The Life and Times of the Urban Farmer

Dogs Will Always Be Dogs

Several weeks ago, while shopping at Stockdales for some chicken feed, my kids and I came across their most adorable bin of chicks. Well, why not I said, we had just hatched out two silkie chicks the week before, certainly we could use more, right? We left with two Americana chicks and smiles a mile wide. 🙂

Blondie and Bubblegum
Blondie and Bubblegum

Just seven weeks later and these chicks had outgrown their silkie siblings as well as my brooder and had made their way out into the adult flock. They were happy birds, always together, always chirrping. I was amazed at how fast the breed grew and I was eager to see the blue eggs once they started laying.

However, I made a chicken owner mistake this morning. Yesterday I had dealt with a stomach bug all day and last night I decided to let the dogs in to hang out in the playroom, however, neither hung out in the playroom but rather in my bedroom, huffing and puffing as only a large breed german shephard will do once it reaches over 50 degrees. At 1:30 am I was done with the heavy breathing, growling over bone rights, and the constant movement of it all, I kicked them out into the cool night air. However, I didn’t put them directly into the backyard and close the gate behind them.

They had hung out with my chickens before. And at times, my large birds had even ventured over the fence to find fresh clover in the back yard…with the dogs. I had read many times that dogs will attack chickens, that it can’t be helped, and to ensure the safety of both breeds I actually had a divider privacy fence put up between the back and side yard, giving my dogs and my chickens free range in their own spaces. But again, I didn’t put the dogs directly outside, thinking that since they’d acted so well together before there would be no danger while I slept.

I was wrong…

I awoke this morning to find all chickens on the back screened-in porch, all but the two Americanas. I went out to check on everyone and as I opened the door both dogs ran in happy and full of cheer. I walked out, paying them no mind, only to discover white, gorgeous feathers all over the side yard. I realized my mix breed had opened the door to the run, gone in, ate different bits of food, chased the other chickens off, and then went after the youngest birds. There was barely anything left, just a few feathers that I cleaned up and buried away in a plastic bag in the trash can.

I was crushed. I wasn’t mad at my dogs, I was upset with myself. I had become lazy, I was too naive to think dogs wouldn’t be dogs. I’m sorry, Blondie and Bubblegum, that I wasn’t a better pet owner. Just a few hours before I was loving on them, not realizing that I would make a mistake that would take their lives.

It’s the way of the world, isn’t it? Life is simply so fragile and can never be taken for granted. I’ve learned a valuable lesson, animals will always be animals, and as the owner of those creatures I must ensure I take the time and effort to keep them all safe, never assuming there is no danger.

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