From Chicken Foe to Chicken Friend

The blog post, “Chickens are ‘Chum,’ not ‘Chow’” summarized my successes in reforming (or preventing) chicken-killer dogs. I ended the piece telling you about Wil – an x-show dog I adopted at age 3. He was the hardest, most messed up dog I have ever met. In this post I will share that – not only did Wil stop killing chicken—he has developed a fondness and even empathy for them.

Chaunteclear was the most devoted rooster I have ever known.

I’ve told you previously that we had to remediate his chicken habit. A half dozen chickens died because he killed them.

It took two years to totally break him of that behavior.

We moved from our ranch to a rain forest, and the last three of our flock joined s a few months later. Wil had the zoomies one day right after we got them back. He routed his flight plan right through the middle of the hens as they hung out in the back yard.

They scattered like water hit by a rock—flying in three different directions.

“Ha ha ha!” Wil giggled. And he made big zoomie circle around the yard as the hens packed up again.

“Wil! Chickens are ‘chum’ not ‘chow. That’ll do.”

“Awe Chief.”

“That’ll do. Once was fun. No more.”

He turned sharply and ran a few zoomie circles away from the chickens.

Months later a new chicken – a rooster, actually—would join our hens. Oh… Chaunteclear was a gentleman. He had a heart the size of Texas and was as gallant as an English nobleman. Shortly after he discovered our flock of three old hens and five young hens, Chaunteclear began ‘a’courting,

I watched Wil carefully to be sure that he would not eat the new intruder. No worries.

Chaunteclear tried and tried to marry his flock to this new flock, but his old gals would have nothing to do with the integration. They had only scorn for “the Sirens,” as they refereed to the young hens who had captured Chaunteclear’s heart.

But he showed up every day. And finally one night he did not go home. He stayed for days and days. But Wil and I watched him jog down the road like some poor old arthritic Don Quiote. He would disappear for some time— pleading in vain to have his old sweethearts come with him to live with the others.

Each attempt was met with abject failure, and with wilted tail, Chaunteclear would slink back to our hens.

On very early morning in the fall I heard Chaunteclear crowing in the horse pasture. I heard “Er-er-e—-.”

Chaunteclear’s last crow was in the horse pasture when he was abducted by a coyote in mid-crow.

Wil and I set out at once to see what happened. There were feathers where Chaunteclear had stood on the root of an upturned tree to wake up the sun. And while he was thus distracted, a coyote snatched him by the neck and carried him across the creek and into the woods.

“Will,” I said. “Coyote has Chaunteclear.”

“We’ll find him, Chief,” said Wil.

Wil tracked the coyote down the trail. Now Wil did not know how to use his nose when I got him. Through several different games and a LOT of practice, he has learned how to use his sense of smell.

He buried his nose into the feathers. Then he walked off down the trail. We came to the next set of feathers. It did not look good for Chaunteclear.

“He dropped Chaunteclear here, Chief,” Wil said looking at me, then the feathers.

“I think we’re too late, Wil.”

“He might not be not dead yet, Chief.” Will started to make circles until he stopped and said, “Coyote went this way.”

We walked up the trail and then Wil took us into a little thicket and indicated another pile of feathers.

“He’s gone, Chief. Chaunteclear is gone.” He nosed a small chunk of skin and meat stuck to a few feathers. “We need to get Coyote, Chief. He stole our rooster.”

We tracked the coyote up the trail another eight of a mile before I called Wil off. “It’s too late, Wil. We’re too late. Coyote ate Chaunteclear for supper. There is nothing we can do for Chaunteclear now.

“We can kill coyote,” Wil offered.

“No. It is what it is. Let’s go tell the girls.


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