Bird Dog

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….

15 thoughts on “

  1. Dogs and poultry . . . yup, a real challenge. (Sorry to hear of Ping’s demise.) We never could train our Bouvier not to kill chickens. Fortunately, our current dog, a Pudel Pointer doesn’t bother them. She, like your Molly, is a ‘versatile’ hunting dog, but has a deathly fear of water. (Not so great for a supposed water retriever!) Guess it just goes to prove none of us is perfect.

  2. Losing Ping was a SAD day.

    mama pea—a Pudel pointer? I’ve always wanted to see one of those (and in a few weeks I will!)

    beegirl…a children’s book. Hmm. A memoir written by the chicken: My Life as a Dog Toy. !

    FYI. For some reason people’s comments are automatically posting twice, and the program automatically says I removed it. I didn’t. It just does that on its own…So don’t worry…

  3. I had the same problem with our dog. Retrievers really need to be taught not to kill and eat the birds they naturally retrieve. But we have the same problems still. That is why I keep my chickens from free ranging.

  4. Love your farm tales! We got a dog from the local shelter.(to protect the chicks at night along with the Border Collie) a cattle dog, and she got one of our chickens few days after we got her.
    And then just last weekend we thought she killed another one but she let it go after some NO NO yelling and it was in complete shock for 24 hours. of course my partner Kathy held it most of the night sitting on a round bale.

  5. Sigh…. Poor birds. I totally know how upsetting it is to lose one animal because one of your other animals kiiled it. My Pyrenese pup had a chicken one day, but I saw him in time, he dropped her and she was a bit damp and missing a few feathers, but otherwise fine. Unfortunately a week or so later a bad smell in the goat yard lead mee to the decaying bodies of two different hens. Argh!! The summer chicks are figuring out to watch out for him, they free-range, he’s behind a fence. However the other day I had a fox in the chicken coop! In the middle of the day, too. Now I need to “kennel” the chickens until we catch that fox.
    My old dog used to kill the chickens, back before we let them run free. We had two dogs back then, and we sent them both to a new home.(there was a bad nishap involving a young goat that got loose….bad dogs!) One got along fine with the resident dog, the other did not. However, the friend brought that one back, and she hasn’t touched a chicken since! Now she won’t even look at the birds,like she’s begging you to never send her away ever again! She’s still my go-to dog for taking care of other critters, mice or rats in the feed barrels, possums in the chicken coop. She’s a scrapper!
    Hope you can get your adoreable Molly to change her bird harming ways! She is just soooo cute!

  6. We saved a hen that had been stepped on by our horse (we think). We popsicle-sticked her leg in a splint and kept her in our un-used shower stall during the night and carried her outside every day. Like you, I wondered for some time whether it was going to work as she didn’t try to get up at all for several weeks. She would roll from one side to another in the sun, but that was it. Then one day, she started moving and then more and more. We kept the splint on for over 6 weeks and it could have stayed a little longer. She still has a bump on that leg where the break must have been. But she’s good to go. I’ll be your hen had some fractures and just didn’t want to try anything for awhile…hard to love predators and prey, isn’t it?

  7. Hello! I just finished reading “Hit by a Farm” and am so excited to find your blog to read the continuing tales!
    Sorry to hear about your dog and bird troubles! We had 7 illegal chickens on our one-acre suburban property and were forced to re-home them. Our two beagles never gave them a second sniff, even their last two weeks with us, when we let them free range our entire yard.
    Anyway, just wanted to say I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more!

  8. LuckyDog,

    Thanks! There will be more coming… a ‘sort-of’ sequel to Hit By a Farm is due out next spring, called “Last Farm Standing.” …assuming I finish it in time, however.

    Beagles…love ’em. We had one when I was a kid…named Molly. Naughty little thing, but sweet.

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