Monday, September 22, 2008

Chicken Chronicles: I did it!

After a couple of years of chickening, we* decided to adopt a couple of retired racing greyhounds. No, the two events are not connected in any way. I am just random and arbitrary like that. It's the Shiny -- I'm powerless in its grasp.

Greyhounds are sighthounds, bred to chase small game. They are, as you might suspect, irresistibly attracted to motion. Especially racing dogs, where this instinct is honed to a fever pitch during training where they chase the white, furry thing around the track all day long**.

The chickens were kept in the shed/coop at the far corner of the yard, surrounded by a 7+ foot high chicken wire fence. They were, for the most part, secure. Oh sure, there had been a few escapes early on before we realized that a) chickens can fly, kind of (especially the Leghorns), and b) chickens can move an amazing amount of dirt, especially when they scratch too close to the fence and create an apparently irresistible egress***. I guess even a chicken's walnut-sized brain can discern the apparent disparity in the hues of grass from one side of the enclosure to the other. But with a judicious application of chicken wire, plywood, and large rocks, we considered those issues resolved. And, as you can probably imagine, our back yard looked simply fabulous!

Now Cosmo, the male, was the larger dog and therefore the most cowardly. Upon his arrival, I'd taken him out by the chicken yard to see what would happen. He seemed slightly interested and tentatively stuck his nose out to sniff, until one of the chickens fussed, at which time he balked and bolted to the house. Wanda, the more compact hound, was one cool customer. Although she seemed to have a pretty decent prey drive (at least where cats were concerned), she showed no interest in the birds whatsoever.

(I'm pretty sure you know where this is going but I'm pressing on, mainly because I love to hear myself talk... er, type. Whatever.)

One afternoon I look out the kitchen window to see Cosmo tossing something around the yard****. It looked like a white plastic grocery bag. He seemed to be having a good time, but then I realized he'd probably ingest it, whereupon it would block his intestines and cost me a thousand dollars at the vet. I decided I'd best go relieve him of it.

By the time I reached him, he was standing over his booty (Ha! Snort!) with an unmistakable expression of purest and most radiant joy on his face. He was positively beaming with pride. And I swear I saw a thought bubble appear over his head:
' Look! I did it! I caught the white fluffy thing! I really did it!'
No, that was no simple bowel-obstructing plastic bag laying on the ground between his front paws. It was an Ex-Leghorn.

I felt genuinely sorry for him as I swallowed my bile, grabbed his collar, and dragged him away from his moment of glory incarnate. The expression on his face as I shut him in the house was heartbreaking.

Until I had to go pick up the bird. Luckily he hadn't managed to eviscerate her. And did I mention my unreasonable fear of dead animals?

Whitey, safely double-bagged, followed her compatriot to the giant landfill in the sky. Released from captivity, Cosmo stood over the site of his greatest achievement, obsessively combing each blade of grass for any signs of his moment of conquest, to no avail. Was it a dream? But it had seemed so real....

We never did figure out how he got at her. Nor did we figure out how he got a hold of the next one. He must've stood by the fence, willing them to come out with every fiber of his being. Or something.

I tried to deny it, but I realized even then that was probably the beginning of the end of the Chicken Chronicles.

Be sure to check back for the next and final installment, where Hubby utters the timeless quote: 'If I saw one rat, I saw fifty....'

* And by that I mean I.

** Or not. I could be making up that whole paragraph.

*** I was going to say 'glory hole' but that would be inappropriate.

**** Wait for it...

1 comment:

  1. I raised chickens in my classroom last year. Hoo boy, what a mistake! As cute as they were as little chicks, they grow quite fast...and quite stinky!!


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