Molly is a Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon. This breed is considered a ‘versatile’ hunting dog, so can be trained to point, flush, retrieve on land, and retrieve in water. The one thing this sort of dog isn’t supposed to do is kill and eat a bird.
Yes, well. Molly missed the memo on this one.
Earlier this summer Melissa’s pet duck Ping got on the wrong side of the backyard fence (Dog Territory) and Molly killed her before we knew what had happened.
That was not a good day on Rising Moon Farm.
Then a few weeks ago Melissa was in the barn, I was in the house retrieving something, and two friends were sitting outside on our deck.
Lori came running inside, eyes wide. “The dog…the chicken…We couldn’t stop…” She waved toward the backyard and I headed in that direction.
I could see through the long grass that Molly was chewing on a pile of orange feathers. Damn. I called her into the house. The pile of feathers didn’t move. Damn again.
I tracked down Melissa and gave her the bad news. Wearily, she let herself through the gate and toward the pile of orange feathers. She bent over, then exclaimed, “She’s still alive!”
Since Molly had been chewing on her, I wasn’t so sure this was a good thing. Melissa took the hen into the barn and ministered to her. The hen was a little soggy, but otherwise there were no visible signs of damage, yet the hen couldn’t walk.
The next day the hen, tucked safely into a nest box, was perky and interested in food and water, but could not walk. She stayed in the box for a few days, but then every morning one of us would take her out and put her in the sun on the barn floor with food and water. After a week, Melissa thought she should probably end the chicken’s life since there had been no change. I agreed.
But Melissa kept putting the chicken out every morning and every night bringing her back in.
After two weeks of this, and still no improvement, I was sitting on the deck working, and noticed Melissa had put the hen in the shade under the hay wagon. Ten minutes later I looked up and the hen had moved 5 feet. Ten minutes later she’d moved another 5 feet. She flopped more than walked, but she’d moved.
A few days after that, I did chores in the morning and couldn’t even tell which hen had been injured. She was just fine.
Nerve damage? Shock? Muscle problem?
Don’t know. But I haven’t seen a chicken in the backyard since.
As for having a bird dog and free-range chickens, yeah, we know—not such a good idea. Still, I think the birds will be better at respecting that backyard fence, and we’ll be more vigilant when Molly’s outside.
Besides, it’s hard to be angry with this face….