Dog’s bird obsession fascinating

Karl Terry

It’s hard to believe the energy the slumbering black dog at my feet is capable of expending.

We adopted Ranger about eight months ago because his previous owner said he had a fixation toward cats and her sister’s cats were being terrorized. I’m not sure about a cat fixation but I know he goes crazy when he sees a bird.

He spends a good chunk of the daylight hours in the backyard running back and forth following the path of birds flying over. He can sit underneath the TV antenna and bark at the swallows perched there for hours or as long as the birds choose to torment him. I think the birds have sensed his angst and sit there just to upset the drooling canine monster below.

Earlier in the year we had a pair of mockingbirds nesting in the spruce tree in the backyard. Mockingbirds can be a real pest to dogs and cats because they’ll actually bomb dive and peck them. With a nest in the area the pair were especially vigilant and quick to dish out punishment to the dog.

Most dogs become real cautious after a raucous mockingbird dives at them a couple of times and avoid the area where it happens. Not Ranger. He stood his ground defiantly, barking at the birds any time they perched on the utility line above the yard and circling the tree continually. He went so far as to prune the spruce limbs he could reach with his teeth.

We have a bird bath just outside the window of the office at home and Ranger’s favorite indoor pastime is bird watching if the shades are open. One day my wife had the window up and Ranger bailed out through the screen to get outside. We’ve been careful since then not to raise that window.

The dog is obsessive about the birds but also likes to run the fence and jump against the 6-foot cedar fence so that he can see over. He only jumped out one night but he is capable of hooking his front feet over the top of the fence so he can hang there while he looks over.

I’m sure people who see that dog peering at them over a 6-foot fence wonder what’s up with that.

When the temperatures got so hot, my wife became alarmed that he was running so much he might become overheated. She had me buy a kid’s plastic wading pool thinking that since he liked to play in the sprinklers he would probably get in the pool to cool off. He hasn’t taken the plunge yet but the birds in the neighborhood are enjoying another source of water. The dog also likes to drink out of it.

I’ve had Brittany spaniels and a Springer spaniel and all displayed some birdiness naturally but nothing like Ranger’s obsession. I would try to turn him into a working bird dog but I’m afraid he’d expect me to shotgun mockingbirds hummingbirds and swallows in the backyard.

Maybe a doggie psychiatrist would be a better idea.