Sunday, January 29, 2012

# 186 - Chicken Survivor - Miss Speckles Lives Another Day!

Since we've had our chickens, there have been several close calls that nearly caused us to witness their demise. One chicken was attacked by our rescue Yorkie, but thankfully she decided that she did not relish gagging on a mouthful of feathers...after that experience, she was cured of ever attacking another.

Then, we had one chicken go limp and lifeless from heat exhaustion, it took a couple of days of being inside and non-moving, but she made a miraculous recovery. You can read about that experience here...

Then, this weekend, our daughter and fiance came for a visit with their two Australian Shepherds and my sweet Bantam, Miss Speckles, found herself nearly shred to pieces.

Here are a few feathers I scooped up from the near-massacre
scene in the backyard following the attack.
First of all, let me explain...Howdy, my boy, my Aussie...he is a dad already. He was bred with my future son-in-law's female Aussie and one of the puppies in the liter was kept in the family. The dog kept is a brown Aussie with brilliant glowing eyes and his name is Dunk.

Howdy and Dunk have a great time playing together. They are both accustomed to being around chickens. Henry's parents have a ranch/farm and have always had chickens. Dunk has never had an issue being around chickens until this past Friday.

After playing together for a long time in the backyard with the chickens running around, Howdy and Dunk could be seen running across the backyard. I was sitting on my bed and my double french doors had the shades pulled fully upward and I had a great view to the awful scene as I witnessed Dunk running from Howdy, but I could clearly see that Dunk had something rather large and white in his jaws.

For a split second, I considered the sight. There are two white things in our backyard, white stones that are too heavy for a dog to be prancing across the yard with it in his mouth and the second white thing is Miss Speckles.

I raced for the door, ran outside and found Miss Speckles trapped in Dunk's powerful jaws, but my screaming, "DROP HER NOW!" as I lurched toward Dunk seemed to convince him that he no longer wanted the chicken, he only wanted away from me.

Amazingly, Miss Speckles, covered in mud and with one wing oddly sticking outward, fell from Dunk's jaw and took off at a high speed for the corner of the house to hide under a large elephant ear.

Meanwhile, Dunk had terrible evidence of his attack all around his jaw. Miss Speckles had lost a great deal of feathers and part of them were lining Dunk's lower jaw. I yanked some of those feathers out of his jaw and slapped his nose with them while saying, "BAD, NO, NO, NO!"

Here is a picture of Dunk on a brighter day. A day he had not attacked any chickens...

My oldest daughter, Heather, and her fiance were so upset. They could not believe that Dunk had attacked a chicken because he's occasionally been around chickens since he was a youngin. But, something had changed and caused Dunk to snap. Obviously, he now sees chickens as an animal to attack. Then, Henry remembered the dogs on his parents' land going after the buzzards. It seemed to make sense that Dunk cannot differentiate between a buzzard as a flying object to attack and chickens as a flying object to attack.

As Dunk went into his kennel for a time-out and to escape my wrath, I tried to get a close look at Miss Speckles, but she remained huddled beneath the elephant ear and appeared terrified. There was no way that I was going to go in after her and cause her more terror. I decided to leave her alone. She had momentarily stood back up and I had been able to quickly do an inspection of her legs and they still seemed okay. Her ability to run to the corner was a great sign that she might have a chance.

By the time Deputy Dave got home from work, it had been a few hours, but Miss Speckles finally came out of her corner. She was a few feathers lighter, but she appeared okay. Deputy Dave went outside, picked her up, gave her some love and ran his hands over her wings and body to make sure everything was truly okay and it was. She survived an attack by an Australian Shepherd.

This is Tux...the first Australian Shepherd we'd
ever had. My daughter got him while in college, but
he lived with us for quite a long time. He's a wonderful dog.
The mud caked onto Miss Speckles body on both sides proved that he had been pawing her to pin her to the ground so that he could pick her up in his jaw. She must have put up a fight. Poor gal.

If I'd not looked up at that very moment and seen Dunk with Miss Speckles in his jaw, then she most likely would have been torn to shreds within the next thirty seconds.

Belle the Yorkie has one chicken attack to her record,
but the experience had been so sour for her that she was instantly cured.
As for Howdy, I was momentarily angry at him for not stopping Dunk. But, he was hyper and clearly confused about how to handle the matter. When I had glanced upward to see Dunk with the chicken in his mouth, I also knew something was really wrong by the way Howdy was running behind Dunk. Howdy had been continuously and rapidly turning his head to look at me through the windows then he'd turn his head back to Dunk. This rapid head turning from us to an object is a habit he has when he wants us to LOOK at what he's seeing, as if he's "pointing" his nose at what he wants us to see after he's gained eye-contact with us.

I could see that Howdy was on edge by his body looking so tense as he ran, as if he wanted to jump on Dunk, but didn't know if he'd be in trouble for doing so. You see...Howdy is constantly "chastising" Dunk for every little move he makes. Howdy's need to herd Dunk is so powerful that we must remind Howdy, frequently, to back off. Having a houseful of Aussies is definitely a unique experience.

This is Tux again. He's an incredible Aussie.
Of course, he had been neutered, which I can see makes a HUGE
difference in their ability to focus and calm down for better behavior.
I told Heather and Henry that we all love our animals and that we'll simply adjust to this situation. When Dunk comes for a visit, we'll have to keep the chickens in their coop.

Dunk is not neutered.
But, I did go have a "conversation" with Dunk and I told him that it was so sad that he now had a rap sheet, he had a record and we could no longer allow him the same backyard freedoms he once enjoyed. He seemed to not have a clue as to what I was saying. Go figure.

One thing I can say in his defense is that Dunk mainly lives with my daughter and Henry in a regular backyard, without any farm animals. He gets to only visit people with poultry and livestock. He probably doesn't have the proper supervision and training that an Aussie needs so that he can understand his proper role with the animals. If they don't get that training and enforcement while a puppy, you can probably forget trying to undo the urge they have to attack.

Howdy is not neutered, but we are wanting to breed him
once we move to the farm. He is a wonderful dog.
Howdy is well accustomed to being in close quarters with chickens.
So, Dunk can't really be faulted. He's been a regular house-dog and not exposed enough to poultry in a tight environment so that he can practice self-restraint and herding knowledge about what is game and what is clearly not game. I don't think Heather and Henry are planning to move to their own farm any time soon, so this is not really an issue, except when they're visiting their parents, but we will adapt so that the dog can enjoy himself as well without adding to his record.

Lyla is a beauty. She's naturally the most intelligent
out of the whole bunch. She's probably the best dog we've ever had...a mixed breed.
Regardless, we still WUV Dunk! Well, after I calmed down I admitted that I can forgive, but not forget...for the chicken's sake I'd better not forget. I think Miss Speckles will appreciate me retaining my memory of that scary moment.

I'm so glad my favorite chicken wasn't eaten. And this is what happens when you LOVE your chickens too much, you'd fight an Australian Shepherd over them.


Mike said...

Hooray for Miss Speckles. You go girl.

Chickens ~ 2 Dogs ~ 0

Reckon Dunk was telling you to 'bugger off' whilst you were chewing his backside?

Be sure and keep an eye out for any infections, in case Dunk broke the skin anywhere. Chicks are prone to infections and they are quick to advance.


LindaG said...

Howdy is constantly "chastising" Dunk for every little move he makes.

It is possible that Howdy is trying to train Dunk. To teach him right from wrong.

And if you had given him the go, he probably would have bowled Dunk over. No telling how Miss Speckles would have been then.

Glad she survived. I hope she will be fine.

From what I've read she may stop laying for a while because of what happened, so if she stops laying for a week, it's not necessarily anything to worry about.


Loved reading that Miss Speckles was saved from her demise. Beautiful dogs, those Aussies.
Our son in law had a Jack Russell terrier who had never bothered their chickens, until the day they came home and he had gotten into their pen and massacred most of them. What a disaster and a mess. Jack Russell had to find a new home. It was hard to get over that scene in their heads. The children did not see, thankfully.
We have to remember that they are all animals.
Thanks for sharing this. Blessings, Barb

Alex said...

I love reading your entries. You never know what's going to come next! Beautiful dogs. I hope they and the chickens will continue to learn from one another.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

That's one tough chicken! I'm glad it wasn't also that pup's dinner. Good save.