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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Volcanic Ash
Bird-dogging a pigeon mystery

By David Shapiro

In the end, it all boiled down to a rotting carcass, many plastic bags and possibly some very bad karma.

Three or four times a year, I find a dead pigeon on a little 5-foot strip of grass at the side of our patio.

For a long time, I scanned the heavens for an explanation. What diabolical force could cause birds to keep falling dead out of the sky at exactly this spot? An atmospheric anomaly? A paranormal phenomenon? A wrathful God?

I finally found my answer closer to the ground. As usual, our Shar-pei Bingo was in the thick of the trouble.

I discovered while working in the yard that the pigeons and our dog have quite a war going on.

The birds harass Bingo all morning by stealing the breakfast ration of kibble we put out for him. Bingo could solve the problem by eating as soon as we serve him, but that would require an I.Q. of at least 3.

He won't eat until his internal alarm says it is time to arise from his nap, stretch leisurely, approach his bowl cautiously, back away and spend a good minute chewing on that erogenous zone at the base of his tail, circle three times and at last chow down.

By then, the birds have made off with half of his kibble. Bingo occasionally looks up from his nap to think about chasing them away, but he seems to know intuitively that this burns more caloric energy than he gains by saving the food.

I always figured it's Bingo's problem, but my wife worries that the birds are robbing our dog of vital nourishment. She put out a fearsome-looking plastic owl to scare them off. It didn't give the pigeons a moment's pause, but it sure terrorized Bingo. He wouldn't go near his dish for a week.

The birds take their afternoon entertainment from dive-bombing poor Bingo when he steps out to that small bit of grass to unburden himself of what little kibble they left him in the morning.

The speedy pigeons usually get the better of these encounters, but there are times a dog shouldn't be disturbed. A few times a year, Bingo gets up a paw at the right time and bats a pigeon out of the air. Hence, the dead birds on the grass.

My wife found a feathery carcass the other day and demanded that I do something about it. I wanted to wait until one of our kids who owes us money came to visit, but she gave me one of those looks, so out I went.

I wrapped my hand in a two-ply of plastic gloves, took a deep breath and scooped the ripening bird into a three-ply of plastic grocery bags.

I never felt I owed these idiot birds a decent burial, but what I did next was rude. I noticed Bingo's latest deposit of spent kibble on the grass and scooped that into the bag, too. I tied up the ghastly mess and left it out with the trash.

The guilt hit me as soon as I got back in the house. I had condemned the creature's mortal remains to an eternity of sharing a resting place with the dung of the beast who did him in. Bad karma.

I knew I should set things right, but the idea of opening that bag after it had been sitting in the hot carport held me back. The trash truck came and the opportunity was gone.

The biggest tests of character are what you do when nobody is looking. Not even a mutt would pass me on this test.

Very bad karma.

David Shapiro can be reached at dave@volcanicash.net