2/05/2010

Bye, Bye, Birdies :-(

Because I was a sensitive child I have always tried to protect my own children from things that might scare them or make them sad. I don't know how many nights I would lie awake, terrified, as a child because of some scary thing on tv or some scary story I heard. And we couldn't pass a bum on the street without my heart going out to them. I felt sorry for the under dog and sad movies always made (and still do make) me cry.

Of course you can't protect your children from everything and earlier this week something happened that is a perfect example of that. Sometimes in life bad/sad/scary things happen. Instead of just trying to shield them from all of that, I guess I need to also teach them how to deal with things that can't be prevented. Stay calm. Think fast. Act smart(ly). Use wisdom.
On Monday my nieces and nephew came over for a couple of hours while my sister went to the doctor. They were all clamouring to go to the backyard and have a look at our chickens. After finishing their morning school work they got to go out. Sunny is the egg collector girl, so she proudly lead the way to show off her chickens. She opened the small door on the back of the hen house to check for eggs. All of a sudden our large and 14 year old dog, acting like a crazed puppy, jumped through the egg door! It is hard to believe that she could even fit through that opening, but that shows how badly she wanted to get at those birds. Panic broke out and the kids began screaming and crying, while our dog attacked one of the chickens and nearly killed it in front of their eyes. Our chickens live in a chicken tractor, which is a long wooden frame covered in wire with a small hen house with roosting and nests at one end. It is on wheels so that we can move them around the yard. There are only two ways into the tractor and that is through the small egg door, or to lift it up and crawl under on your belly. But it is very heavy to lift! So Scotty has decided to put a gate at the other end for times we might have to go inside of it. He hasn't gotten around to doing that yet, so when the dog jumped in there she was trapped. I didn't know what to tell them to do! I yelled from the window for Micah to lift the tractor so he tried- he got it about 10 inches and then set it back down- right on the injured (and now dead) chicken. Our dog had a second chicken trapped inside the hen house. I had no idea how we were going to get that dog out of there. In the meantime we were watching her excitedly kill our poor chickens one by one. Sunny was traumatized! She has been caring for those birds and checking on them several times per day. Now they were being mauled before her eyes and there was nothing we could do about it. (This whole scene was happening very fast) My 10 year old niece, who apparently has her mom's head for quick thinking and calmness in a crisis, went around to the back of the tractor. She reached in through the egg door, seized the dog by her collar, and some how yanked her out. This saved the day, the rest of the chickens, and Aunt Heidi's sanity as I was completely freaking out. I do not know how that child managed to yank that dog out through the egg door. She is old, but big and very strong. Scotty has a hard time managing her on a leash. I figure it wasn't so much Claire's physical strength that did the job as her determination to save those chickens. As determined as that dog was to attack them, she was even more determined to save them.
After the damage was done and we all calmed down, then the attention turned to Sunny. She was heart broken not only that her chickens had died, but also because she felt it was her fault. Tears were flowing down her cheeks. All I could do for her was hug her and tell her it wasn't her fault. Eventually she was comforted. When we first got our chickens she chose one of them to be her own pet and, after careful observation of it's behavior and much thought, decided to name it Pecker. We were relieved to see that Pecker was not among the dead.

Two days later Scotty came home with a couple of new chickens to replace the victims of our dog's instinct to kill birds. Sunny named one of them Layla and the other one Laylee. We should have known she was a bird dog. In her younger years she once jumped straight up and grabbed a bird right out of the air. We couldn't believe our eyes. She's got a whole lot of spunk for a dog her age.

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