My dog likes to play.
He likes to run, he likes to fetch and he loves to chew on things.
None of that is much of a problem until a chicken becomes part of the game. My experience has been that chickens don’t understand much about how a 50-pound yearling pup likes to play. Likewise, that pup doesn’t quite understand that bantam hens don’t want to play at all.
They do like to run, though, squawk and carry on as if they were having a grand time while being chased around the yard. At least that must be how Buddy interprets it.
Normally, Buddy doesn’t have an opportunity to play with our chickens. He has his kennel and a large, fenced yard to roam, while the chickens have their pens. And, normally, the chickens stay in their pens — except for a couple of high-flying bantams that insist on soaring over the sides of one day-pen without a top. Generally, they soar right back over when the dog comes around.
But, that didn’t work out so well a few days ago. I was at work in my office and Martha was on the computer when she looked out the window and noticed, “Buddy’s got something. Better go see what it is.”
I had a pretty good idea before I started toward the chicken pen. Buddy was playing with a little black and white Seabright bantam hen — rolling her around, tossing her up in the air and generally having a great time.
The chicken had long ago ceased having a good time. She was as limp as a Raggedy Ann doll — and just as absent of life, though not in the least chewed up or visibly injured, save a few scattered feathers.
Buddy didn’t immediately want to hand (or mouth) her over. He wanted to play “catch me if you can,” one of his favorite games just about every time I want to put him in his kennel.
So, we went around in circles for the next few minutes — him teasing me with the dead bird and me losing my patience — until he finally dropped the unfortunate plaything at my feet and I got a hand on his collar.
I was not happy, and he knew it. Though it was near feeding time, he had to wait a while.
Meanwhile, I cogitated over the facts of the matter. Admittedly, the chicken wasn’t where she was supposed to be. She was in his yard, not hers. Furthermore, Buddy is at least a quarter retriever. He’s genetically predisposed to fetch birds.
I knew, too, one of his favorite games is to run up to a chicken pen and scare the hens — just to see ‘em flutter and squawk. He likes to do the same with sparrows in the honeysuckle bush.
I rationalized, I can’t blame him for being a dog. Besides, I never cared much for that chicken, anyway.
Nevertheless, I guess I’m gonna have to come up with some way to make him understand those chickens are mine, not his to chase. Could be he already knows. He just can’t help himself when one of those little gals seems to want to play.
I may have a young rooster coming on to teach him a little respect, but I reckon the best plan is to keep the chickens in their yard and Buddy in his.
Pups and poultry don’t make the best playmates.
©️ James E. Hamilton 2019
Jim Hamilton is a freelance writer in Buffalo. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.