Wednesday, October 7, 2009

bad dogs and the suckers who love them

Big Stan is a Bad Dog.

No, strike that. He's a good dog, with a Bad Habit. When he sees a chicken, he becomes The Terminator. He is a four-pawed, furry killing machine. Something deep in his brain clicks, and he will hunt down poultry wherever it hides and DESTROY IT.

You can imagine the conflict of interest.

After a particularly stressful day involving a lengthy plumber visit, and being shuffled back and forth between the bedroom and the backyard, Stan needed to blow off some steam. On one of my trips outside, he pushed past me out the door and went straight for the meat and potatoes - fifteen of our feathered finest, who were strutting their stuff all over the yard. Chaos ensued. He bore down on those birds and they scattered in every direction. I broke into a sprint and tried to head him off around the ccop, around the tree, around the patio - anywhere I could try to cut him off - but I'm out of shape, and he's a young, spry German Shepherd. I just couldn't catch him, and ultimately he chased a pullet into the underbrush and had her in his jaws, feathers flying.

Did I mention that he is a German Shepherd? The Achilles heel of every German Shepherd is his desire to be as close to his human as possible (he would be up your nose if he could find a way to fit). This effectively prevents them from running off. Once they have Destroyed The Threat, they will snap out of it, and look around for you, as if to say, "Look! Look what I did! Aren't you proud of me?" I seized this opportunity to take him to the ground and pry the pullet from his mouth. She fled - thankfully I got to her in time. I rewarded my most dedicated servant with the...ahem...most stern reprimand he's ever received in his life* and dragged him by the collar into the house.

I caught my breath. I took a headcount. I assessed the damage. One, two...six, seven... Slowly they reappeared in pairs and trios. After some time had passed, it was apparent that Winston, the rooster had a limp and two birds were still at large. The violated pullet turned up later, seemingly unharmed. The "rooster who is not Winston" was discovered in a tight corner outside the back door, behind a derelict refrigerator, literally playing dead. I myself was quite convinced. So much so that I cursed, went inside for some gloves and returned to remove his carcass but when I reached for him he bolted as if shot from a cannon, very much alive and in good health.

With everyone accounted for in the poultry yard, I went inside and implemented The Shaming. Stan was (temporarily) dead to me. He was not to be spoken to. He was not even to be looked at, except in a menacing manner. He became quite distressed by my attitude and slinked off to his fenced yard to make himself scarce. As I cooked dinner, every few minutes, he would poke just his face through the flap of the dog door...just a nose, and an eye looking at me tentatively. I'd flash him the biggest stinkeye I could muster. His big nose would disappear back out into the yard.

Repentant German Shepherds Who Know They Are In Deep S*** are adorable.

I finally had to relent and tell him it was okay to come inside. He's a smart boy. He was inside in a flash and found a place to take a nice, non-troublemaking nap.

* This is a nice way of saying that I pretty much threatened to beat him within an inch of his life. (Threats only - I don't beat my dogs.)


  1. "The Shaming" was worse than any beating you could've given him! It has worked wonders with our 9 year old Shepherd (rescued at 3 yrs)...She has never touched a chicken since her, one and only, chicken related shaming...and now she has decided that the chickens are part of her "flock" and she protects them...

  2. I'm so glad you shared husband and I just adopted a rescue puppy this past weekend. A German Shepherd mix! And while I can't have chickens now, someday I will.

  3. German Shepherds turn into wonderful dogs...eventually. It's just kind of a long road getting there!