It’s a dog-eat-chicken world

Our dog is obsessed with our chickens. This remodeled dog house was enough to keep our chickens safe. Unfortunately, one of them met its demise via the dog.

Our new house for the chickens seems to be keeping them safe from the dog. He’s still obsessed with the Chicken Five, however.

And then, there were five.

Just like that, we had our first chicken casualty. It was bound to happen sooner or later, considering we live in a neighborhood with coyotes, skunks, raccoons and a visiting mountain lion.

Surprisingly, it was our own dog that killed the first chicken, a mere four weeks into the urban livestock experience. And now, he has a taste for blood, and he’s a killer.

Just like everyone says, it all happened so fast. My friend Shannon was visiting and she wanted to see the chickens. She just happened to get to see a dead one as well as the live ones.

See, there were six chickens. Little Jerry, Eleanor Rigby, Pollo Kata (named for a character on a Spanish telenovela), Ofeibeia (named for a radio personality), Nugget and the one who looked like Nugget, Other Nugget. Honestly, we couldn’t tell them apart. But Other Nugget was a few feathers short of a chicken, a real bird brain.

And this is why Hubby started calling it Dumbass, which I tried to discourage by saying we should never name our pets horrible things like that. Couldn’t we be more creative? We could have named it after our least-favorite president or some reality TV show star, but the name stuck.

So wouldn’t you know it, that poor idiot bird’s fate was sealed with its name. It had to be the one that decided to jump out of the enclosure, landing on the ground exactly one second before it was snatched up by the obsessed bird-killer and crunched to death.

I chased the dog around the yard, screaming uselessly and beating on him as he mangled the poor thing. Now the neighbors really think I’m crazy, for wailing and beating my dog in front of them.

The truth is, it’s my fault. I underestimated my dog’s obsession with the chickens, although he’s a lab mix (stupid!).

His extreme jealousy didn’t help matters, and neither did the fact that the chickens made squeaky noises akin to dog toys. The ghetto chicken McMansion we threw together, using a free dog house and our limited construction skills, just wasn’t doing the trick.

That night, after the horrible incident, Shannon and I went to buy a pre-fabricated chicken fortress kit, far more secure than the shabbilyremodeled dog house.

Although it was made in China and it was definitely overpriced, the kit created a safe home for the remaining Chicken Five (now I’m wishing I’d named them after the Jackson family).

Hubby came home that night and learned of the chicken massacre.

“It wasn’t Little Jerry, was it?” he asked, actually seeming concerned about a chicken he never wanted but is now his favorite.

“No, it was ... Dumbass,” I said.

His shoulders started shaking and I wondered for a second if he was actually upset about this. But the shaking and his contorted mouth were giveaways that he was stifling a laugh as he choked out, “Pppoor… Dumbass,” and started snickering uncontrollably.

“Too soon!” I yelled, snapping him with a kitchen towel. “I had to bury that poor dead idiot bird that lived up to its name!”

Perhaps Shakespeare’s Juliet was right. A dumb bird by any other name may have been just as idiotic. But probably not.

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.


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