I like dogs. We have three. I like our dogs, sometimes, more than I like most people. What I don’t like is that terrible interaction that results in other peoples’ dogs.
Three years ago we started out chicken/garden experience kind of on a lark. The local feed store was selling chicks, and we had talked about how nice it would be to try out some of the natural gardening techniques we had read about (using a chicken tractor to till, incorporating chicken poop as a fertilizer, etc.) and brother-in-law #1 agreed to make a coop. Suddenly we had chirping chicks in the living room hopping around an unused dog crate, and our little family expanded cheeps and chirps.
The coop was built (a nice a-frame structure on wheels–our own chicken tractor) and the chicks, upon intense web-searching/study, deemed strong enough to live outside of the house.
Summer came and the chicks grew strong. Who knew those cute, little white ones with the big legs would grow so big?
Our idyll was complete.
We went to Washington DC on a family trip.
We then got a phone call. A broiler (which we had no intention of eating–one does not eat one’s friend, my daughter will say) went missing. Then the other. Then more. An unnamed predator had found our flock.
By the time of our return, our flock of 18 was reduced to 2: Sunny and Dog. Sunny turned aggressive and Dog neurotic. The day before Papa found the culprit, in flagrante endente, with a hen in his mouth, running home. Other peoples’ dogs.
We confronted the owner, argued about chickens being just as valued a pet as a dog, and fought off the now-trained-for blood canine for the rest of the fall. Then the dog quit coming around.
Another year, some more chicks, and then one more year and some more chicks.
Since we have beefed up security. We added a dog-run (incidentally enough) cyclone fence around the two large coops–so much for chicken tractor– and check the electric fence for pulse obsessively, and keep watch.
Yesterday I got a call: dog prints in the garden. The prints somehow make it through the fence and circle each community: the purple coop with last summer’s chicks, the main coop with the chicks from two years ago with Sunny as their leader and Duck-duck Melanie as their alarm; the iBaby’s coop; Coyote and Matilda’s in-row chicken tractor coop had signs of digging attempts; the non-egg laying drakes…all had signs of interest from a large dog.
Melanie the duck attempted to fly through the fence to get to her “mama.”
With panic and fear riding host, the frustration and anger of two summers ago quickly returned. We shouldn’t have to defend our pets against other peoples’ pets, yet here we are.
With the frozen ground (digging was foiled) and the snow pack showing tracks (something we didn’t have in the last neighbor-dog encounter), the wife and child tracked the trespasser to a neighbor’s house.
Other peoples’ dogs.
We will keep you posted.
UPDATE: It has been almost three weeks since I was prompted to write this by the emergence of a neighbor dog. After a visit from the local sheriff’s deputy, the offending dog has not, fingers crossed, been seen sniffing around (literally seen in the snow pack–one good thing about lots of snow). Credit goes where credit is due–and the owners of the current dog threat are to be commended on keeping their animal safely away from our fowl.