Uncivilized Wildlife: One Big Bloody Battle

I’m a creature of habit.

A couple of them I like and have come to depend upon—like sleeping, eating, and general brain function reliability.

One or two have stuck around that I’m not terribly fond of—like hitting the hay too late, forgetting where I’ve parked the car, and stalking Neil deGrasse Tyson in hopes that he’ll change his mind and finally decide to co-author a scientific paper with me on the plausible objectives of time travel through human-sized, uncooked rigatoni noodles.

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I think he’s afraid he’ll have to do most of the authoring. But I’ve assured him I will pull my weight. I will keep our coffee cups filled. I will keep all the pencils sharpened. And I will do my best to man our Twitter page and keep it filled to the brim with pithy, clever snippets that reflect our opinions on all things hyperspace bypass related.

This bad habit could turn into a big bonus for the both of us.

My creatures are creatures of habit too.

The cat is awake to eat.

And then isn’t.

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My hound has a slightly more varied routine, but he too keeps a predictable schedule, which is why at around 11:30 last night I was surprised to see him wander into my bathroom while I was finishing my evening ablutions.

“Shouldn’t you be outside making your last security rounds?” I asked him with a mouthful of toothpaste.

Ran into a tiny snag.

“Why are you bleeding all over my bathroom floor?”

The tiny snag had teeth.

“This does not bode well for my precious Italian faux marble tiling,” I said, wondering if the pooling blood would stain.

A little help here?

I sighed. “Go get me a bucket of bleach and a wire brush.”

A Band-Aid would suffice.

“And if I go into that housekeeping cupboard tomorrow and notice you’ve stolen all my camphor moth balls again, there’ll be a reckoning.”

I had a stuffy nose.

“Use the Neti Pot!”

And so it went.

I cleaned him up and noted the two deep puncture wounds on one side of his hind leg and the graze of teeth marks on the opposite side.

“Who did this to you?”

I didn’t catch his name.

“No. I mean what animal did this to you?”

Something massive that obviously hadn’t had dinner yet.

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“Well, it’s bedtime. No more prowling about tonight—got it?”

The look I got in return was one that suggested I had an IQ equal to that of tapioca pudding. We shuffled off to bed. But sadly not to sleep.

As is wont to happen round about this time of year, the whippoorwills make their annual appearance and settle in around the woods and meadows surrounding the house. From far away, they offer a dreamy, somnolent tune, echoing through the cool spring nights.

Sitting beneath your window, they are shrill, piercing, and an aberration of nature–as anyone would attest they surely have three lungs.

For thirty minutes I did my level best to ignore the siren song which was truly much more of an honest to God siren and less so a beautiful, mythical sea creature calling me out to the crashing waves and hidden jagged rocks.

I got up, opened the porch door and encouraged it to take its evening serenade elsewhere. “For the love of all things holy, I’m begging you, PLEASE BE QUIET!

I soon gathered that the bird balladeer and I did not speak the same language, or perhaps he interpreted my hand clapping as applause. He simply relocated to the space beneath another window.

The following thirty minutes was difficult to breathe through as I had my head beneath two pillows.

It was clear this bird was hoping to make it onto the Avian Olympic team and that his training facility was any perchable place within 12-24 inches of my house walls. The incessant aria, the rigorous, methodical whooping warble was worthy of a gold medal for effort. And a twelve gauge for the likeability factor.

I got up, went to the window and gave it a couple of good solid thumps. When this achieved nothing, I opened it and began shouting into the night. “I know where you live! I will not be fooled into looking skyward! I know you’re all ground nesting birds!


I looked at the dog who was still tending to his wounds. “You’re wel—”


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And then there were three.

This bird had called in for backup. The flock now positioned themselves on all sides of the bedroom walls that faced nature. It was a trio of torturous, ill-timed tunes.

I groaned and found a pair of previously owned earplugs. I shoved them in so far they practically met behind my nose. I burrowed down beneath two pillows and a quilt. I hummed. I made ocean-like white noise.

After ten minutes, I got up and called for the dog. His head was firmly wedged beneath the bed.

“Okay, I’ve changed my mind. Go gettem, tiger.”

No, thank you, he said, glancing at the fang imprints he now sported.

We both spent the rest of the night being miserable and met up in the kitchen at breakfast—me fresh from a shower and him coming in from outside.

So, this might be of interest. He dropped a greeting card in my lap.

“What does it say?”

He snorted. You know I don’t read. But it was right outside my dog door.

I read it aloud for the both of us.

Hey, bud. Sorry about the bite. I thought you were a whippoorwill. Those things are driving me crazy.’

I looked up from the note. “Well, apparently some of Mother Nature’s brood has manners.”



Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.












82 thoughts on “Uncivilized Wildlife: One Big Bloody Battle

  1. Oh, yes, the beautiful chirp of birds is not so beautiful when we’re trying to sleep. I’d never get any zzzs without my white-noise machine. Unfortunately, it fails to drown out the neighborhood kid’s basketball dribbling in the morning. I’m thrilled he’s active, but 7:30 on a Saturday morning? Good times, good times.

    • I wonder what wallaby tastes like? And seriously? Your corgi can take one of those down? Good heavens, that is some watchdog (which makes me wonder about the size of your sister’s cat and what magic breed she must be).

    • Yep, that guy is pure gold. Never complains, doesn’t whine and thankfully is a helluva lot funnier than I am.
      He’s a keeper.
      And as far as the cats go, I’ve never had the opportunity to hear the midnight lounge show. The closest thing we have here would be the fox, who when screaming at night can make the hair stand straight up on your arms. I can’t get used to it. *shiver*

  2. I always thought that the song of a whippoorwill would be quite the romantic thing but that bird just needs its butt whipped. Nature, humph. Totes adore the last cartoon Mr R! This post had me chuckling out loud, living in Australia, the bird life is raucous and at times, nocturnally so. Feeling your pain.

    • Cheergerm, you found the absolute perfect word to describe summer nights on this patch of property: raucous. I have traveled often and found one of the things most interesting to me is the soundscape each place offers up. Whether mechanical in nature or naturally agrarian, the noises are fascinating to category. Where I live right now, the environment is cacophonous. Insects, night birds, and all the night-visioned hunters. It is a party just as loud and braying as any university frat house has to offer on a typical Saturday night.
      I hope your approaching wintertime offers some stillness and deep sleeping opportunities.

  3. Very cute, though I hope your dog was okay! Maybe it was a raccoon? 😦 I have never heard a whooper-ma-callit. I have a feeling they are in the same loathing bracket as a Japanese cicada. 😛

    • It was a BEAR!
      There is a mama bear roaming about with two fresh cubs. Haggis likely stumbled upon the cubs and thought What fun! Other dogs!, and the mama bear said, “Think otherwise, buddy.”
      He’s totally healed. A trip to the vet. Three weeks of antibiotics. And some rehabilitating slow walks. Good as new. And a bit wiser of the world.
      And UGH, cicadas!

      • OMG! Your poor dog! At least the bear didn’t do worse… :O I’m glad he’s better now. I’m just kind of floored. Wow.

  4. Oh what a miserable night! Annoying nature calls, a wounded pup and earplugs threatening your cute little nose. And speaking of your cute little nose, that’s an adorable new photo of you in your side bar. That could be part of your problem though: you just don’t look menacing enough.

    We have a serenading Slinky to ensure no one sleeps past five am. She’s deaf as a post, so assumes everyone else must be too. Her cries are tortured and melancholy and can only be put off for so long. If Rob were illustrating my life, we would need three cat pictures. Eating, sleeping and attempting to wake the dead.

    Fun post, Shelley.

  5. That was a great post to wake up to, I’d much rather read your blog than the Sunday papers – no depressing news and far more humour. We don’t have whippoorwills here but we do have owls – but fortunately they don’t sit right outside your window and screech, it’s more a case of them assaulting your ears in a fly-by, so we don’t have to endure anything like as much aural pain. Yet again you’ve made me wince on your behalf while laughing at the way your describe your dilemma, and that dog of yours is wonderful, no wonder he makes regular appearances in your blogs.
    Rob’s cartoons are, as ever, the icing on the cake – hard to pick a favourite as the cat one was just so apt, but I think the last one just gets the honours. 🙂

    • Laura, your generous compliments make my heart sing–and I’ll pass on the words of praise to old Haggis. That’ll perk him up for a good half a minute.
      And oh, how I love the sound of the owls in the woods. There’s something so magical about their presence. That after curfew call is like no other and sends shivers up and down my spine.

  6. Sounds like a rough night so pardon me for giggling! Really hope the beloved Haggis is OK Shelley, poor lamb, or sheep rather. I’m ashamed to say I have no idea what a whipper will looks or sounds like but from your post that is probably a blessing, have a peaceful Sunday 🙂

    • I DO hope you giggled, Jane. It’s the levity of life I try to capture. And yes, that old feller is flyin’ fine. He’s learned what bear smells like and has now categorized the scent as one to make a wide berth of–although if you watch him walk now while trying to do that, it does look like a drunken schlepp from point A to point B. It’s a good thing my nose is not as fine as his.

      And whippoorwills will never win any beauty pageant crowns, but they’ll surely be offered jobs as a public address system if looking for employment. 😀

  7. That is so funny! These oddly named birds are nocturnal? I too loved the old sidebar pic – it always made me smile you looked like you were having such fun…………. but this one is probably better for a serious writer – or a writer who wishes to be taken seriously perhaps? ……. .[I hope you know what I mean.]

    I am amazed that today is partly about the hound because I met Haggis in the dog park this morning, I was so enthralled to see him,and was just about to greet his bundled up ball thrower with a high five when I remembered I wasn’t in your neck of the woods any more and next I realised this was a sightly younger version of your hound running around energetically after his ball. This fellow had just been given his marching orders from training to be a guide dog. Apparently he wasn’t in the least phased as this would give him more time for his preferred occupation of ball retrieval. “Some dogs,” said his thrower sadly as she bent down for the soggy ball dropped by her gumboot shod feet “just aren’t cut out for the work. He would be forever dropping a ball at the feet of his person and tripping them up!” . I hope the hound has healed and will avoid any more nocturnal shenanigans in which he comes off second best!

    • I’m glad you like the new picture, Pauline. And yes, this is one the marketing department chose for publicity so I assume it says something like, agreeably scrappy. o_O

      And what a coincidence seeing his doppelganger. Sometimes I feel badly for dogs in that being a “breed,” they have so many twins out there in the world, it can be hard to carve out some individual style. I suppose that’s entirely anthropomorphic of me to say. They surely could care less. And I know this to be true because this is what Haggis’ therapist has told me that he vehemently complains about during his weekly sessions. 🙄

  8. Shelley,

    You crack me up! You are so my Calvin and Hobbes. I love the vaulting conversation you and your bubbly humble pup have… it’s absolutly hilarious! (God created the dog to be humans best friend for a reason… to teach us patients and forgiveness). I can also appreciate your pain (ok, wait… is that sadistic or an oxymoron? Perhaps I’m the …moron, I digress).

    Thank you for yet another hoot to make my Sunday morning a pleasure. Your reads are rivaling equals with Sunday Morning on CBS with Charles Kuralt… except I still love the trumpet. You might want to consider a musical interlude for your blog, just a suggestion.

    Rob, man you crack me up! Great comics! You first calendar of comic collections has taken over my wall mount of my Velvet Elvis painting… (that was a tough choice).

    “Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” – Calvin

    Much respect,

    S 🙂

    • I’m glad to hear you’re not contemplating some family intervention upon reading of my cutting-edge conversations with the dog. These dialogues are crucial to his mental health. And I am all about maintaining an academic environment here in my house.
      Musical interlude? You’re so right, that would be a boost in the amusement factor, but there is only so much time in the day. And I can barely keep up with things as they are. Unless I hire out, I may just make a note in the text that says, “whistle the first four bars of any Dwight Yoakam song here.”

  9. Your poor pooch. I never understood why so many folks think that nature is this charming and benign entity, designed to soothe. Look around you and you will find more things that will bite you than those that will caress. I am not totally anti wilderness, I have done quite a bit of hiking, camping and all of that other outdoorsy stuff some people consider so relaxing. I just think that communing with nature should be done in measured doses and at all times with an eye out for all of those little toothy snags. Again a clever and entertaining piece. I hope your doogie heals. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes! Those little toothy snags are on the attack in such a ubiquitous manner that I find my daily two-mile hike is one I prepare for like I’m going into battle. I carry a stick, I’m covered head to toe in military-grade DEET fierce enough to ward off drones and I have a pocket full of stones and a small sling shot sticking out the back of my shorts. Good heavens those bunny rabbits are fierce.

      I’m glad you liked the post, Benson. Haggis has fully recovered head to toe, and now has an elevated status of ‘one who wars with bears.’

  10. Hi Shelley – How are feeling????????? The reason I ask is this Post:
    a/. A couple of habits you depend on = sleeping, eating and brain function (that is 3!)
    b/. One or two you don’t like = going to bed late, forgetting where car is and Neil DeGrasse Tyson (this also 3!)
    Perhaps you should stop depending on the brain function bit and then, not only will your couple of habits truly be a couple………… but you will have a far better understanding of nature. Clearly you rationalize far too much and with a brain with counting challenges…….. that’s a recipe (you like food right?) for disaster. Three birds???? Really???? How would you know? 🙂

      • We’ve got the cleaning crew (3 drakes and a female, the permanent quartet who clean the algae off the hull), the bachelors (three mallards always swimming together), Lonely Duck (see my poem and who now has an ally three boats down as he took pity on him and now feeds him!), Mrs Boating Two and her babies, and as for the swans! Oh boy, I just say hello and they come swimming over! In the woods I was the biscuit lady for everyones dogs and here I’m the bird lady of the marina! 😀
        (Do I get a badge???? haha)

  11. Your writing, as always, has brought a laugh to my world this morning. I am so glad to find someone else completely unenamoured of bird calls (even if you only seem bothered by the nocturnal ones). It is most definitely the most frustrating thing ever that they don’t understand the words, SHUT UP! Such a straightforward thing…trying to sleep, but of course, in worlds like ours, nothing is simple. We must be prepared at all times to run the gauntlet to achieve even the most basic of needs. I applaud you being able to greet the new day with a positive perspective!

    • You know, Torrie, you really gave me pause for thought with your statement of sleep being such a straightforward need and also the fact that all of us creatures are on different sleep cycles. If I had the audacity to complain about the working hours of the whippoorwill, I’m now just wondering what sort of pain and suffering that fellow must be going through all day long as HE’S trying to sleep. Good heavens, the traffic, the lawn mowers, the kids playfully shouting. What a headache. Perhaps it’s payback.
      I shall try to go about my day being a tiny bit more mindful of the nocturnal snoozers around me.
      (and thank you for the lovely, lovely compliment)

      • Good heavens! You not only find humour in a situation, but you empathize with the other team!? You really are a champion of the highest degree!

  12. i’ll never look at tapioca pudding quite the same way again shelley. i’ll be a little threatened by it’s purported intelligence now.

    also glad to know haggis is well again but if he couldn’t tell the difference between a dog and a bear maybe it’s time he got new glasses. oh, and how’s your italian faux marbling doing?

    have a great week – mac!

    • Haha! I can’t recall the last time I had that childhood pudding. It’s been awhile.
      And yes, in the dark those bear cubs are the right size for a playful companion. But new glasses may be in order. 😉
      And the tiles? Well, now they have a near murder mystery to add to their mystique.
      Cheers, Mac!

  13. Of course we know bears are literate. How else could the story of Goldilocks have been written? Thanks goodness it apologized, but I bet it would do it again, whippoorwills or not….

  14. I hate not getting enough sleep. Hope your pooch’s wound is healing nicely, as well as his ego. May you sleep through everything tonight, and may the bloodstains be easily removed.

    • Getting good Zs. The ultimate pursuit in the human search for a perfect day. If only we could master it.
      And yes, Haggis is fully healed. A round of antibiotics all done. His big ol leg was shaved so the vets could inspect all the wounds and even his hair has grown back so that I can’t tell anymore.
      But the blood stains? Those remain as a deadly reminder. Parole at night at your own risk.
      Cheers, JB!

  15. That was good. Love that ending. We don’t have whippoorwills here. We have tree frogs who will lull you to sleep.

    • I adore tree frogs, Glynis. I leap for glee the moment I hear the first February peepers and then adore the bejeebies out of every variety of frog to toad that hops across my path. They are the truest sound of summer nights to me.

  16. Brilliant! Well, except for the part where your poor pooch fell victim to the fangs.

    We had a woodpecker that LOVED to do his thang in the wee hours of the morning. That may be the one thing I do not miss about the last house.

  17. i’m syrupp(a)prized: that no-one else has commented on the plausible merits of “time travel through human-sized, uncooked rigatoni noodles.” (i misstitt iph sew). THAT is just so crazy that, well, you know. LET’S git sum (of those noodles). now, i yoosta know a thing or 1.5 about relativistic time effex (or izzit affex?) and after we crawled thru’ such a noodle (and length of noodle is probably important, like, should it be 2 or 3 times a human’s body length? or square-root of 2 divided by π times your height? (the fibonnaci (sp) number is probably involved). forget about the nocturnal seranades and lions/n/tigers/n/wottevur wandurring about — and i’d suspect you could/would come up with other ideas for you and Neil to investigate …

    • Whoah, Jay–this is totally freaky. I was literally doing a whole afternoon’s worth of research on Fibonacci’s spiral for a book I’m working on. Which only reinforces my thought that somebody has figured out time travel. Surely one of us jumped ahead or behind in order to have us both write about it.
      I love wild coincidence.

      • o/s/well … i figure i’m enmesht in 2008 or so, tho’ the calendar sez uthur(un)wize … you don’t need fresh and jonny-on-the-(s)pot reminders of a few years back, dewwyew?
        (w)rememburrr: square-root of 5 +/- 2 ~ )

  18. Ah, if only nature would always conform to our daily schedules. Then birds wouldn’t keep us awake, weeds wouldn’t grow where they are clearly not wanted, and dogs could take care of their own medical emergencies. Why, if I may ask, a rigatoni? Or will that part of the time travel be explained in your future collaborative book?

  19. ROFL!…. Great post, Shelley… Starting with the title… “civilized-wildlife” … is that one a redundancy or an euphemism..?
    I am also a creature of habit…. Like you and your dog, or creatures in general… 😀
    You are right when you state that certain habits could turn into a big bonus for us… And their effects might go further… Such as for instance, a wounded dog. By the way, I love that part when you ask him “Who did this to you?”… And then you say… “I didn’t catch his name”… Imagine if one day he answers you, do you think he would do so in English, in German, Spanish… or …whatsoever!…
    Thanks for sharing!… All my best wishes, Aquileana ⭐

    • Civilized Wildlife? I think that would be an oxymoron, Aquileana, and good heavens how I would give my left lung for a pack of those beasts and critters.
      And I swear the hound answers me with much more clarity and consistency than my own children do. He speaks in English, but he sounds like Alan Rickman playing Marvin from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
      Cheers! 😉

  20. I am feeling much sympathy after coming back from three nights in a hotel where I listened to the dulcet harmonic tones of the mini-fridge, the fan, and the conspiracy of random trucks and motorcycles that decided to drive by my corner instead of the good side. I expect to be coherent tomorrow. Anyway, it may be the sleeplessness talking, but I believe this is one of your most polished posts – full of laugh-out-loud moments that have not stopped. I guess I’d better stop hysterically giggling and go to bed. 😉

    • No, no, no, Sue, tomorrow morning all will be clear that you were entirely delirious.
      But I thank you nonetheless. You are a good soul to read whilst so much is on your plate.
      I hope the symposium was absolutely stellar!

    • Oh, to have such a blissful loss of consciousness, Prajakta. I am in total awe and filled with envy. I’m just going to bow down to either your incredible luck or savvy skill. Fortunate girl. 😉

  21. I would stalk Neil Tyson for an entirely different reason (heh, heh). Big thanks to Rob for the two default modes of the cat. It’s so true 🙂 And, what a lovely new photo of you on the front page! Lookin’ good.

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