Meet the latest additions to the family: Chiye, Fumiko, and Mayumi!
These are three Japanese bantam chickens we acquired from friends who could no longer care for them. We have installed them in our garden, which is fenced off from the rest of the yard (where the dogs roam), and positioned their coop behind the shed. This means that the dogs can’t clearly see the chickens when they’re in the yard, and I hope it will give the hens some peace, too.
Our plan is to let the chickens roam free in the garden fence when the dogs are inside. They are bantams, so they are very small, and I think they could easily squeeze through the fence slats if they were so inclined. We know that chickens are susceptible to a variety of predators, but we’d prefer that their deaths were not caused by our dogs.
The dogs have been VERY interested in the sounds coming from the garden, but they haven’t made any attempts to jump the fence. And even if they did, I don’t think they could actually get to the chickens in the coop. (They’re not feisty terrier types, who may be inclined to dig under.) So, I think the chickens are safe from the dogs, but we’re not planning on any meetings between the species.
I think Eden would potentially scare a chicken to death, or play with it too roughly, but I have no doubt that Pyrrha would go in for the kill. She is a dedicated huntress, and she has a very strong prey drive/stalking mechanism when it comes to small creatures.
We are excited to expand on our urban farm with the chickens and have hopes that they will thrive and survive.
Do you keep chickens? If so, what do your dogs think of them?
Oh, man. I might be the worst dog-sitter ever. Before the story, here’s the cast of characters:
This is Blue:
He is a small and rather quiet, self-possessed hound mix. Blue is somewhat shy and, as his mama warned us, rather nervous around men, so I handled him when Guion came to take the walk with us on Friday night.
And this is Ginger:
Ginger is a spunky and vocal little terrier mix. I can’t, for the life of me, guess what her lineage could possibly be. Do you have any guesses? There’s clearly some terrier in there (the beard and the wiry hair). But her coat color, those little drop ears? No clue. What do you think?
Anyway. So, we show up on Friday night to take them for a walk. Immediately, we can’t find the key anywhere. The dogs are barking; they’re desperate to be let out and I am mildly panicking about it. Thankfully, we finally get in touch with their family and they give us some more insight on where the key is. We get inside and the dogs are a bit frantic and scared. I speak to them softly and go about locating their leashes and walking chain collars.
Without thinking much, I put the chain collars on the dogs (prongs with teeth–I didn’t want to use them, but their nylon collars didn’t have any rings on them) and march them outside. I have Blue and Guion is following behind me with Ginger. I march Blue over the sidewalk into the street and, suddenly, he starts beeping. He ducks his head and his tail and then I realize… CRAP. I just walked that dog straight through an invisible fence.
I felt SO terrible. So terrible. How stupid of me. In the frenzy, I didn’t even think that those big collars with the black boxes on them were probably for an invisible fence–and not for bark control or anything else. (Slightly in my defense, I wasn’t told to take these fence collars off when we were going to take them out for a walk, but I really should have noticed.)
The rest of the weekend, both dogs stopped trusting me when I would take then out–even though I took off the fence collars promptly. I had to actually pantomime that I was taking something off Blue’s neck for him to follow me into the street! The poor thing. I felt so, so horrible about it. Lesson really learned. I hope they’ll forgive me.
But the rest of our time there was pleasant and provincial and I enjoyed our walks with Blue and Ginger. Their family also has a sweet mini-menagerie in the backyard, complete with chickens:
And a funny little bunny, who seemed very friendly and very eager to get out of his hutch:
On an unrelated note, I was thrilled yesterday to learn that I won the Go Pet Friendly giveaway for a Kurgo backseat car cover! (I never win blog giveaways, on the random event that I enter them, so this was quite exciting.) A car seat cover has been on my wish list for a while now, and so I am really excited to receive it and try it out. A nice way to end the week.
Obviously, I’d be perfectly happy if the only pets I ever had were dogs. Dogs, dogs, and some more dogs. But I just love animals in general, and so a large part of my daydreaming involves thinking about all the animals I’d like to have in my life one day–including my small pack of dogs.
Here’s a list of the non-dog animals I would also love to adopt, ranked in order of desire:
I adore rabbits. I think this is because our first family pet was a rabbit: Spencer, the mini Holland lop, who was the Greatest Bunny Who Ever Lived. Spencer was the gentlest and sweetest bunny. Miraculously, despite being somewhat roughly handled by the four of us as children, he never bit us, not even once. We liked to think he played “hide and seek” with us in the backyard; he enjoyed chasing us around the yard and hiding with us underneath bushes and small trees. I would get rabbits in a heartbeat–although I think they’re probably the most tempting (and defenseless) small animal to bring home if you have a dog like a German shepherd. Rabbits, unlike cats, have no defense mechanisms and I don’t know if I could ever trust a dog with a rabbit, but that somehow hasn’t dampened my desire for a bunny of my own. Maybe one day.
Backyard chickens are the new thing for suburban dwellers, it seems–at least in our area of Virginia. Everyone (ourselves included!) wants to think of themselves as quasi-farmers. We have lots of friends who have a small coop of egg-laying hens in their yards and I confess that the idea has become very attractive to me lately. I don’t know if we’ll have enough room at our new house–and I think chickens would also be a constant, maddening distraction to a high prey-drive dog–but it’s a nice daydream. They’re certainly not as loveable or companionable as a bunny, but I like them just the same. They’re also not as stupid as people tend to think.
Like many little girls, my horse obsession began at a very young age. I think I actually became fixated with horses before my dog obsession began. I read all the horse books I could get my hands on. I memorized horse breeds. I begged my mother for riding lessons. The equestrian life is, however, a very expensive one, and my parents couldn’t afford to send me (and my copycat little sisters) to riding lessons. They did, however, send us to a horse camp where we mucked stalls and groomed horses in exchange for a few lessons in the summers. I loved every minute of it, even mucking stalls. The sweet smell of hay and the presence of these glorious, sensitive animals filled my little heart with joy. While I haven’t had much interaction with horses in a long time (*excepting one of the best parts of our honeymoon: Guion knew about my lifelong adoration of horses and surprised me with a two-hour trail ride in the Blue Ridge mountains), I do dream about them still. They’re a serious, serious commitment, but they’re also a nice thought.
Goats are such ornery, funny creatures. I like them a lot, even though they may be somewhat hard to love (excepting those babies). I also love chevre and goat milk soaps and such, so I daydream about having a small dairy flock of my own one day.
5: FINCHES or BUDGIES
I like birds a lot, even though they are a pain to take care of/sometimes saddening to think about living your whole life in a cage where you can’t fly. So, maybe I won’t get a bird. But I grew up with a Zebra finch named Sprite and a pair of budgies that I received for my thirteenth birthday, whom I christened Monet and Renoir (they were in love). They are messy and noisy, but oh-so-beautiful to look at. Maybe not reason enough to adopt some, but I love them just the same.
I am very ambivalent about cats, but I like them most of the time. I don’t think I would like to take care of one or actually be responsible for one, but I have my moments of soaring adoration and affection for cats. It’s perhaps not surprising that my favorite cats are the ones who act like dogs. The only cat I’ve ever truly loved was my roommate in Denver, a tabby lady I called Kitteh. She was inquisitive and affectionate without being obnoxious. Kitteh was charming and intelligent and I loved sharing a bed with her. I would get a cat if I could get one with a temperament just like hers, but I’m doubtful about how likely that is. I think cats are supremely beautiful. I think they make every room look more elegant. But I wonder how quickly I’d resent a cat if I actually dared to bring one home. Who knows? Maybe one day there will be room for a cat.
Do you have other animals, besides your dog? How do they interact, if at all?