Interview With a Montreal Pit Bull

pitbull

Support for Montreal’s proposed ban on pit bulls has dropped significantly since it was first introduced. In the immediate aftermath of the deadly attack on a woman by a dog last June support was strong. Perhaps a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to the sad and tragic incident, without waiting to see how things panned out. As time passes fewer people are in favour of the breed specific ban.

But one opinion has been omitted from the discourse, so your intrepid blogger took it upon himself to go to the horse … er …. dog’s mouth and interview an actual pit bull.

Many have weighed in on the controversial law that, if enacted, would call for pit bulls to be sterilised, to wear muzzles in public, to have microchips inserted and ban future pit bull breeding. Dog owners, non-dog owners, veterinarians, lawyers and many more have expressed opinions, most of them against the law. But one opinion has been omitted from the discourse, so your intrepid blogger took it upon himself to go to the horse … er …. dog’s mouth and interview an actual pit bull.

Arriving at the prearranged secret location my subject, who insisted on anonymity, immediately sprang at me, standing on his hind legs with his forelegs on my chest. “Don’t maul me” I shouted.

“Don’t be a fool,” he replied. “I’m not going to maul you, I’m just patting you down to make sure you’re not wired.”

It’s bad enough you treat other humans based on looks and colour, please don’t bring that trend to the animal world.

Once he was confident I was not representing the government, and my heart rate returned to somewhat normal. I was ready to get going but as I was about to ask my first question he put up a big paw to stop me then tapped on the table with his claw.

“What?” I asked.

“Where are they?”

“Oh yes, here.”

I reached into my pocket and placed a handful of dog treats on the table. He took one, expertly bit off a small piece, like a sommelier with wine he gave it much consideration, crunched it and swallowed it.

“Milkbone, fresh, good quality. Got all I asked for?”

I assured him I had a half box of them packed away in various pockets, just as he had requested. Only then did he agree to commence with the interview.

DCMontreal: Is it fair to have a breed specific ban?

Pit Bull: Of course not. How are they going to determine the breed? What about mixed breeds? If a dog bites someone and it turns out to be 48% pit bull it’s no big deal, but 51% and it’s off to the knackers yard? The only thing this has done is fuel a black market for false papers. I know purebreds who have papers stating they are only one quarter pit bull. And what if a Doberman rips out someone’s throat? Is that somehow less egregious?

DCM: What about the idea of sterilisation?

PB: Oh, sure, isn’t that a wonderful idea. They lop off our manhood then they’re all surprised when we’re cranky and bite people. C’mon, give me a break, if I can’t be a big shot with the bitches, what’s left? I’ll tell you: biting. And tell me something, isn’t it ironic that the world’s biggest spaying and neutering activist is a guy named Bob BARKER? No part of that guy is dog.

At this point, he again tapped the table and I put down another handful of treats, as he had been snacking while talking.

DCM: And those muzzles. How are you with that idea?

PB: Muzzles are great; on politicians, but not on dogs. Look at that guy in the States Donald Trump. If ever there was an argument for a muzzle it’s him. No, muzzles are way too constricting. Let’s say I’m walking down the street and I see something I want to pick up in my mouth and shake ..

DCM: You mean a child?

PB: No I don’t mean a child. I mean a stick. We love to pick up sticks in our mouths and shake them. But with a muzzle that little bit of enjoyment is gone.

DCM: What about the insertion of a microchip?

PB: That’s no problem. But the anesthetic can be dangerous.

DCM: I don’t believe they use anesthetic. I think they insert it just under the skin with a needle.

PB: (Chortling) I’d like to see the vet who is going to try to put a microchip ‘just under my skin’.

At this point I was out of dog treats and so the interview came to an end. But before we parted he gave me one last statement.

PB: Have you ever seen a Bouvier?

DCM: I’m afraid I don’t move in those social circles. I’ve never even been to the Hamptons.

PB: No no, stupid not those Bouviers I mean the breed Bouvier des Flandres, those dogs that look like big lovable poodles. They are adorable, but given an opportunity they will tear your arm off. Do I hear of a Bouvier ban? Nope. But a mean looking dog such as myself and my fellow pit bulls are another thing. It’s bad enough you treat other humans based on looks and colour, please don’t bring that trend to the animal world.

I had to admit, he had me there.

 

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

It is Called Chicken Wire for a Reason

Say what you will about pigeons, their determination is admirable. I thought the pigeons and the smaller birds who visit my feeder had reached an agreement. But I was wrong.

For the better part of a year I did not see one single pigeon at my feeder while numerous sparrows, finches and chickadees enjoyed having a snack. Then, out of nowhere, much like having a group home for delinquent teens open next door, the pigeons were everywhere. Not happy to scare off the little guys and eat all the seeds, these troublesome birds set about breaking the feeder. They stood on it and reduced it to splinters.

Finally one of them walked over and, bold as brass, stretched his oil-slicked neck far enough to reach the lowest seed hole. Bastard.

I did a little research online and purchased a hanging tube feeder that is designed for small birds. After removing the pieces of the original feeder, I installed the new one outside my window. Within minutes the pigeons were back examining the possibilities of getting their beaks on the seeds. Finally one of them walked over and, bold as brass, stretched his oil-slicked neck far enough to reach the lowest seed hole. Bastard. No big deal I thought, I will just put duct tape over that one hole. Well, you would think he read my mind because before I knew it  he had hopped up and taken a position on one of the perches. Given his size, he could not get at the seed hole immediately in front of the perch, but once again stretching his neck was able to gobble seeds from a higher opening. Bastard.

Undaunted I did even more research and made my way to the local hardware store to purchase a roll of chicken wire. I concocted a mesh bubble with the wire and placed it over the feeder. It was very windy here last night so this morning I was pleased to see that the feeder was still in place within its protective sheath and not lodged in a windshield below.

He looked at me through the window and I believe he said ‘bastard’.

During the night the wet surface of my windowsill froze, making it much like a skating rink. Before long the pigeons were back, but at least this time I had a chuckle as they landed on the ice only to slide off again. Once they caught on to the problem of the icy surface, they returned and made their way to the now enclosed feeder. Sure enough one of them strolled over and tried to access the seeds but was met with a beak full of wire. He looked at me through the window and I believe he said ‘bastard’.

But like Navy Seals pouring out of rafts and scaling the side of a ship, the pigeons used the chicken wire to climb up the feeder and fill themselves with seed intended for smaller birds. I have no idea how to handle this. Maybe I need pigeon wire. Bastards.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Trumped by a Pigeon

Capture_Bird

I put my bird feeder out early last spring. Since that time I have had countless visits from sparrows and finches. Small birds dropping by to pass the time of day and have a few seeds. Polite little fellows, if terribly nervous, who need only sense the smallest movement through the window to fly off to safety, only to return moments later.

All was going swimmingly until I, by chance, looked up at the feeder while walking down the street last Friday to find a large pigeon helping himself to beaks-full of seeds. Not that I have anything against pigeons, but I was concerned for the smaller birds chances of getting a fair shake at the feeder. Why it took the pigeons so long to discover the free chow is a mystery to me.

Capture_Bird_2My first attempt to maintain the sparrows’ place was to post the signs that you see here. This prompted the appearance of a plump gray older looking pigeon on my windowsill. Wearing a waistcoat and spats, he tapped on the glass with his beak to get my attention.

“Excuse me, Friend,” he said gruffly but courteously.

“Yes,” I replied.

“It’s just that we pigeons have a bit of a problem with the signs you have posted on your lovely feeder. Essentially we find them to be discriminatory, not to mention insulting. May I ask why you would have us banned from the feeder?”.

I explained that my intention was to preserve a place for little birds at the feeder, not to discriminate against any one species of large bird.

”Is that so?” he replied in a snippy manner. “Why then did you not portray a crow, grackle or seagull on your sign? No sir, you have singled out pigeons with your warnings.”

I had to admit he had me there. All of those birds can be found in my area yet I had focused on pigeons. Just as I was about to confess my failing, he had another go at me.

“Friend, or should I say Mr. Trump, will you be building a wall around your feeder to keep us out as you seem to consider us to be illegals (no, not ailing symbols of the USA, but birdsona non grata)? No doubt you will inexplicably assume we pigeons will pay for said wall.”

Well that hit home. My visitor had me pegged as the Donald Trump of the bird world, and he was right. As I was in the process of removing the offensive signs he pointed out the difference between birds and humans. Sure enough there they were, small birds munching away on one side of the feeder while several pigeons ate from the other side. They had achieved a harmonious solution to a problem that never existed.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Carlos Cicada’s Stormy Night

Bird_Guest
One of my guests enjoys some seeds.

My singing friend Carlos Cicada and his family have been staying on my street again this summer. The high heat and humidity that we have been enduring lately are welcomed by them; perfect for singing from their treetop lair.

This summer I placed a bird feeder outside our dining room window that has been a big hit with many smaller birds including sparrows and finches. I abandoned the hummingbird feeder after two years without a single visitor, humming, whistling or otherwise. The new feeder holds seeds and is made of wood with plastic windows, it looks very much like a little chalet.

One of the side effects of the high heat and humidity is late day or evening thunderstorms. A few nights ago we had a doozy of a storm. Great lightning display, a few foundation-shaking claps of thunder and buckets of rain.

Before going to bed, as I was closing the window lest our dining room get soaked, I noticed what looked like a small blue light in the now empty bird feeder, all the seeds having been consumed during the day. Upon closer inspection I saw that it was Carlos’ iPad. He and his family had taken refuge from the storm in the bird feeder. I imagine he was using my WiFi, so I reminded him not to repeat the Netflix fiasco of last summer when he used all my allotted download gigabytes watching A Bug’s Life.

“Hello my friend,” he shouted through the plastic siding on the feeder. “We have moved from our tree to this lovely condo for the duration of the heavy rain”. Sure enough there were his wife Consuela and kids Chico and Chica waving out at me. I bid them a safe night and retired to enjoy the fierce weather from the safety of my bed.

The next morning I was shocked to see that, so heavily had it rained, the feeder was flooded. The water had filled the lower portion where the seeds sit. By this time Carlos and family were back in their tree singing away, so I knew they were fine.

Later in the day Carlos dropped by my window, as he does from time to time, and I had a chance to ask him how they had fared. He pointed out that because of the flooding, as the water level was rising, they were forced to sleep in hammocks, suspended above the accumulated water in the feeder.

Evidently cicadas are very resourceful little fellows.

Carlos never ceases to amaze me and this was no exception. He pointed out that the hammocks kept the family dry all night. “Nothing I hate more than wet cuffs on my pajamas, Señor.”

“You wear pajamas?” I asked.

“Of course.” He replied.

Considering his penchant for hot humid climes, I pressed on and asked if he didn’t find pajamas very hot.

“Perhaps, my friend, if they were made of cotton or flannel they would be most uncomfortable, but I only wear silk pajamas.” Carlos informed me.

“Silk?” I blurted. “Nothing but the finest for you I see. That must get a bit expensive.”

“No amigo, I have a friend who is a silkworm, he makes them for me. No retail for Carlos.”

I should have seen that coming I guess …

 

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Disappearing Bees Explained

BumblebeeIn honor of World Honey Bee Day, I am re-posting this from last year.

I am learning so many things from the bug world this spring. First there was the eye-opener that earthworms live by a system of rules and regulations, with lawyer worms to keep them on the straight and narrow. Then I was approached by Harold the Emerald Ash Borer to ghost write his reply to all the negative press he and his fellow borers have been getting lately. Now it’s bees.

The other day there was a thump on my window. As I live on the third floor this was somewhat unnerving. I approached the window and looking out could see nothing that would account for the noise. Then I looked straight down at the window ledge and saw a bumblebee the size of a Fiat on the sill. Rotund, he was on his back with legs and wings flailing in an attempt to right himself. “A little help please” I heard through the window. Being a bit of a coward I was in no rush to open my window to the possibility of a visit from a stinging entity, even one who was asking for my help. “I assure you I come in peace” he said. How could I not act? I opened the window, and using a pencil got my visitor to his feet.

… the idea to go into hiding and thereby upset the entire ecosystem in an attempt to keep bees from being used as fodder in the search for explosives, was suggested by the Drones. Worker bees and union lads to the nth degree …

“Many thanks” he said. “Yours are some of the cleanest windows I’ve ever encountered”

“Thanks, and you’re welcome” I replied. I asked him what brought him to my window. It appears word has gotten around the neighbourhood that I am “bug friendly”.

“Allow me to explain sir. My name is Basil, and I am a Bumblebee. I have been selected by my hive members, based primarily but not solely on my ability to speak English, to get our message out to the world. Being a reader of your blog and therefore aware of your recent encounters with my fellow bugs, I thought you could be of assistance.”

I told Basil I was flattered that he read my blog, but didn’t know how I could be of help. However I was willing to listen to his problem. I invited him to come in on one condition; he had to sheath his stinger. This he understood completely and showed me that he had already encased his weapon in a lovely leather holster. So in came Basil. He complimented me on the decor and said I should feel free to drop by his hive some day.

I was pleased to be able to provide him with the saucer of water and sugar he requested in lieu of coffee. With no threat of being stung, I was able to get a good look at his yellow and black furry torso and was taken aback by what I think was styling mousse.

I asked what it was specifically that brought him to me and, in between sips of sweetened water, he told me that the recent news stories about the mysterious disappearance of vast numbers of bees were incorrect. He explained that the bees were not missing, nor had they been exterminated, they were in fact hiding.

“Hiding” I exclaimed. “Where?”

At this Basil merely rolled his eyes and said “if I told you that, it wouldn’t be a very good hiding place, would it chief?”

Everyday we bees leave the hive in search of pollen. Once located we return and proceed to inform our hive colleagues just where the cache is to be found. We do this by way of a complicated dance. Scientists have studied this dance and been amazed by it for generations. On the other hand, dogs fetch sticks
He continued to explain how bees have always been proud of the role they play in the whole ecosystem, but that the latest job suggested for them was a but over the top. It seems someone has come up with the bright idea to use bees as a means of finding explosives. Sniffer bees would be trained to seek out bombs, and mines.

He elaborated: the idea to go into hiding and thereby upset the entire ecosystem in an attempt to keep bees from being used as fodder in the search for explosives, was suggested by the Drones. Worker bees and union lads to the nth degree, they felt this was necessary. And you thought the AFL-CIO was powerful!

“But,'” I protested “you can’t do that”.

Hey, we’re not supposed to be able to fly either, but we do!

It was when I mentioned that sniffer dogs have long been used for this that I understood I had offended Basil and I got what can only be described as a lecture from my little guest. “Everyday we bees leave the hive in search of pollen. Once located we return and proceed to inform our hive colleagues just where the cache is to be found. We do this by way of a complicated dance. Scientists have studied this dance and been amazed by it for generations. On the other hand, dogs fetch sticks.”

Feeling a little put out by Basil’s harsh tone I said I couldn’t imagine him doing much dancing, complicated or otherwise, given his girth. Again he shook his head in disbelief and told me those dances were soon to be a thing of the past. With smartphones equipped with GPS, when bees come upon a stash of pollen they now send a text back to the hive thereby informing the drones where to go.

To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. No wonder bees were becoming rare, they had no intention of being used to find explosives. These are not dumb beasts and Basil wanted me to get that message out.

With smartphones equipped with GPS, when bees come upon a stash of pollen they now send a text back to the hive thereby informing the drones where to go.

He finished his water and wiped his mouth with a small handkerchief before starting to buzz. Oh no, here it comes, he’s going to turn on me, I thought. They always say you can’t really trust wild animals; no more civilized gentleman bee, he’s going native on me. How long until he unsheathed that stinger and was having at me? As the buzzing increased I could see Basil trembling; I thought he was going to take flight but instead he pulled out the smallest iPhone I’ve ever seen and said “I always forget when I put it on vibrate. I’m thinking of switching to Samsung. What do you think?”

With that Basil made his way out if my window and off to his hive. But before taking off from my sill, he said there was no need for me to send him a draft of our conversation before I posted it; that he trusted me to get it right. Not coincidentally I fear, he said this as he was removing the holster from his stinger with a funny glint in his little eyes that I still am not sure indicated appreciation or threat!  Yet the next day when I looked I noticed a very small sticker on the lower part of my window that said “Make Honey, Not Bombs” and I knew Basil had been back.

As per today’s Daily Post, what about a Bee who seems to want to me my BFF?

Me DCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

High Heat Warning, Visiting Cicadas and Bernie Sanders

A Cicada, evidently  from Vermont, arrives to help in Montreal hear wave.
A Cicada, evidently from Vermont, arrives to help in Montreal hear wave.

Perhaps known more for our extreme cold, Montreal is currently in the grips of a heat wave. The warning below issued by Environment Canada gives you some indication. Remember those figures are in Celsius; Humidex values between 35° – 40° translates to 95°F and 104°F.

I have heard a rumour that the heat and humidity are so intense that local cicadas have put out a call for their fellow singing bugs from adjacent states and provinces to come and help out.

I have heard a rumour that the heat and humidity are so intense that local cicadas have put out a call for their fellow singing bugs from adjacent states and provinces to come and help out.

One hears of these things during difficult times; requests for firefighters to help with forest fires, or medical technicians. During Quebec’s big ice storm many Hydro-Electric workers from New England came to help get the power flowing again. All in the name of neighborliness.

Well, not exactly. Once things had gotten back to normal and that warm fuzzy feeling of camaraderie had faded into mere pleasant smiles of recollection, the bills arrived. No doubt it works both ways; did the Canadian firefighters who helped in the wake of 9/11 not get paid?

This has always seemed crass to me. Like charging a next-door neighbour for helping him in a time of crisis.

Yet … nobody does anything for nothing.

 

Heat Warning

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Cocky Sparrow

Sparrow

If you have read this blog with any regularity over the last couple of years, and I can’t imagine anyone not, you will be familiar with my relationships with several members of the local urban wildlife. You will also recall my failed efforts to attract hummingbirds to a feeder as well my offer of accommodation in my terrarium/B&B to cicadas visiting town that resulted in nary a booking. But I think I’ve finally done it.

Giving the hummingbird feeder a pass this summer I have installed in its stead a simple seed bell. In fact I’m now on my third such bell as they are proving to be a real hit with the myriad little birds in the neighbourhood. Sparrows for the most part, with an occasional finch or chickadee, are going through the bells like there’s no tomorrow. Just observing them has provided me with much amusement.

I’ve noticed how these little guys seem to be in a constant state of high anxiety; heads darting in all directions as they nip off a seed or two. If I ate under those conditions I’d have wicked indigestion. I wonder if I should put out a few crushed Tums.

Then yesterday while quietly watching a little fellow peck away at the seed bell I was surprised when he turned to me and said “What. Can I help you? How’d you like me to stare at you while you’re eating?”.

“You can speak?”

“Evidently.”

These urban beasts never cease to amaze me with their advanced communication skills, and snarkiness.

“Well, um, how’s the seed bell?” I asked awkwardly.

“Better than the one last week. It was stale. You really shouldn’t buy them at the Dollar Store. Admit it, would you eat food from there? Wrapping paper and greeting cards are all you should buy there. Maybe ramen noodles”

I’ve had several conversations with bugs and birds alike, but it always takes me a minute or two to get used to it.

“How about some worms?” I offered.

“Nope. They’re for early birds, not me.”

He had me with that as we were chatting mid-morning. “Wow, you guys are well organized, categorized, you could almost say …”

“Don’t”

“Pigeonholed.”

“You just had to say that didn’t you.” he moaned.

“Okay,” I said. “Then can you suggest a pet store where I might find a better quality seed bell?”

“Do I look like a pet?” he snapped.

Becoming a bit perturbed by this insolent bird I asked “What exactly is your problem?”

“Look at the size of me,” he said. “I live in a world of pigeons, crows, seagulls, the odd hawk and even an owl or two. You’d be cranky too if you had to be constantly looking over your shoulder.”

“Birds don’t have shoulders.” I said.

“Leave the snippy stuff to me, it doesn’t become you.”

I started to answer him when I noticed he had gone. But I think I’ll be seeing more of him this summer as some time later with a light rain falling I looked out and noticed a Post It sticky on the outside of my window. It said, Not good in the rain, do you deliver? I feel it only fair to mention that the writing was very elegant, slanted a little. Certainly not chicken scratch.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+