The Mystery of Misty’s Misbehavior

I swear he was more sinister in person! You can see a second roadrunner blurred in the background.

Misty has been a bad dog. This past week, her old habits have reemerged. She eats quarts of grass and barks in unending soliloquies. In an unprecedented act of rudeness, she left a huge round wet spot in front of the bedroom door.

Doggie transgressions stem from doggie angst. Why would her nerves be a wreck? Is the neighbor’s bloated tabby tomcat taunting her through the chain-link fence? Are the adolescent boys who peep at me throwing rocks again? Did the blue moon call forth an ancient and eldritch beast that exclusively menaces mongrel Border Collies?

The truth surprised me. Mid-afternoon, I tramped out back to reposition the sprinkler in our overgrown grassy area. A loud electric crackling startled me. It was the kind of loud, threatening noise you would encounter in a digitally re-mastered Frankenstein movie.

It repeated twice before I could pinpoint the source. A trio of roadrunners stalked the south wall. These were not amiable, cheeky roadrunners that would permit inept coyotes to chase them. These were the fierce avian successors of velociraptors, bold and territorial. The dominant male flared his crest and darted towards me audaciously, sizzling like a high voltage wire. Stupefied, I stepped back several paces.

The two smaller birds joined him expectantly as if a major chase were to commence. My heart skipped a beat, like the frozen instant after a seagull has snatched a crust off your plate. When I recovered, I thought, “Damn! Where’s my camera?”

By the time I lugged it out, the show was over. The pursuer became the pursued. I captured a fleeting shot of the two smaller birds fleeing across the yard and a multitude of blurry photographs of the roadrunners treed in a mesquite bush. From the relative safety of the mesquite, the dominant male still flared his crest ominously and continued to sputter with hostile vigor. No wonder poor Misty was unsettled! Extra nerve-soothing reassurance will be heaped upon her.

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