injured or perhaps it has something like West Nile Virus. “OLIVE! LEAVE IT,” I shriek. The last thing I need is Olive becoming infected with West Nile Virus from some stinking bird. I drag Olive, very unwillingly, back into the house. I go back out, pick up my tiny gardening shovel which does primary duty as a stupendous turd-flinger and I try to gently scoop up the bird so I can get it out of Olive’s pen. The first few attempts prove difficult as the damn bird keeps jumping off the shovel spade as soon as I get it on there. By the third or fourth time, I figure I have to be gentle but very, very quick. So, I place the spade under the bird and in one motion fling it outside of Olive’s pen. Let it live or die on its own like nature intended. I go back inside, shut the sliding glass door behind me and Olive remains stationed behind the glass like an Eqyptian Sphinx, unconvinced that her prey is gone. I drag her into the bathroom and wipe down her muzzle and nose like I’m a towel boy at the car wash. “CHRIST OLIVE. HAVEN’T YOU HAD ENOUGH COOTIES LATELY?”

Birds: Bush Candy

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 06/27/2012 at 9:09 pm

“Is this a candy bush?”

H-o-w  m-u-c-h  l-o-n-g-e-r  d-o  I  h-a-v-e  t-o  s-i-t  h-e-r-e  l-i-k-e  t-h-i-s? LOOK AT ALL THIS CANDY. This must be candy. It smells like candy. It looks like candy. I didn’t realize that candy grew on bushes. Can I have some candy? Oh look, a bird. Please can I have some candy? I promise I won’t eat all of them. Hey, are there any birds in there? Wait a minute. Is this how birds are born? Do they start out as bush candy?

Headless Bird Found on Cloudless Morning

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/25/2012 at 10:35 am

"So many birds and so little time."

Well, I guess it was bound to happen. How long do you think it would be before I would have to remove some dead animal carcass from my property? The answer? Not long. Upon waking, I took Olive out on a beautiful cloudless morning to empty her biological canisters. Because the weather has already been unseasonably warm, the birds are back. All of them. Thousands upon thousands of them. Ancestors, in-laws, illegitimate offspring, you name it. My yard backs up against the historic Morris Canal which nature has elegantly turned into an incredible organic aviary. You can hear bazillions of birds singing, tweeting, lyrically expressing themselves. It is actually incredibly beautiful. You’d think you were trekking through the amazon. Of course, this is titillating, frustrating and ironic for my biologically-bred “bird dog.” Poor Olive. There are so many birds zipping across the property, she doesn’t even know where to look first. Of course, this only heightens her ADHD-like attention span, distracting her endlessly from the task at hand. “OLIVE. PLEASE GO POTTY. I’D LIKE TO GET BACK IN THE HOUSE BEFORE THE NEXT SOLAR ECLIPSE.” On this particular morning though, Olive makes a beeline for some raised object on the front lawn. I can tell by the way she’s crouching like a tiger while advancing upon it, that it must be an animal of some kind. I tighten her flexi-leash so she can’t get to it before I can and lo and behold, it’s a dead robin. Wings splayed out to their sides, empty abdomen and…no head. “GOD, THAT’S GROSS,” I mutter aloud. Olive barely noses it before I pull her back. I bring her in the house and wipe off her nose and whiskers, hoping that there is no necrotic bacterial dust microscopically attached to her whiskers. I grab the “carcass” shovel and head back out to the front yard. As I scoop up the remains, I start looking around for the head by swiveling mine all around. I don’t need Olive coming back into the house with a cootified dismembered bird head in her mouth. I walk around in circles for a few minutes, before I decide that whatever killed the bird must have either taken the head as a trophy or eaten it as dessert. “I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU OLIVE, BUT SUDDENLY, I’M NOT AT ALL HUNGRY THIS MORNING.”

Weimaraner Captured in Learning Moment

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 03/18/2012 at 7:08 pm

"So THAT'S how it's done."

I love capturing Olive’s expression during a “learning moment.” Just like a child, you can actually “see” the wheels turning inside their little half-empty heads. Of course, I think she’s observing how the sliding glass door opens, but maybe she’s contemplating something entirely different. Perhaps she’s silently mapping the longitude and latitude of the American Red Robin sunbathing on the lawn inside her pen, a transgression that will not go unnoticed or unpunished by Olive. “CALM DOWN OLIVE. THE WHOLE BIRD IS PROBABLY LESS THAN 500 CALORIES. IT’S NOT EVEN WORTH USING TO PICK YOUR TEETH.” Olive’s focus breaks for a split second before she re-directs it back to the oblivious avian tart again. She remains so still, you can barely tell she’s breathing. I have a choice. I can either stand here and observe this mental challenge for another 5 minutes or I can just yell “BIS-CUIT” loudly and watch Olive race up the stairs to the kitchen faster than a Formula race car. Works every time. “HERE’S YOUR BISCUIT OLIVE. NO, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THEY DON’T COME IN BIRD FLAVORS.”

Weimaraner Vs. Comforter

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 09/06/2011 at 7:32 pm

Everytime I watch this clip, it makes me laugh. Taken when Olive was about 9 months old, it shows her fascination with the goose down comforter on the bed. Might I remind you that a goose is a BIRD, so I think that genetically, as a weimaraner, Olive is predisposed to being obsessed with this object. I have now sewn about five holes in the comforter. Each time, her teeth tear a small hole in the fabric, feathers erupt as though Mt. Vesuvius is coughing up more molten lava. I predict that by the time Olive reaches her two-year birthday, I will have sewn another three of four holes up. And trust me, I’m no Betsy Ross, and thank god for patients everywhere that I do not stitch wounds up because when I’m done with a needle and thread, it looks like something Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder sewed up. Really, my sewing skills make Dr. Frankenstein’s look like the work of a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon.

Bologna Tongue

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 08/19/2011 at 9:09 pm

"WHAT'S bologna?"

This is Olive doing an impersonation of a tube of fresh Italian bologna. Actually, she hasn’t pulled out all the stops yet. Usually, when she’s really hot, sweaty and stinky from our 60-minute walk, her tongue hangs out so far I think it might actually slide out of her head. When I start to see it grow like Pinocchio’s nose, we stop and I give her a drink from a bottle of Nestlé Pure Life water. I try to hold the plastic bottle in a way where the H2O just drips out but sometimes it drips like an I.V. bag. Olive gets supremely impatient and responds like someone who was just offered a peanut butter sandwich after having wandered the desert for the last 33 days without water. She starts grabbing the tiny neck of the bottle with her molars as though she is actually trying to twist the bottle open. I tip the bottle at a  30-degree angle and water starts pouring into her mouth like an infant geyser. She starts choking a bit but she won’t stop drinking. I pull it away after she’s gotten a mouthful and we continue on our walk. Olive goes back to scouting the sidewalk with her nose and the thought occurs to me, “If dogs have super olfactory powers and can smell its master’s DNA from miles away, then why do they shove their nose right into a lawn cigar or bird shit or whatever foul smelling object they find?  When dogs do that with their super powers, it must be an incredibly overpowering experience for them. They must become intoxicated from drawing in a multi-note bouquet with a nose that can suck shingles from a roof. I imagine that our walks everyday must feel like an olfactory treasure hunt to Olive. I wonder if she excitedly anticipates what scents she’ll encounter on each walk, much like a child anticipates going to the toy store. ‘LOOK MOM! A ROASTED DEAD FROG. CAN I SMELL IT? HUH? HUH? (And yes, we did encounter a flattened dried out frog on the sidewalk the other morning.) Olive also seems to be unusually attracted to the intestinal splatter from birds. (Big surprise.) I wonder if she knows it’s bird shit. I usually let her casually sniff each object without getting too intimate with it, but today I drew the line at a suspicious looking purple balloon, inflated with what may have been one and a half breaths of fetid air. “FORGET IT OLIVE. IT LOOKS LIKE SOME COKE HEAD’S STASH. MAYBE IT DROPPED OUT OF HIS COLON.” Olive looks at me for a second like I’m crazy, then continues marching forward. She can’t wait until we pass the strip mall down the street where she’s sure to find the back-end of a tossed burrito or some other cheap fat and cholesterol-laden jewel that escaped some human’s piehole.

Olive and The Keets

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/19/2011 at 8:53 pm

"Lime. My favorite flavor."

As many times as Olive and I have been meandering the aisles of the local pet superstore, it never occurred to me to bring her down the “Bird Aisle” to see her reaction. Probably because we don’t even make it five feet inside the door and people are fawning all over Olive. And then I usually have to keep children from molesting her. In their excitement, they begin groping her as though she is the canine incarnation of Justin Bieber. Olive takes it all in stride, happy just to have a crowd of tiny humans orbiting her universe. We check out the treats aisle and I consider buying Greenies because I’m sure Olive would love sharpening her pearly whites on them but then I remember how Idgy vomited up huge chunks of them and move on. As we make our way down the toy aisle, Olive goes into olfactory overdrive and starts nosing through the toys nearest to the floor, occasionally picking something up and trying to make a run for it like she’s just pilfered a piece of blueberry pie from a diner and the cook is chasing her down the street. This time, the proverbial light bulb materializes above my head and I say, “OLIVE. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SOME BIRDSSSSSS?” She immediately snaps to attention like an Airforce cadet and fixes an intense gaze on me. “I TAKE THAT AS A YES.” We approach the dozens of parakeets (all green for some reason; maybe they are cheaper in bulk colors) encased in their acrylic aviary and Olive’s reaction is priceless. She appears to be stunned. Shocked that so many birds are in such close proximity to her. I can’t decide whether she is counting them or calculating their caloric value. She watches them flitter about for a few seconds before jumping up and raking her big paws down the front of the acrylic window, whining ever so slightly. “ARE THESE LIME FLAVORED?” Olive wonders. I wonder if I’m being a little cruel, but this is too funny. The birds don’t seem to give a shit; they seem completely nonplussed by the sight of this giant grey monster staring at them and then jumping up against the front of their “house.” Olive, not surprisingly, doesn’t want to leave. “LET’S GO OLIVE BEFORE WE GET BUSTED FOR PARAKEET HARASSMENT.”

The Art of Olive

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/07/2011 at 7:35 pm

"Tracy, now I'd like to try something DIFFERENT."

“Oh my God, my portraits are ready for review. I CAN’T WAIT! Tomorrow Patti and I go back to Tracy’s to see them. I hope they’re better than the ones Patti took during “The Making Of” with her crappy little digital brownie. Did someone say BROWNIE? Am I drooling? Do you think I’m cute? I wonder where Patti will display my pictures. I hope I don’t eat them. I liked my photography session, it was fun. Tracy is nice too. Although 90 minutes was pushing it. I have a short attention span you know. Can I have an ice cube? I’ll bet that BIRDS don’t get their pictures taken like this. Geez, my nails are long. PATTI, WHEN DO WE GO TO THE SALON TO GET MY NAILS DONE? She’s ignoring me. She’s probably sitting on top of my porcelain water bowl in that tiny room that she always closes the door to. What DOES she do in there? I like sweets. Do you have any? Where was I? No, not metaphorically, literally. I hope I look beautiful in my portraits. Patti says I look breathtaking. I don’t know what that means, but she beams when she says it so it must be good. She sure does love me. I love her more than I love chasing birds. Was that my stomach growling?”

Sign Language

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/07/2011 at 2:08 pm

"To all the BIRDS."

“Oh, I understand sign language all right. Is it ironic or redundant for me to flip the bird to all the birds who do fly-bys while I’m crossing the front lawn? Or, is it both?

A Bird in The Bush

In dogs, humor, pets, weimaraners, writing on 07/03/2011 at 6:30 pm

"Could I be any more BORED today?"

I don’t know who’s more bored today, Olive or me. It’s been raining all day, truly the kind of grey, hazy summer day that most people living outside of New Jersey associate with New Jersey more often than they should. The only time we’ve been outside today is when Olive has had to drop brown trout. Increasingly, she is distracted from this biological need by the calling of another higher order need. The genetic need to capture the warm orange-breasted American Robin nesting in the middle of the purple-flowering Hydrangea bush in our front yard. Olive’s approach is the same every time. She makes a beeline for the bush but as we approach it she begins to slow down, lowering her body into a crouching position like a tiger that has just spotted an obese Peccary with four broken legs. She makes her move, scooting around to the side of the bush that the bird emerged from the last time we were out. Olive frantically starts looking for the bird, head bobbing up and down like a bobblehead doll, sure that it will fly out from this direction where she can just snatch it in mid-flight. And she’s half-right. Suddenly the elusive Robin shoots out the side of the bush right past Olive’s hard-at-work nose, cutting through the air like Zorro’s sword and coming to rest atop the clay-colored shed in our backyard. Far enough away from Olive’s quivering jaws, but close enough to keep an eye on the Tiffany blue eggs laying unmolested in the veiled nest. A few nearby Robins zip close to Olive from multiple directions as though they are performing strafing maneuvers. Probably relatives. Olive is momentarily stilled as she watches this display of bravado. This is a good moment to re-focus her on her bowels, so I lead Olive away from the scene of this domestic disturbance. As we walk away, Olive repeatedly cranes her neck behind her just to make sure she will not miss the bird’s return… and another opportunity to gobble an afternoon snack. “GO POTTY OLIVE. I THINK I SAW LIGHTNING. WE HAVE TO GET BACK INTO THE HOUSE BEFORE WE LIGHT UP THE NEIGHBORHOOD.” She must sense the tiniest bit of apprehension in my energy, so she goes quickly. As we make our way back inside, Olive makes one last desperate pass past the bush. Maybe she just wants scrambled eggs for dinner. I wonder though, do you think she’ll feel inadequate if this genetic need to catch birds is never fulfilled? And if a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, what the hell is a bird in the bush worth?

Attack of The Bird Dog

In weimaraners on 05/27/2011 at 8:08 am

"I want my PRIZE."

Well, it was bound to happen some day. My bird dog got a bird. Not quite. Almost. Very very, close. Depending on what your definition of “got” is. Realizing that she was much too quiet all of a sudden, I go outside just in time to see her nosing, mouthing and pawing at a baby Eastern Meadowlark that had apparently tumbled out of its nest underneath the deck. Now, she clearly has it in her mouth but isn’t quite sure what to do next. She is very clear however, that she does NOT want to drop it as I instruct her. “MY PRIZE. MY PRIZE.” she seems to be saying. “OLIVE. DROP IT. DROP IT. DROOOPPPPP ITTTTT,” I yell. The mother bird has been driving Olive nuts for the past few weeks, shooting out from its nest and across Olive’s path whenever I let her out the sliding glass doors. With great difficulty, I drag Olive back into the house. She is half out of her mind. Trying to close the door without letting Olive sneak back out is like trying to restrain a tsunami with a sheet of Kleenex. I make my way over to the baby bird cautiously, not sure how grossed out I’m going to be by what I find. The tiny bird is cowering in the corner trying to hop away as I approach. Even this it seems to find a bit difficult. However, all in all, it seems to be in pretty good shape for a living creature that cracked its way out of an eggshell and ended up inside a dog’s mouth. Its feathers look a little skeevy; I see angry reddish pink patches of flesh on its back. It is unfortunately, probably a bit traumatized, but as I stand there observing it, it does not seem to be seriously injured. I hear chatty twittering behind me and look around to see the baby bird’s sibling, hopping around like a tiny brown pogo stick, testing its wings, sputtering through the air like an old double-winged airplane during barnstorming season. It actually seems to want to check on the welfare of its less fortunate sibling. Meanwhile, Olive has been jumping up and down raking her paws across the sliding glass doors and barking, hopelessly tangling the drapes. I don’t think I’ve heard her bark quite this insistently before. She is pissed. “I DID MY JOB,” she barks over and over. I look up and the mother bird is now back sitting in her nest. “AND WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU WHILE THIS WAS GOING ON? I ask. “One of your children is in this corner and the other is over there,” I point. “And if you had any more, I don’t know where they are.” “AND WHERE THE HELL IS YOUR HUSBAND?” I add, in an equally accusatory huff. I open the door just enough to slink back in without letting Olive get out. She tries to of course, but my body blocks her. Later on, I go back outside to check on the bird. Both Orville and Wilbur are now hopping and sputtering around Olive’s pen, trying to learn how to fly. Both will live. At least one will tell its grandchildren that part of the process of being born is ending up inside the mouth of a big grey dog.




In weimaraners on 04/05/2011 at 8:37 pm

"Want to hear me YODEL?

Olive is quite the vocal pooch. The deep, basso profundo growl she sustains when expressing her displeasure at a bird trespassing in her airspace. “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY SIGHT OR I’LL SNATCH YOU RIGHT OUT OF THE AIR AND EAT YOU ALIVE!” Or the yearning hauntingly sustained howl she uses to signal her dismay at being left alone. “MY-HEART-IS-BREAKING-INTO-A-MILLION-PIECES.” Then there’s the skull-splitting bark she uses when she’s either signaling her urgent need to go outside to drop a lawn cigar or when she wants you to know that she’s very angry about being crated just because she clipped my head with her rock-solid hind quarters when she became airborne leaping over me while I sat on the couch. “NOT. MY. FAULT. LET. ME. OUT. OF. THIS. BIRD. CAGE. NOW!” Of course, there’s my personal favorite, the “nose whistling.” During these moments, you’d be right to mistake her for the world’s greatest flutist. “DO RE ME FA SO LA TI.” The only thing missing is a series of bright metallic keys on the bridge of her nose. I close my eyes and picture her standing on all fours on stage at Carnegie Hall. A very tiny, very round person dressed in a diminutive tuxedo daintily raises Olive’s petite tail and blows air into her behind while Olive deftly plays the keys on her nose. The pitch and range of the notes she’s able to hit are at the very least, American Idol-worthy. But the one noise she makes that never fails to startle me is her yawn. It sounds incredibly human-like. “EEEYYAHHHHHH.” It’s almost a little creepy. Now she’s snarling a bit like a frustrated bull because her softball-sized red tennis ball just bounced off the wall and shot under the couch. I bend down to retrieve it and when I look under the couch it looks like Christmas. At least five of her toys are huddled together seeking refuge. “SHHHHHH…WE ARE NOT REALLY HERE.”

Field of Dog Dreams

In Uncategorized on 03/21/2011 at 9:55 pm

"E=MC Squared. Mere child's play."

I wonder what went through the tick-sized brain of the low flying hawk that encountered Olive and me last week on one of our walks. As it approached us in cascading circles, gliding through the bright blue sky, Olive, ever the alert pooch, promptly reared up on her hind legs like a mustang that had just been goosed, and GROWLED (not barked) at the hawk. Olive’s reaction was notable for both its sustained growl and the length of time she was bi-pedal. In a strange way it was like watching the evolution of man fast-forward through time-lapse photography. The hunched over ape begins to walk upright as a man. Except of course, it were really evolution, the ape would turn into a woman, right Olive?

I suspect that Olive was getting ready to do battle with the hawk; making herself appear more threatening and possibly slightly crackers. It must frustrate her immensely that she cannot fly. I mean when you think about it, isn’t being a bird dog sort of a cruel twist of fate? It’s like pitting Aquaman against Superman. One swims, the other flies. Any bird dumb enough to get caught by a dog deserves to be removed from the gene pool.

What does run through a dog’s mind? Is it driven just by biological sensation? BIRD. HUNGRY. EAT. What about when Olive is just sitting on the lawn like a silent sentry observing the world around her through all her senses? WET. RAIN. DEPRESSED. Or, DEER SCAT. BLACK PEARLS. NECKLACE. Maybe we don’t give dogs enough credit. Maybe like someone suffering from schizophrenia or an autistic child, they simply interact with the world with their own logic, converse in their own language. Maybe dogs do have complex thoughts and we’re the ones who haven’t figured it out yet. When you think about it, while humans use their brain to figure out stuff like the theory of relativity, dogs use their nose to sniff out cancer cells. So, who’s really smarter?

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