Monday, 27 June 2016

Bertie whines ...

... from the top of the stairs that lead up to the loft.  I ignore him until the whines turn into sharp, demanding barks - "get me down now!"

The treads are open and he goes up in search of small furry things to chase but then doesn't have the courage to come back down.

He peers down at me anxiously through the balustrade as I make my way up with his blue slip-on collar and lead in one hand.  I know this is a futile exercise.  As soon as I reach the top he darts to the far side of the loft, disappearing round behind the chimney in a manic game of hide and seek - wanting to be rescued but not wanting to be caught.

So I retreat, muttering about leaving him there 'til he starves.  And the whines and barks start again.

This time I come armed.

A friends staying last week talked about training her young Labrador to come on command with a squeaky toy.  Bertie has no interest in coming for food, but perhaps he'll come for something that sounds like prey.  I'd bought a small green rubber cow (I think) that has such a loud squeak it briefly silenced Leclerc's when I tried it in the supermarket. Maybe this would work.

I stand at the top of the stairs, optimistically squeaking.  Bertie appears briefly, but is not to be fooled. He darts past me and stands among some mattresses and cushions he's been rummaging through in his hunt.  I know if I move towards him he will disappear again.  In frustration, I roar at him to "S I T", accompanied by several expletives. Meekly, he does.

Slipping the collar over his head, I squeak the green rubber cow again a few more times, just for reinforcement, and then realise my squeaks are being accompanied by loud "feed me" cheeps above my head. One of our redstarts has managed to get back into the house, despite my creating (as I thought) an impenetrable barrier of green plastic netting under the eaves. There, tucked between two rafters in the gloom above me is a messy, occupied, noisy nest.

Normally when we are around redstart chicks stay deathly quiet, only setting up their enthusiastic cheeping when they hear the reassuring "chirrup" of their mother or father returning with food.

Bertie may not be fooled by the cow.  Disconcerting to discover that redstart chicks can't tell the difference between a raucous Leclerc-silencing squeal of a plastic toy and the sound their parents make.