Living with the wilder side of my life

I’m thinking I need to stay home more often or I could be in danger of losing control over my own property.

I’ve been on the road a lot these past few months for various dog-related reasons — flyball tournaments (dog relay racing), conformation shows (think scaled down Westminster), and a couple of field events for pointing dogs. I also recently opened camp for the season.

Add in a full-time job and all the things that happen in normal life, and it’s been a grueling pace for me that is soon to come to a screeching halt. Thank the good Lord.

I plan to slow down my pace for summer so that I may enjoy it.

But I have noticed a kind of an encroachment on my home in the last couple of weeks by uninvited guests. God’s good creatures seem to think it’s OK to use my property for their own purposes.

Take for example, Mrs. Bird. One evening I opened my back door to let the dogs inside and in flew this bird. She flew around my kitchen and laundry room area, landing occasionally on the top of a door or some other surface.

A wild bird assessing her situation.

My four Brittany dogs — who hunt game birds for a living — were totally confused and looked to me for direction when the freaked out bird wouldn’t stay still.

Brittanys point where a game bird is situated and wait for their human to roust it from its hiding place and shoot it, at which time the dogs fetch the bird to the human. Job done. But this bird — which didn’t even smell right to the hunting dogs anyway — was not following the rules at all.

Eventually, when I propped the back door open, turned off most of the lights and we all stood still, the bird left my house, but not before making a couple of deposits.

That was when I opened the garage door on the side of the two-car garage where I do not keep my vehicle, hoping the bird would go outside, and discovered the bird was trying to build a nest on the overhead rail of my garage door opener. The opening door knocked down the nest, the bird went out and that was that.


Wrong. Since the pull of the instinct for species survival overrode all other considerations, Mrs. Bird repeatedly tried to rebuild that nest in the same spot. Between the use of the overhead door and my repeated destruction of her partially built nest, I thought I had discouraged her finally.

I checked the area when I returned from camp and she hadn’t seemed to come back, so I thought I had won.

Wrong again. A few days later, I was dive-bombed when I entered my garage and watched as Mrs. Bird returned to her fully built nest she had cleverly constructed on a wide board stashed in the top of the garage.

It turns out she is smarter than I am.

Now she’s actually sitting on a nest of eggs and I don’t have the heart to destroy her efforts — especially when I noticed the distinctive hair that belongs to my Brittany Thistle sticking up like a fur collar just above the mud and grass of the nest’s base. I had let loose some of the hair I had brushed out of Thistle’s soft coat outdoors so the birds could use it as nest liner.

The bird was just doing what I had intended. I forgot to be more specific about where those nests should be built, so Mrs. Bird is snuggled in a soft nest incubating her future babies at the top of my garage. I will leave her alone.

I’m not a cruel person.

The bird is not the only critter that seems to feel there is an open invitation to my abode.

It’s spring and time for my dogs to have their annual wellness checks and updated shots. It was my youngest Brittany Quincy’s turn recently. We were gone for about an hour, and while we were away from the house, a mouse visited my kitchen.

I know that, because it had left a distinctive trail of mouse poop from the glass top of my stove across all of my counters. I find mouse poop to be really gross, so that required me to stop what I was doing and clean up after the rodent — using copious amounts of disinfectant.

What I hope was the same mouse — don’t want more than one — recently chewed a hole in my favorite wool coat when it was hanging in the hall closet, so leaving its little calling cards was the last straw for me.

No mouse sightings yet.

Out came a mouse trap. It is set and sitting on my kitchen stove with some enticing peanut butter in it. I may have to relocate it to the closet. We’ll see. But in my opinion, this mouse’s days are numbered.

So maybe I am a cruel person.

I also have a chipmunk that keeps popping up from under my front steps. I have not seen it inside yet, so it is safe from me at the moment. But I’m on guard.

My “pests” are not confined to the winged and four-legged varieties. It seems I have people issues too.

There has been drainage, sidewalk, and other construction on the stretch of road in front of my house in recent weeks. Of course with construction comes the folks who work on the project — heavy equipment operators, flag people, supervisors, engineers. Also with warmer temperatures, the high school kids are wandering about my neighborhood in their small packs.

Consequently, I am finding more trash in the form of empty soda cans and bottles, chip bags, sandwich wrappers, cigarette butts and the like making its way onto my lawn and driveway.

One recent day, I reached into my mailbox and drew out my meager mail — and an unused cigarette. I don’t know if someone — like a teenager — put it in there to be funny, or if someone — like a road construction person — put it in there to keep it dry for later use. We have had a lot of rain lately.

I left it to see what would happen to it, but if it is someone who wants to keep it dry, the joke is on him or her. I have a leak in my mailbox at the moment.


Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

As a longtime employee of Bangor Daily News, I have served many roles over the years, but I now have a dream job as Community Editor. I live in Hermon with my four Brittany dogs: Sassy, Bullet, Thistle and Quincy, who keep me busy in various dog sports. I was widowed at age 51 when my husband, Jim, died of pancreatic cancer.