This past weekend we purchased four laying hens. They’ve already laid five eggs. We put together a coop and tucked it away behind the shed. Millie checked out the accommodations and the strange new critters. I think she wanted to play with them. Her tail was wagging.
Zeke raced around the yard and barked at the feathered intruders. “Mom, mom, mom, there’s something back there! MOM!”
Marble is eerily smart at times. She barked a bit too, but I think only because Zeke was carrying on. She’s a firm believer in conservation of energy. While Zeke attempted to burrow his was under or around the chicken wire, she determined that a carefully placed paw bent the stuff down nicely. It wasn’t that tall, but it takes a great deal of motivation to get her to jump. I’ve seen her do it on occasion, but she prefers not having to exert that much effort.
When I first brought Marble home she learned three commands in as many days. She learned “Paw” (aka. shake) in five minutes flat. Once, not long after I began crate training her, a storm rolled through. She hates being cooped up when there’s a storm. She kept barking, which is normal behavior for a dog. Not many dogs would intently poke the latch on the crate door in an attempt to lift and slide it. She knew exactly how it worked, but lacked the dexterity to make it work. She has more brains than some people I’ve known. She sits and observes and never expends more energy than she wishes. At best guess the Humane Society called her part Malamute. I think the other part is Collie. There could be other stuff in there, but those two breeds most definitely explain a good portion of her mannerisms and quirks. Both breeds are working dogs that rank high in intelligence.
Dogs love to chase squirrels, right? Marble rarely does this. It isn’t that she does not like to, but rather, she eyes the squirrel, calculates speed and distance, and decides if she has a fair shot at catching it. If not, the squirrel is ignored. Zeke will chase them all day long, which is probably why he never manages to catch anything. Marble not only has caught and killed rats, she deposited a dead squirrel by the back door one day. I now suspect she never bothers with birds because she knows she can’t catch them. She saw geese once and maintained a wide berth. “Damn! I didn’t know they could get that big!” She had more sense than to try to tackle birds that large.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
I figured that chickens are not rodents, so perhaps her herding instincts would kick in. Yeah, not so much. She’s only ever attempted to herd people, and I nipped that behavior in the bud, because I’m the boss; not her. Although, there are many days where I think she’s humoring me. If that dog had opposable thumbs I think she’d surpass the Brain in world domination success. She has Zeke as her Pinky side-kick.
I’m guessing that yesterday she cased the chicken coop and discovered that the latches are simpler versions of the lock on her crate. So what happened this morning? Chase let the dogs out and Marble let the chickens out. She then proceeded to cull one from the flock and catch it. We heard the commotion and called her. She seemed quite pleased to deliver the chicken to me. I imagine she was wondering if she should pluck it or if I would. “I can haz bbq chikin?”
Thankfully, she just had it by the tail feathers, so while ruffled and missing a few feathers, I rescued the startled, but unharmed bird. Much to Marble’s annoyance, chicken was not on today’s breakfast menu. I really wish I had a camera handy when she came trotting to the door with a big doggie grin and a mouthful of feathers.
Needless to say, I moved the coop out of the back yard and poor traumatized chicken huddled in my arms for a few minutes. “Mama! It tried to EAT ME!”