Annoy, torment, aggravate, agitate, besiege, discombobulate, disturb, distract, disrupt, pester, plague, molest, worry, badger, harry, harass, heckle, persecute, irk, bullyrag, vex, disquiet, grate, beset, bother, tease, nettle, tantalize, perturb, unsettle, upset or ruffle the animals
Hey Bird, get me stick…
…and another beer.
You see, I am the animal pesterer. The animal irkster. I like to grate, beset and bother the animals. Always have. Not sure why, just do. Vexation and badering are my trademarks, just ask any dog that has been unfortunate enough to live next door or any squirrle that has helped itself to my birdfeeder.
Or my dog, or cat, for that matter. Just because they fall under the general rules of protection in my house doesn’t mean they don’t get bothered, disquieted or worried, occassionally. It all depends on my general mood and blood alcohol level.
I was eating a bowl of chili one evening and noticed the dog across the room in his standard pose – that being prostrate on the floor and motionless, except for his eyes, which always seem to look at me with a mix of distain and worry. Feeling uncharacteristically generous, I flicked a red kidney bean at him. It landed right by his nose. He knew it was there, but like my presence, he gave it no more attention than a nostril flare.
Ungrateful hound. So I flicked a few more at him, all landing in his fur. Neither he, nor the beans moved until I pointed it out my daughter. I’ve never owned a hound like this, one that would eschew easy food in exchange for not having to exert any additional energy in the eating of such.
Badger, harry, harass or heckle?
The cat, after 7 years, knows that turning his back on me is just not the best idea. Never can tell when a spit ball might come flying out of a sippy straw, or a Nerf projectile (or two, three, four or five) might be launched in his general direction. (I’m so glad my wife purchased that Nerf launcher for my daughter. Now that I think about it, Sweetpea tends to hide it on me and I haven’t seen it lately).
Now, let’s be clear here. I don’t hurt the animals. I just persecute, bullyrag, tease and nettle them. The ears are likely targets, especially if they stick up from the target animal’s head, exposing the inner ear. It must be the same impulse that causes one to give someone else a ‘wet willie’.
Pester, plague, molest? Well, if I can get away with it, sure.
After a lifetime of such behavior, I generally know when enough is enough. I still have all ten fingers intact. But I have a keen sense for when it is time to move onto some other form of entertainment. It usually is not when the animal is ruffled or tantalized.
I cornered a large water snake in some rocks alonside the lake. It chose the wrong crevice to hide in becasue there wasn’t anywhere to escape to. I probed the crevice with stick, trying to sprun the snake into evasive action, but its chosen defense was to emit a horrible, musky stench. I bailed.
Once, I threw a dried kernal of corn into the nostril of a bison. If you’ve never seen a bison nostil up close, let me assure you, it was not that difficult. I could clearly see the corn kernel sitting in the low area of the bison’s nostil, until it inhaled and sucked it up. To this day I am still uncertain if it was aspirated into it’s lungs, or shot back out on exhale. I believe the latter, as the bison became somewhat annoyed and head-butted the fence hard enough to shudder the supports. Talk about beset, bothered and bullyragged. I moved on to other, smaller game that weren’t capable of trampling me.
But don’t think that size alone will deter me. I once swatted a full grown milk cow in the head with my bow when a herd of them had gathered around me whilst I was bow hunting for deer. At first I didn’t mind, they provided good cover as they lay there, belching and chewing their cud (a most disgusting and unnerving sound to the uninitated). The problem began after they satisfied their gutteral needs. They seemed to grow restless and began bumping into me, rubbing their head on the end of my bow and stepping on my feet. If you haven’t had a cow step on your foot a couple of times, let me assure you, heavy boots don’t do much to mitigate the discomfort.
I wasn’t sure what I could do – a two-legged human of around 175 lbs – against a large, 4 legged ungulate ringing in around a half ton or so. I pushed back, stepped on a few hoofs and back-handed one square on the snout (ker-whap!). They thought I was playing and became even more rambunctious. One cow in particular seemed quite fond of me. I could tell because she proceeded to cover my lower half with cow slobber and bovine snot. That was when I drew the line and cracked her in the skull with the bow. It got everyone’s attention and they stampeded off across the field. Cow stampedes are also very unnerving to be in the middle of.
Also, know this: A moose is a large animal. If you’ve never seen one up close, let me tell you. Large. Even so, they don’t like being shot with the slingshot. (now that I think about it, neither does anything else…). And just because you are driving alongside one in a Jeep Cherokee whilst poinking marbles off of their ribs doesn’t mean that you are protected. Because, as my good friend Chris pointed out, they can easily turn, attack and roll the vehicle. And that would not be a good thing deep in the Maine wilderness, 10 miles from the nearest paved road and another 4 from camp.